Loose Blues News

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February 2011 – Vol. 27. No 2

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Canadian Invasion: Canadian Blues societies have risen to the occasion to sponsor their favourite local blues artists at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis this month. Canadian Matt Anderson was the big winner last year and this has surely motivated every Blues Society across the country to hold fundraisers and special events to help finance the trek to the home of the Blues (and Graceland).

Liz Sykes of the Ottawa Blues Society compiled a list of Canadian participants and here it is (with their respective sponsoring Blues Society indicated in brackets): Erin McCallum (Bruce County), Matt Besey (Canada South), David Rotundo (Canal Bank Shuffle), The Blues Angels (Collingwood Jazz & Blues), Tom Lockwood Band (Great Lakes), Teresa Malenfant & the Instigators (Harvest Jazz & Blues), JC Crossfire (Le Relatant), The Bad Poetry Band (Loyal Blues), Al Wood & the Woodsmen (Ottawa ), Carlos del Junco & the Blues Mongrels (Toronto), Bill Johnson Blues Band (Victoria), Sweet Willie Tea (Canada South), Harrison Kennedy (Canal Bank Shuffle), Rick Taylor (Great Lakes), Mark Taylor (Loyal Blues), Michael Jerome Browne (Montreal), Brandon Agnew w/Benny Gutman (Ottawa), Mud Dog (White Rock), Sam and Luke (White Rock).

One week later, Memphis hosts the Folk Alliance Conference which also includes a lot of blues and blues-friendly artists including Treasa Levasseur and Suzie Vinnick. Your (barely)managing editor will also be attending, though not showcasing, but surely jamming up a storm in the hallways and stairwells of the Memphis Marriott .

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Jimmy’s Jam: K-W Bluesfest’s Claude Cloutier and the Grand River Blues Society put together a benefit for drummer Jimmy Boudreau, who has been a fixture in the Kitchener music scene for over 30 years. (He was the house drummer at the famous Lulu’s and has played with most of the area’s musicians.) The entire blues community stepped up to support Jimmy in his battle with cancer. Waterstreet Blues Band, Lance Anderson, Steve Strongman, Jazz Williams, Daddy Long Legs, Douglas Watson Band, Miss Angel, Mike McDonald, Alex Tintinalli, Cheryl Lescom, John Lee and many other artists performed in the all-day, all-night session.

Lance Anderson writes “It was a warm afternoon despite the frigid temperatures outside, and all those that made this possible should know that they did good. It really was inspiring to see. Not just all the musicians who donated their time, and the sound company (Sherwood Music) that donated the system and backline, and all the volunteers, but also the music fans and supporters who gave so much love to Jimmy and packed the place. One can only think that their good wishes will serve him well in his recovery from cancer.”

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Women’s Blues Revue Broadcast: CBC’s Canada Live will be broadcasting this year’s Women’s Blues Revue recorded at Massey Hall last November. You can hear it on Feb 17 – CBC Radio 2 – 7:00 pm (94.1 FM in Toronto) and Feb 18 – CBC Radio 1 – 2:00 pm (99.1 FM in Toronto). For frequencies across Canada – please check www.cbc.ca/frequency. To stream the concert, on demand – please go to www.cbc.ca/radio2/cod/concerts/20101127women

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Etta ailing: Legendary R&B star Etta James is gravely ill and is battling leukemia. She has been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease since 2009, but her health problems have worsened and new court papers reveal she is currently undergoing cancer treatment. It is not known when she was diagnosed with the latest ailment.

The cancer revelation came to light in legal documents filed by her husband of 41 years, Artis Mills, who has asked a California judge to grant him control of her finances. Mills claims Etta has become too sick to manage her own money.

Mills is seeking control of more than $1 million, but is facing a challenge from James’ son, Donto, who was handed power of attorney along with his wife Christy and brother Sametto in 2008. Donto James has submitted his own court declaration, insisting he has no objections to releasing the money to cover the costs of his mother’s medical treatment, but would prefer a third party to be placed in charge “to avoid present and future family conflict and discrepancies”.

Etta James has been out of the spotlight since January 2010, when she was hospitalized in Southern California with a serious infection. At the time, she had been seeking treatment to kick a dependency on painkillers and over-the-counter medication. James’ public battle with heroin addiction and numerous stints in rehab for substance abuse were chronicled in 2008 film Cadillac Records, starring Beyonce Knowles as the R&B icon.

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– Brian Blain