The Smoking Aces are returning to the live music scene with a new sound after being on hiatus for several years.

Frontman John White says they've added some new members and will be playing a mixture of blues, rhythm and rock n roll as opposed to being strictly a blues band.

In recent years, they've taken a step back, done some studio work, and released the album 'Dream Weaver' in 2022. But they missed performing in front of a live crowd.

"My keyboard player (Mike Holden) and I bumped into each other a few times and then we kind of looked at each other and said, you know what, it would be kind of nice to get things back up and running again," says White. "We actually missed being in front of people, you know, getting that feedback from the audience."

Besides White and Holden, the band includes Marty Cochrane on rhythm guitar, harmonica and vocals, drummer/vocalist Denis Forest and Mike McLaughlin on lead guitar.

They've been practising for several months and will be playing their first gig as the headliner of the Big Hill Chill at the Cochrane and District Ag Society on Feb. 24.

White says they had low expectations heading into the first practice, thinking it would take time for the players to find their feet and get to know each other. That wasn't the case.

"All of us have been playing for over 20 years, so it just worked from the very first practice. You know, it just worked. Every song that we played sounded good, and it's gone on that way."

They'll have full three sets ready to go by the time the Big Chill rolls around.

White welcomes having the addition of more vocalists. He previously did 99.9 per cent of the vocals. 

"Marty's voice is very different to mine. It's a lot more gravelly, so there's certain songs that I can do reasonably well and there's other songs that he does better. And Denis also sings pretty well. It's great for the audience because they're getting a bit more variety, "

White was a founding member of the Smoking Ace, and has been playing, singing and writing the blues for over 25 years.

Cochrane musician and artist Marty Cochrane has been a professional musician and vocalist since the early 70s, performing many different styles folk, country, rock and blues.  He toured for 15 years and joins the band after 10 years as frontman for the Bluesland Horn Band and his own band Why Martin?

Lead guitarist Mike McLaughlin hails from Calgary and has a strong passion for roots music, including blues, vintage country, and British classic rock. He has dedicated many years developing a unique vintage sound. He spent time with the Nostalgia Cowboys and Midnight Rambler before joining the Smoking Aces.

Keyboard player Mike Holden had already recorded six albums of original material when he joined the Smoking Aces back in 2017. Since then, he has been a key member of the band adding his unique keyboard skills to the mix.

Drummer and percussionist Denis Forest has been playing drums on stages since he was 14. Raised on rock then disco, ballroom, gospel, country and blues, he considers his drum kit to be his "office" and is never happier than when he gets to make beautiful music and entertain.

The Smoking Aces will be performing both covers and original material. Both White and Cochrane are prolific songwriters, and White believes they already have enough original material for a new album.

That, though, isn't a priority.

"For now, we'll focus on the live shows and getting back in front of people. Having a good time for us and a good time for them is what it's all about."

You can follow the band here for updates.