by Scott Roos
On the surface, 17 year old Prince Albert guitar shredding sensation Blake Kawula seems to be just another kid methodically picking away at songs by his favourite bands - Van Halen, White Lion, and Ozzy to name a few. It's a simple scene; one that has played out literally thousands upon thousands of times in North America. It's a time honoured tradition since the birth of rock n roll. Kawula is a kid with a guitar practicing songs in his bedroom... He's got a poster of Randy Rhodes reverently but hap-hazzardly adorning his wall, a Marshall stack behind him likely turned up to 11. But then the music starts and you know that he's taking those steps to become the real deal. There's potential. That's the best way to describe Kawula's journey so far. Blake Kawula: kid with potential.
"Ever since I was a kid: birthdays, Christmas and me working, I've been saving up for music gear. I have a Marshall half stack, an Eddie Van Halen Stack, and then I have another Marshall amp, and then lots of guitars. I have quite a lot of gear," explains Kawula.
It's definitely refreshing listening to Kawula geek out about his guitars. He knows a lot about them; likely too much considering most kids his age get more excited coming home to hone their Xbox skills. However, unlike many of his peers, Kawula gets home from work or school and heads straight to his room to play guitar.
"Basically I come home and just practice. I've been getting into music theory with all the scales and modes. I'm always learning different types of techniques. Lately, I've been working on 8 finger tapping which is actually pretty hard," says Kawula of his practice regimen.
"I'll go on Guitar Tab Pro and search up different types of techniques or licks and then I'll just go from there. But usually my room is a music room basically. I have all my amps and stuff. So I basically just come downstairs and work on things," continues Kawula.
Kawula comes by all of this honestly. As the son of well respected Prince Albert guitarist Kelly Kawula, Blake no doubt learned to love and appreciate music from the bygone era when rock and metal ruled the world. Hence his love bands from 1981 instead of 2021.
"My dad's been playing guitar ever since he was 14 years old. With his own band he's opened for Honeymoon Suite, Streetheart, Nazareth and different types of bands like that. He could tell you some pretty cool stories for sure," says Kawula fondly.
"My dad showed me all my favourite bands. My favourite bands when I was a kid were Guns n Roses and Night Ranger. I remember my dad driving me to pre-school and him blasting the music. I would get sad if it wasn't playing. So that's what really inspired me. It was kinda good because as a beginner guitarist if I needed help with gear or looking for a guitar of course my dad was there," continues Kawula.
At this point, Kawula is in his final year of high school. He's got big dreams and honestly, more power to him. With his graduation looming in the distance, Kawula has been starting to think of his future beyond social media likes and shares. He's got no band currently, although offers from different places have been trickling in. For now, the future remains uncertain; that precious potential yet to be fully realized. But, Kawula has taken the necessary steps, at least as many of those steps as he can in this early stage of his career. It's going to be interesting to see where all of this diligence, dedication and unbridled passion leads. One thing's for certain in all of this, though. The kid is GOOD.
"I'm looking into going to Grant MacEwan University for music. I'm looking at that. Also, I want to travel around with my instrument. My dream is to go to L.A. because that's where all my favourite music started - the Sunset Strip. So that's something I'm looking at as well which will be hard with all the expenses and stuff but musicians when they're starting out they don't really have that much anyway. In the long run, I really want to see myself making a living off music," says Kawula.
*all pics by Deanna Roos of Contingent Colours Photography