Gentleman blues purveyor Cole Patenaude recalls shades of Tom Petty and Huey Lewis with the playful jaunt of he and his bands’ music. Their latest tunes, of which Are You Happy Now? is comprised, are fun-loving romps of consummate musicianship and showmanship alike. Never has the ensemble been tighter or encompassed more of a vibrant vision, and Patenaude time-and-again proves himself to be the ever-capable frontman at its crux. Emboldening, electric, and eclectic, Patenaude and the band are on fire like never before.
Thusly, For Folk’s Sake is happy to invite Patenaude to the ‘FFS 5’ table. The artist’s answers to our ongoing interview series offer a window into the life of the bluesman, both in and out of the musical scape.
Are You Happy Now? is available to stream and purchase now.
Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?
I currently live just outside of Vancouver, but I’m originally from a magical little place called Horsefly, right smack dab in the middle of British Columbia, Canada. Much of my family still lives there and them and the quiet and the stars and the pristine waters are never too far from my mind. There’s a lot of beautiful music to be found in that country, and that’s where most of my best memories are from.
My musical journey absolutely started with my family. I was on stage playing bongos in the family band with my dad and three sisters when I was about 3 or 4. I then stepped away from music for probably 10 years, quit my bongos and piano and voice lessons in favor of dirt bikes and Tonka trucks, but hindsight will get ya and man do I wish I had stuck with those lessons! When my oldest sister Pharis took up the guitar when I was in my early teens I just thought it was so wonderful what she was doing with it that I just had to give it a try. It seems to have caught on a bit. I still play her old guitar everyday, my dad bought it from her for my 16th birthday and it just keeps getting better.
As for defining moments I don’t have so many yet but being able to say that I was the opening act for two of my incredibly talented sisters feels real good. I’ve always looked to them for inspiration and guidance and they’ve always been there for me!
As an artist, how do you define success?
I’d have to say success comes in so many different places that I don’t think I could pin it down to just any one thing. I feel like I’ve found success in the friendship and understanding my bandmates and I have grown. I feel like I find success every time the build in the guitar solo peaks right at the chord change and it just feels right. I feel successful when anyone comes and shares how the music has made them feel or think. I feel success when we’ve booked a gig!
What do you find your greatest struggle to be when it comes to the music business?
I seem to be struggling with making music my full time job. Right now I work as a mechanic and then do music when I get home or on my days off, and I just don’t make enough doing that yet to be able to quit wrenching. I went and had 3 beautiful daughters and until making music can buy them shoes and breakfast I’ll keep on fixing cars. I get made fun of a bit at work as I often sing while I wrench but jokes on them I’ve come up with some good songs that way!
What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist and as a band? What do you hope to achieve?
Might have spoiled this one with my previous answer but my true goal is to make playing music be what supports my family. I don’t feel the need for riches but I’d sure love to take my music as far around the world as I can, travelling and growing with the band, taking my girls to new and interesting places and finding the songs in everything.
Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?
I’m a sucker for a good book, I love an exciting video game I can play with my friends, and I never get tired of taking a good corner on a well tuned motorcycle. If any of those things aren’t available I’ll most likely be playing guitar or being far too sarcastic with my kids. Thanks so much for this!
Words by: Jonathan Frahm