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13-year-old Nanaimo blues prodigy Liam Docherty.

Handout

Describing himself as the Red Headed Blues Boy for obvious reasons, British Columbia’s Liam Docherty is a blues music wunderkind by any appearance.

The 13-year-old Nanaimo native is among the nominees announced this week for a national Maple Blues Award in the New Artist category.

Unlike most child prodigies of the genre, Docherty eschews flash for a less animated approach to the music. His vocals are high and light, not tortured.

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The freckled phenom plays his prized Taylor GS-Mini acoustic with filigree and without facial contortions. He bought the guitar at age seven, saving up money earned busking at farmers markets. Young Docherty, who also owns a tobacco-sunburst Vaschenko Stratocaster-style electric, favours finger-picked notes in the key of E minor, just as his blues heroes Jack Owens and the haunting Skip James did generations before.

Among the dozen songs on his debut album, Modern. Magic. Melody., are five cover tunes and seven originals. Among the latter is These Blues Are Red, a gently boastful shuffle about a six-string slinger with a trademark colour.

Come for the cowlick; stay for the guitar licks.

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