Meet Jody Raffoul “Canada’s Best Kept Secret “
“The Early Years”
The oldest son of first generation immigrants, Jody Raffoul grew up in Leamington, a small farming town in Southern Ontario. Raffoul was raised with strong family values and tremendous work ethic passed down from his parents who worked the fields picking tomatoes in the hot southern Ontario summers and then in the factories that processed those tomatoes in the fall. So at age 15 when Raffoul bought his first guitar from a neighbour, it was that same work ethic, instilled in him all those years prior, that he poured into learning his craft. Raffoul is a self-taught musician. Although, like stories told around a camp fire, many of his earliest fans talk of a time when they saw him on the porch on Wigle Street getting valuable lessons from his neighbor, Uncle Morris. At age 17 he played his first gig at the Village Inn Hotel in Leamington and he has been going strong ever since. Born with a voice for Rock and Roll and blessed with an uncanny drive, Raffoul has taken nature and nurture and turned it into a successful, uncompromising music career.
With the vocal versatility to cover the likes of Plant, Daltrey, Marriott, McCartney and Paul Rodgers, Raffoul gained a solid following within the local music scene. Soon bars were competing to book his band The Bad Apples, that Raffoul helped form, and in which he played along-side his cousin and fellow musician Ron Raffoul. The Apples as they were referred to dominated the local music scene in the late 80’s early 90’s. Bars and clubs would be packed to hear renditions of favorite rock classics by The Beatles, Zeppelin, The Who, Bad Company and many more. Not one to rest on his local success, Raffoul set off to record his first self-titled CD of original material which was released locally and sold out of the trunk of his car at gigs. Raffoul began to gain notoriety for more than just his ability to cover classic rock tunes. Songs like Dreamer, and Color of Tears revealed his soulful melodic side, while tracks like Homeland and Hamburg, evoked this working man’s raw, gritty, in your face power. Hamburg, the story of paying your dues in the music industry, would prove to be prophetic. Raffoul would go on to not just sing his songs but live his songs, playing well over 200 shows a year both acoustic and with a full band.
In 1999, Raffoul debuted his follow-up effort Simple Life, a collection of mostly one-take acoustic songs. In this stripped-down, soul baring release, Raffoul writes about family struggle, finding love and creating a family of his own. Songs like the title track Simple Life became a fan favourite along with the nostalgic Grabtime, a song about his memories of growing up in small town Canada and the challenges that came along with that. And growing he was — both in his songwriting and his popularity, whether at home or across the border in the Detroit Music scene. This attention would lead to Raffoul sharing the stage with some of Rock and Roll’s best including Paul Rodgers, John Entwistle, and The Allman Brothers, just to name a few!
As Raffoul continued his rigorous schedule, he wrote and recorded a third release, 2004’s Like a Star. This recording would bring Raffoul international attention with the track Light of Day. Unbeknownst to Raffoul, a fan submitted that track to Bon Jovi’s “Have a Nice Gig” contest. Though Raffoul was one of 17,500 entrants, he went on to win that contest locally and was ultimately selected by Jon Bon Jovi personally as the national winner. This resulted in Raffoul and his band opening for Bon Jovi in front of a sold-out crowd at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. Success continued to come in moderation as Raffoul continued to write and play over 200 shows a year all while raising a family.
In contrast with the “big production” sound of Like a Star, 2008’s Big Sky was a return to the unvarnished, bare bones rock sound that started it all for Raffoul. Released on the cusp of a separation and divorce, the album’s straight forward sound and ever honest lyrics proved to be a success. Songs like Home, originally penned for a Robin Williams film, showcased Raffoul’s melodic voice and ability to write for hire; while tracks like Should I Have Known Better and Fontana Lane offer a surprisingly open look into the personal struggles that shaped this record . In his own words Raffoul explains his writing process on the album. “You know I’ve been lucky enough to be doing this for a long time and making a living at it. But the blessing can also be somewhat of a curse. I could never separate my music from my life or vise versa so it’s all there in the songs if you will, I couldn’t hide it if I tried..but I can tell you I haven’t compromised..and if I am proud of just one thing, it’s that the music is honest and comes from real life and the heart.”
“New Release “
With nearly ten years elapsed since his last Studio Album. Raffoul is set to release his 5th, and what most who have heard the record say, his best LP of all. “9 Wigle Street Leamington Ontario.”
9 Wigle is a collection of true stories of love, loss, trials and triumphs with an emphasis on family. All backed by solid music. And pure and refined, timeless vocals. Always known for his power, Raffoul shows us that age hasn’t hindered but only enhanced it. The first single, Bird and Bee, is a bawdy statement song that sets the tone for this album. Raffoul’s vocal struts across the track backed by raunchy guitars and a killer bassline. “I’m So In Love With You” is a beautiful melody written for his second son Peter about the rebuilding of family relationships after divorce. Ten years has brought many changes in Raffoul’s personal life; divorce, new found love with his wife Bridget (a talented performer in her own right), two more boys and “the girl,” and budding music careers for his eldest sons Billy and Peter, who have each inked record deals with major labels. It seems that Raffoul has not only made it through the tough times in the music industry, but he has came out swinging with this release.