Dwayne Laforme will be joining the Joel Johnson Band in their efforts to win the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee in late January 2015, but he also has his own established band named the Boogie Blues, an album and 15 years of experience onstage playing rhythm, lead guitar and singing lead vocals. He prides himself on being able to do all three things equally well.
The Boogie Blues band consists of Laforme, Mike Fitzpatrick (drums), Dennis Rondeau (bass), Allister Robertson (saxophone), Mike Doyle (keyboard) and Wayne Shaky Deganais (alternate on keyboard).
Laforme’s stage presence is certainly noticed, with his long curly hair, cool blues attire and the type of passionate guitar playing that motivates dancers to let loose and have some fun. His voice has a husky, raspy sound that enables him to both croon and inspire. But underneath all of that is a man who can admit that he has had to struggle with a lack of confidence along the way and he offers words of encouragement to others that feel the same way.
Laforme is the son of Velma Laforme and Woody (Sherwood) Porter. He has family ties to both Six Nations and New Credit communities. His musical interest was first inspired by his older brother, who used to play blues shuffle on the guitar. Laforme would watch him, intrigued for hours. His father noticed this and bought him a guitar.
Laforme is self-taught, with the help of 2 friends, Kevin Hess, who taught him 3 guitar chords and how to strum, while his friend Herb “Spike” Garlow gave him direction on lead guitar. Laforme taught himself to sing by singing along to Murray Porter’s 1492.
Laforme says that he remembers singing that, over and over, and that his mother watched his love for music and thought that he would become a dancer. It is this passion for music that Laforme credits for his success today.
“For some guys, music is technical,” he says. “For me, it’s about feel.”
Laforme’s guitar heroes are BB King, Albert King, Albert Collins and Buddy Guy. In his recollection of his first on-stage performance, which was at the Dog Water Grill, Laforme said, “It was not a gig with players at my level. These were all established players. It was nerve-racking. But a good nervous. It was exciting.”
He chuckles recalling that he could only sing three songs at that time. He would keep his head down while on stage, too shy to engage with the audience. But the crowd and the owner liked what they heard, and they gave him a job in their house band, where he was lovingly referred to as “the Kid” because he was the youngest guy in the band.
Over the years, Laforme has worked on his confidence to enable him to pursue his passion in music. It was a necessity and he realized that early on.
“Being a front man did not come natural to me,” he says.
Laforme’s advice to people is, “Do it sober. It takes a lot of hard work but just go through the frustrations and you will get through it. If you’re going to do it, do it straight.”
Laforme has achieved many of his career goals, including playing with most of the Downschild band members over the years. He was not happy with his first album, I’m Down With the Blues (2000), so he does not promote it. But he is working on new originals and another album is on the horizon.
His songs are about life, love and relationships. For him, the most emotional song that he has ever written was “Jean’s Song.” Laforme says that his friend Jean asked him to write a song for her, two weeks before she passed away. He was not sure if she was a fan of the blues. He tried to make the song a mixture of Barry White and the Allman Brothers.
Before the song was even finished, his friend Jean commenced on her journey to the spirit world. Laforme says that he does sing this song onstage, but he gets choked up.
Dwayne Laforme and the Boogie Blues band will make a guest appearance December 20th, 2014 at the Liquid Lounge in Brantford for Laforme’s annual Christmas/ Birthday Bash. This event is open to the public. In addition, all fundraising efforts made by the Joel Johnson Band in their efforts to attend the International Blues Challenge will also benefit Laforme’s participation in the event.
PHOTO CREDITS: Dwayne Laforme wows a crowd with his down home style and rocker boy good looks. He is the front man of the Boogie Blues Band. You can listen to the Boogie Blues at the Liquid Lounge on December 20th. Laforme will also be supporting the Joel Johnson Band in their quest for international recognition in January 2015.
PHOTO BY: NRD Photography, Naomi Dennis