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Bobby Cameron

The jagged rocks of Cape Breton may be a far cry from the dry and desolate flats of the western Canadian prairies, but to Bobby Cameron they both represent the rugged backdrops of his roots and the journey he later took to seek his musical identity.

Years ago, Cameron left the rustic island weaned on the rock-and-roll styles of the legendary Matt Minglewood and blues icon Dutch Mason, both genre counterpoints to the Celtic-flavoured roots music that dominated the region, hoping for a niche of his own in which to flourish. He found a cultural sanctuary in Edmonton in the 1980s, where he began to cut his teeth as a musical contender.

"I got my energy from the Maritimes," recalls Cameron. "There is an intensity of just giving it all you've got when you get the chance. Jimmy Rankin, Minglewood, Mason... they'd all get up there and for 90 minutes, they absolutely turn it up. Going from a small community to a larger centre in Canada, you get a mindset that you have a lot to prove."

The credentials came quickly for Cameron, who first garnered national attention winning the MuchMusic Guitar Warz competition in 1990, leading to several appearances with Jeff Healey, one of the contest's judges. Other adjudicators were held spellbound by his virtuosity and riveting action on the fretboard as Cameron managed to capture the fiery emotion and down- home feel that reflected his energy and heritage. Armed with his acoustic, he could make any locale seem like a front-porch jam. And with his electric guitar, Cameron could churn out the sounds of a kid from a hinterland, burning to be heard by the rest of the multitudes. It's that ability and drive that continues to be a hallmark of his live show.

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