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Big Joe Burke

Born in Ft. St. John, B.C. (Canada) - Big Joe Burke's life story is the stuff that country songs and legends have long been made of - forcing him to deal with life choices made and the effects of the same, and forging his connection with music at a very early age.

The illegitimate son of a runaway, wife/mother, Burke moved to Edmonton, Alberta with his mother and step-father at about three years of age - where he was raised for three years with two younger half-brothers between oil fields and farms. Early memories include riding shot-gun in his step-father's pick-up truck: "He worked on the oil rigs, and was a big fan of country music, so we'd be listening to Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr., George Jones, Merle Haggard - real country music, real loud."

At the age of six, Burke was told by his parents they were taking him to "stay with some friends for awhile." The friends turned out to be foster parents, Burke never saw his mother or step-father again, and didn't reconnect with his two younger siblings until a father of two, himself. Burke's biological father remains a mystery to this day, his mother commit suicide when he was about nine, and he has four elder half brothers he's never met.

When he was nine, Burke was adopted into a middle class family with six kids, two cats and a dog. The loss of his family, and three years of neglect and abuse in various foster care homes, made the transition from alone in the world to family member a difficult one for young Burke to make.

"I remember being plunked down in front of the stereo with a pair of headphones, and my new teen siblings records. All I'd ever heard before that time was country music. Suddenly I was listening to rock'n'roll! I remember the first time I heard "The Beatles; Abbey Road" - that album changed everything for me. I was listening to it when I decided that music was going to be my thing."

In his teens, Burke was drawn to the works of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Pete Townshend and The Who. As a young adult, bands like "The Ramones", "The Clash", "Velvet Underground", "Elvis Costello" and "Squeeze".

Burke's own musical career began in the early 80's, when he was hired as a roadie for Edmonton's "Junior Gone Wild". It didn't take long for Burke to make his way onto a stage himself. In the early 80's Burke played in Punk/Psychedlic bands, in 1987 (after making the move from Edmonton to Vancouver) he formed and played in several alt-rock bands. Lasting impressions and several favourably reviewed albums were made.

In 1989 Burke met and married his wife of 20 years (at June 21st, 2009). In 1991 they had their first child, a son. In 1994 they brought baby number two, a daughter, into the world. Not long thereafter Big Joe shifted his focus entirely toward raising kids, developing a stable career in Graphic Design and Web-Development, and in 1998 - supporting his wife through a battle with cancer. All of which added up to over a decade long hiatus from music.

"No regrets. My family needed me. Music had to wait."

In the Fall and Winter of 2005, with both kids in their teens, Burke was inspired to pick up where he left off in the 90's: "My passion for music never faded, so when demands on my time and energy did - I found myself returning to my musical roots - playing, writing and singing country and rock'n'roll songs. It just felt right. Like this was the music I was born to do. Honest, gritty, alt-country songs that tell a story."

Writing new songs at an accelerated rate, and playing at Local Jams with frequency - Big Joe Burke soon began to establish himself in Vancouver's Roots Music scene, developing a base of appreciative fans, attracting the attention and respect of some of the finest, professional roots musicians in the city. Many of whom began expressing a desire to work with Big Joe that he found hard to believe, and hard to resist.

Big Joe Burke - the band - was formed in the Spring of 2006, and began playing gigs throughout Vancouver in the Fall. His debut album "Love or Money" garnered rave reviews from Vancouver to Berlin and established Burke as a powerful and passionate singer-songwriter who has what it takes to become a legend in his own right.

Listed as one of "BC's Best Bands" by The Province Newspaper's Tom Harrison for two years running (2007/2008) - Burke's rowdy and rousing brand of alt-country music has been garnering him the love and respect of fans from all walks of life, a wide range of musical tastes and ages. Many of whom hail Burke as being one of the best country singers in Canada today.

"Quiver" - Big Joe Burke's follow-up album - released by YVR Records on May 22nd, 2009 - presents timeless and topical subject matter through an intensely expressive fusion of country, rock'n'roll and the blues. From beautiful love songs to gritty life songs. For dancers, for drivers, for lovers, for fighters. If you love Americana, Blues, Country, Folk, Honky Tonk, Rockabilly and/or Rock'n'roll, Big Joe Burke's "Quiver" will steal your heart and make a life long fan out of you.

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