Catriona Sturton describes herself as the “most interesting not-very-interesting person you could meet.”
I would argue that she’s the farthest thing from “not very interesting” I’ve seen in awhile, but at the same time I see what she’s trying to say. In the world of rock and blues, bad behavior and a devil may care attitude is often the currency of the day. Catriona, when asked her hobbies, included laundry, letter writing, and tea.
She mentions more than once how awesome her parents are, and how much she loves them. Not exactly your typical rocker bad girl. Until you see her play. Certainly she has songs like her romantic number Wheel of Fortune that are as gentle and sweet as her babyface, but then the blues harp comes out, maybe even in tandem with some heavy electric guitar, and she becomes a force to be reckoned with.
She plays harmonica with a level skill I very rarely see outside Deep South roadhouses, and with a feel that lets you know she’s paid her dues in this world. Her tender voice belies the fury she can channel on guitar. She also plays bass, which she picked up in Dalhousie simply because some friends had a band that needed a bass player.
That band was called Plumtree, and if you are of my generation, you’ve no doubt heard of them. They were big on the Canadian scene in the 90s and recorded 2 albums.
Luck is something she feels she has a lot of, and its marks are all over her life experience. From the auspicious beginnings of learning bass on a Rickenbacker with a Geddy Lee autograph under a small chunk of plexiglass to writing her first bass line for a Plumtree song called Scott Pilgrim, which would later be turned into a comic book and movie, it seems that being the grand daughter of the seventh son of the seventh son in her Irish ancestry continues to act as a bit of a golden horseshoe for her.
Having studied harmonica greats such as Larry ‘the Bird’ Mootham and Carlos Del Junco, collaborated with Al Tuck and Joel Plaskett, and toured with Thrush Hermit and The Weakerthans, her resume is not only vast but unique.
Her goal in life, she says, is simply to be a “really proficient, deadly musician.” I’ve taken her up the Southside hills on a very rainy windy day to pick blueberries, and the meditative quality of the work gives us time for deeper discussion on that.
Being a female musician, she is aware she is in the minority in her field, but says the harmonica world is “her people” and her primary concern is always her music. That said, she has been known to give women harmonica lessons for free to add more female players to the mix.
She left her job working for a Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (a non-profit promoting childhood literacy by giving out free books to young children) to pursue a full time career as a touring musician. She records as well, but playing live is her passion.
With travels as to lands as far as Rwanda and Japan, as storied as Clarksdale Mississipi, and an upcoming travels to Italy, Germany, and Austin TX this fall and winter, she is well on her way to an epic life on the road. Preferably with lots of tea and clean sheets.