bounces back from heart ailment to keep playing
By Charles Cassady
Published July 23, 2008
Dussault has been making music with the Blues Project since
1989. (Photo credit: ColinDussault.com)
blues-music legend Colin Dussault said he recently read a stridently
negative online review of a performance by him and his band, the
Colin Dussault Blues Project. It got him so incensed the only thing
to prevent him posting a rebuttal was that he wasn’t a “member”
of the Web site.
“‘Blues Nazi’ is a term we musicians have,” said Dussault,
to describe the attitude of the critic, whose essential complaint
was that the Blues Project played too much popular stuff and not
enough Blues (capital letter). The authentic Mississippi string-tie,
slide-guitar, poverty-wracked, woman/the sheriff done-me-wrong,
empty liquor bottles, dusk on the bayou, deep, deep southern blues.
“I’m a blues player and a blues lover,” said Dussault,
of Lakewood, but he affirms that he and his band reserve the right
to bring their harmonica-driven blues styles to anything they want,
be it a Bob Dylan or Van Morrison cover or their own originals,
most recently showcased on the group’s latest self-released CD “Colinized.”
But don’t take Dussault’s word for it that he’s got
the blues in his system. Ask the Cleveland Clinic. For earlier this
year Dussault had a serious health scare from what might be described
as a broken heart.
On his own homepage,
www.colindussault.com, the incident is described in novelistic
detail. Dussault archly notes that it was while voting in the Democratic
Primaries in March that the trouble began: blurred vision, a sore
throat, a headache, an earache, and a pain “like a tractor-trailer
rig was pressing down on my chest.” He made an appointment with
a doctor for three days later and soldiered on through his full-time
regimen of gigs, assuming he had some sort of flu. But his doctor
could find nothing clearly wrong. After cycles of the symptoms reviving
and subsiding - and visits to the Lakewood Hospital Emergency Room
- Dussault got the advice to check into the Cardiac Care Unit.
“I felt perfectly fine. I had no pain and almost left
my hospital room three different times through the course of the
day. Each time I mentioned leaving the nurses convinced me to stay
to await my CAT scan.” And Dussault would have left, to play some
important concerts, except that snowy weather led to the playdates
getting cancelled. Dussault now calls that a miracle; if he had
gone to perform - straining himself to carry his heavy gear, the
way he learned in the family moving-van business - he might very
well have died.
Dussault had developed an aortic tear, in the arch
of the main artery feeding the heart. The same ailment killed actor
John Ritter. Dussault was rushed to the Cleveland Clinic, and had
to contemplate the likelihood of risky open-heart surgery, and that
he might not survive or suffer a stroke during the procedure.
But Dussault’s “atypical Type A dissection,” fortunately,
responded to treatment with non-invasive medication and lots of
bed rest. “It’s clotting, which is a good thing.” The burly bluesman
has lost 50 pounds and is keeping to a regular regimen of medicine
to control his blood pressure. And, “I gave up carrying furniture.”
After about three weeks of bed rest, Dussault and
the Blues Project returned to active duty at area attractions, bars
and festivals. “I came back, and I just didn’t play as hard,” he
said. “I’ve got people carrying my gear.”
On Sunday, the Colin Dussault Blues Project plays
a free outdoor show on Sunday at the Westlake Recreation Center,
28955 Hilliard Boulevard, part of Westlake’s summer concert series.
All are invited, and the show starts at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday at
noon Dussault also performs at the Emerald Necklace Marina in Rocky
River. Both shows are free to the public.
This Westlake show has poignant significance for Dussault
and his five-piece band. Last year when the Blues Project performed
at Clague Park as part of the same concert series, the wife of drummer
Fredo Stable-Perez attended. “Wives never come to gigs,” said Dussualt.
“That’s the reality. That day she showed up with their two children.”
It was the last time most of the band saw her. Rachel
Stable-Perez, who had suggested the title “Colinized” for the new
CD, subsequently fell ill with what was thought to be food poisoning.
It turned out to be an unexpected, adverse reaction to prescription
medication, and she died suddenly at home. She was 38.
“It’s been a very crazy year,” said Dussault. “Very
sobering. It makes you appreciate your life and what you have around