The Stingray Rising Stars Program at Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival was a huge success this year and featured artists from several musical genres. Participants included Les Moon Tunes, Bleum, McKinley Morrison & Williams, and Delirious Monks. Each finalist performed on Saturday, September 14, and was judged on talent, originality and stage presence by a panel of music industry experts. A pre-event voting campaign took place with over 3000 people voting online. Votes were also taken from members of the audience on that afternoon. The panel of industry judges comprised half of the final vote tally and the audience and online voting represented the remaining half. Once all the votes were tallied McKinley Morrison & Williams were announced as the winners of the $1,500 prize.
Born from creativity and a desire to be free in music, Josh McKinley, John Morrison, and Darrell Williams have brought their musical tastes together to form a completely original sound that is sonically comparable to jazz, Latin, world, funk, and fusion. This forging of musicianship has opened a side of music that is exciting and fresh, mixing sounds of the past with sounds of the present.
Josh McKinley has been playing guitar since he was 13 years old. It was a childhood passion that he started to take more seriously after finishing school. Since then, he has played with and founded almost a dozen New Brunswick groups, has toured all the Maritime provinces with multiple bands and has toured halfway across Canada several times. Never having taken formal music or guitar lessons, Josh has adapted over his career to form a natural & original approach to the guitar. He has been recorded on 7 albums and is no stranger to sitting in with artists and groups in a live and studio setting. Music is magic, and while listening to Josh play the guitar, that is what you can expect to feel.
John Morrison has been playing drums professionally for over 20 years. He has left New Brunswick and toured internationally several times, playing to crowds of 50,000+ people. John has studied with a few notable Maritime drum teachers including Joe McIntyre & Norman Calp. In 2008, he was featured on the cover of Drum etc... Canadian drum magazine and participated in a drum competition in Toronto, Canada where he won the fastest stroke competition. John is an absolute beast behind the kit and has been compared to drummers such as Buddy Rich.
Darrell Williams may as well have been born with a bass guitar. He has been playing music professionally for 40 years. Born in Yonkers, New York, Darrell made his way to Canada in 1979 touring North America with a show band. In 1989 he settled down in New Brunswick and began tearing up the East Coast music scene, changing the boundaries of how people looked at the bass guitar. Darrell has played with many great artists over the years including Dave Wilcox, Matt Anderson and Jeff Healey. When Darrell straps his bass on, something crazy is about to happen and you don’t want to miss it.
McKinley Morrison & Williams have been playing and touring together for a little over two years. In their short career, they have made a significant mark on the East Coast music scene while playing at music festivals and by creating their own brand of an intimate show experience called the “Uptown Jazz Ball,” fusing music, art, and food. MMW currently reside in New Brunswick, Canada. They have released one live album to date as a group and have been recorded together in the studio for several albums as a session band.
These three musicians enjoy pleasing audiences with their tasteful and explosive jams. At a McKinley Morrison & Williams show, you can expect a melodic and groove-based musical fusion, bass solos, guitar wizardry, and a drum clinic. Get out to see these cats!
What’s your earliest music memory?
Josh: I remember my friend and I, at age 4 and 5 standing in his front yard strumming broomsticks, rocking out hard like we were on a big stage.
John: My mother's steel band that practiced at the house when I was five or six.
Who’s your influences?
Josh: I listened to an eclectic variety of music growing up. Throughout my life, I have always jived with Paul Simon. Funk and rock took over when I discovered Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys, and then jazz, classical and world music.
John: I have listened to everything and take it all in as much as I can.
What’s your best memory on stage?
Josh: Too many cool moments with these cats. One of my favorites was John's drum solo at Dooryard Festival. The stage lost all power and lights moments before the solo started. John goes for it anyways with no PA and no stage lights and the crowd gathered closer to the stage to hear and see better. Near the end of the drum solo, the techs figured out the problem and everything came back on! We ended the song with full sound and lights again almost as if it was planned.
John: Probably Follyfest 2018. The crowd was wild and really into the set from start to finish.
Who is your favorite musician or band?
Josh: I'd have to say Paul Simon. He has stuck with me most of my life as an influence and I still love his music today.
John: Vinnie Colaiuta, phenomenal drummer and musician.
What’s your Favorite genre?
Josh: Tough one. I enjoy listening to many styles of music. Lately, world music and jazz music have been my go-to.
John: I like all of the genres.
What’s the best part of East Coast scene?
Josh: The friendships. Music really helps tie the provinces together and creates friendships and bonds between people who live in different areas. Not only for musicians, but also for the patrons attending the performances and festivals. It is nice to travel to a different city to play music, and almost feel like going home at the same time.
John: Best part of the New Brunswick scene? The people are very nice and really supportive of live music.
Congratulations on winning the Stingray Rising Stars award! What do you plan to do with the $1500 prize?
Josh: We will be putting that money towards recording our first studio album. Hoping to head into the studio late fall and through the winter! We are planning to record at Trillium Studios in Saint John.