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Pique Newsmagazine (Whistler), Music & Nightlife: (January 19, 2006) by Nicole Fitzgerald:

Pedal to the metal: Guitarist Mike Weterings brings African slant to Whistler music scene:

Here's the man famous for his rack-his foot pedal lineup that is.

Two-time West Coast Music Award nominee Mike Weterings puts the pedal to the metal in his solo shows, as you can see for yourself at performances Friday, Jan. 20 and Saturday, Jan 21 at the Crystal Lounge.

Loop station, wah, whammy, he isn't afraid to take risks after more than seven years of Western Canada tours and regular appearances on the Vancouver scene and at Whistler's Crystal Lounge.

His world travels, spanning more than 60 countries in two years, resulted in Weterings' signature cross-cultural stamp with a distinct African slant.

From jazz to soukous (Congolese dance music), his worldly approach to songwriting both opens doors and presents obstacles.

"Since my music crosses several music styles or categories, the challenge is to keep the sound consistent", he said. That's especially true on his latest recording, which has been a two-year process so far.

"We've focused on keeping the rhythmic energy solid and creating parts that support the songs, but don't overwhelm them."

Along with recording studio , you'll find the Vancouver boy at weekly live original music nights at The Backstage Lounge, The Pic and Coppertank Grill. You'll also find him at the slots these days. Not playing them, but playing at Casino gigs-basically the one-man show of musician and guitar is focusing on "putting himself out there".

Anyone who witnessed Weterings' jam sessions during the Pemberton Folk Festival's songwriter workshops can see his passions extend beyond the stage and into the songwriting process itself-whether for himself or other aspiring artists.

"I keep busy with regular solo performances" he said.

"Since I think of myself first as a songwriter, I am also always keeping my ear open to muse and whenever possible developing a new musical/lyrical/song idea.

"I really enjoy being a part of the local songwriter/performer community and  in supporting other writers and performers in the community."

A teach by trade, the award-winning guitarist also teaches biomedical ethics at the University of BC schools of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy-but that's another story.

Most notable accolades for this year include placing in the top 10 finalists with noe one but two compositions at the NSAI-CMT song writing contest, beating out 7,000 entrants.

Slip into his groove this Friday and Saturday at the tucked away local watering hole located off the Village Stroll.

VUE Weekly (Edmonton), Music: Rock Prevue, (June 12-18, 2003) by Jered Stuffco:

"I'm Gonna Get You, soukous": Mike Weterings' African-based sound raises cash for Doctors Without Borders:

The ability to think altruistically isn't something rock musicians are particularly known for. Aside from overly dramatic statements like waving a white flag onstage (see Bono) or the odd patronizing attempt at educating an otherwise oblivious audience on the benefits of fair trade (se Coldplay, et al.) rockers are usually more concerned with what shade of pink their cover-up is than the stage of world affairs. (Okay, so maybe Bob Geldof has done some good shit in the humanitarian field, but homeboy hasn't put out a decent record since his days with the Boomtown Rats.)

Vancouver-based singer/songwriter Mike Weterings is an exception. In fact, he'll be using his upcoming Edmonton appearance at the Sidetrack Cafe as a fundraiser for Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), the non-profit organization that provides healthcare to regions where it wouldn't otherwise be available. "Trevor [Pomeroy, the Sidetrack's entertainment buyer] and I both have medical backgrounds," Weterings explains over the phone from his Vancouver home. "Trevor was actually a medic in the Canadian Armed Forces and I did a masters in Healthcare Administration, so the idea for the event was a natural one".

In countries where health infrastructures are inadequate-or, in many cases, nonexistent-MSF co-operates with regional governments and municipal authorities to administer healthcare to the local population. MSF's regular operations include vaccination programs, water and sanitation initiatives and construction work to rebuild hospitals and dispensaries. Even in remote locals and slum areas, MSF trains local personnel-all with the purpose of raising health standards to suitable levels.

So it's a good cause, then? You could say that.

Besides delivering medical care to poor nations, MSF's mandate also includes raising awareness in the Western world about the  dismal state of affairs in regions like sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS has reached pandemic proportions and basic necessities like clean water are painfully absent. "I think that MSF is a great example of an organization that is dealing with the [AIDS] crisis on many levels," says Weterings. "Clinic, education, delivering drugs an supplying healthcare professionals. This is part of the reason why I hope that we can offer some great support at the fundraiser. When I think about it, I'm pretty certain that if I were not a musician, it's very likely that I would be suing my experience in healthcare administration to work directly for an organization like MSF."

Weterings-whose sister also works with MSF in the Republic of Congo-spent three years traveling the world and eventually ended up in Africa for a prolonged period. "I hitchhiked from Cairo to South Africa in the '80's", he says. "I saw 14 countries and really immersed myself in the culture there."

In the process, Weterings familiarized himself not only with the continent's political and social landscape, but with its music as well. He was particularly drawn to the sounds of soukous, a style of dance-friendly music popular in Zaire. "Live, our sound goes over really well," says Weterings, "because in soukous, you can go out on these extended jams that really work in front of an audience."

An enthusiastic combination of African influences and the traditional dynamics of rock, Weterings's  music has drawn comparisons to Dave Matthews and Peter Gabriel, and has made him a fan fave out he left coast. His band's first album Aluminum Sea, was nominated for two West Coast Music Awards, including a Song of the Year nod for  "Someone I can Lean On".

"Soukous makes up about 50 percent of the band's sound now," Weterings says. "On the road, we can only bring a four-piece set-up-two guitars, bass and a drummer-but at our Vancouver shows we have an African djembe player, and a cellist." Let's just hope he doesn't bring a flag onstage with him too.

 

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