The leader of an award-winning Canadian blues band, the guitarist Drew Nelson had to hide a transistor radio under his pillow as a lad -- an essential tool in hearing the diverse musical sounds his strictly religious parents were otherwise enforcing a blockade against. He eventually traveled far and wide with his acoustic guitar to at least half a dozen European and Arab nations, but in the end has remained loyal to the sounds he first heard drifting over the border from stations such as WLS in Chicago: hard electric blues as played by the masters, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, et al.
Beginning with initial inspiration from the Beatles, Nelson joined the important list of instrumental talents who purchased their first axes with the proceeds from a paper route. At 16 he was fortunate to have a guitar teacher who wrapped his hands around slide guitar as well as chord voicings from the jazz crusade rather than the British Invasion. Not to neglect musical influences from the latter category, however, it was Nelson's fondness for the Rolling Stones that inevitably nurtured his devotion to the Chicago blues style, initially with a group called the Back Alley John Revue in reference to a harmonica frontman who used the stage name Back Alley John.
The Drew Nelson Band was formed in 1989 and began touring throughout Canada, scoring a Juno Award for the song "Nothin' to Show" in 1991. Nelson's band also tours as an accompanying outfit for blues leader Dutch Mason. Material written by Nelson for these collaborations has also come up for further awards, been included in anniversary compilations of the excellent Edmonton Stoney Plain label, and been featured on soundtracks including the television series DaVinci's Inquest. Nelson and his group often open for blues headliners such as B.B. King.