Gary Cain

Gary Cain

Canadian Gary Cain doesn’t pussyfoot. Not musically, not lyrically. Bombast meets social consciousness on his new album, Next Stop, where we get Cain in triplicate: a one-man power trio. Handling all guitar, bass and drum parts, Cain never walks through the door; he kicks it open. The majority of his ten original tunes here follow a pattern of sorts. Aggressive, churning guitar riffs open most every track and serve as a vehicle for his pointed, no-nonsense lyrics.

In the album’s lead-off, “Billionaires In Space,” the mega-rich, mega-elite get a good Caining: “Seas are rising, and you got no home/They don’t pay no taxes and we’re on our own/Billionaires in Space/Looking for a saviour ‘cause times are tough/Just drop to your knees and look straight up/At the Billionaires in space.”

Propelled by speed-demon shredding with thick overtones and echoes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Hendrix, among others, this high-powered opener ends with Cain’s knockout punch: “One small step for mankind to a living wage/Instead we’re living through a second gilded age/Time has come now won’t you join me as we raise/our collective middle finger to the billionaires in space.”

As with that strong opener, most of the numbers address, attack or question our culture, our society, our world. “Confusion” has a roiling guitar riff which perfectly underscores its subject, and “Gatekeeper” has Cain squarely aiming his Fender Strat and accusatory lyrics at the powers that be: “Hey gatekeeper, tell me what’s your role?/Wine and dine, always looking fine in the emperor’s new clothes/Oh gatekeeper don’t try to tell me what you know/I had my ten thousand hours in about ten thousand hours ago.”

While Cain laments a world gone insane in “Crazy,” don’t expect any white flags in “Keep On Comin’”—or anywhere else on the album—as he states, “But I’m gonna keep on comin’/‘Til they put their hands in the air/I’m gonna keep on comin’/‘Til I’m there.”

“Kitchen Sink” is the first of two instrumentals, and in contrast to the bluesy rockin’ of the bulk of the tunes, it highlights Cain’s mastery of country licks, played with the same breakneck speed and intensity as the other cuts. This is followed by “House On Fire,” which could be titled “Guitar On Fire.”

The singer narrows his target to one person in “Gone,” (“You keep stringin’ everybody along/But you stayed at the party too long”) before he takes one more shot at society in “Ain’t Up To Me”: “Spin takes the place of truth/Takes a whole lotta tryin’ just to get a message through.”

Next stop on Next Stop is also the last stop, “A Short, Furious Goodbye,” a second instrumental with the album’s only guest appearance–John Lee on organ. A slow, melodic opening soon gives way to, well, a short, furious goodbye indeed. With sharp lyrics and stellar guitar playing on this latest opus, Cain more than qualifies as an artist to be reckoned with.

Jim George


Gary Cain is a Canadian-born guitarist, singer, and songwriter with one foot planted firmly in the blues, and the other foot planted in seemingly everything else. He’s been called “ridiculously talented” and a “jaw-dropper” by Blues Matters Magazine.

The foundation of his virtuosic style was laid via marathon practice sessions as a youngster in his parents’ basement. “Back then it’s all I would do some days – sometimes 13, 14 hours a day. I’d have to be reminded to eat.” says Cain.

Long days poring over the musical styles of blues legends gave him a deep respect for the music, but he’s not beholden to it. “I’m not a purist.” he says, “What made those players so great was what they brought to the music to make it their own. Albert King was the best Albert King there’ll ever be. You gotta do your own thing with it.”

Cain’s music career eventually led him from the blues clubs in Canada, to a 6-nights a week gig in Dubai in the house band of the largest nightclub in the emirate at the time. Playing cover tunes paid well, but eventually saw Cain return to Canada burnt out. “I didn’t touch my guitar for 3 months after I got back, which I hadn’t done since I first picked it up as a kid. It had always been my favourite thing, and somehow, I’d made it into a chore. Eventually I just thought back to what made me love it in the first place, playing strictly for the joy and expression of it, not to make money or fit other people’s expectations. Lots of people want you to fit into their box. In the end the most important thing is you stay true to yourself. I’m thankful to have learned that lesson early on and it’s something I’ll never forget.”

The shutdowns and tour cancellations of COVID saw Cain return to the woodshed for marathon days of practice and writing, culminating in his second album, “Next Stop,” set to release May 6, 2022. Written and recorded in Austin, Texas, the album sees Cain’s seat-of-the-pants guitar playing, strong songwriting, and stylistic diversity on full display.

In 2016 Gary placed fourth in the world in the blues category of Grammy Winner Lee Ritenour’s Six String Theory guitar competition, judged by such greats as Joe Bonamassa, Ry Cooder, and Joe Satriani. In 2018 he opened for George Thorogood and the Destroyers and was a semi-finalist in the 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. He has played at festivals and clubs across Canada, the USA and Europe. Gary is an Official Artist for Fractal Audio Systems, and GHS Strings.





MAY 6, 2022