The Maple Blues Band: (left to right) Howard Moore trumpet, Al Lerman tenor sax, harmonica, acoustic guitar, Chris Murphy baritone sax, Tom Bona drums, Gary Kendall bass, band leader, musical director, Michael Fonfara organ, piano, Pat Carey tenor sax, Teddy Leonard electric & acoustic guitar. Photo credit: James Dean


The Maple Blues Band has been a cornerstone of the annual Maple Blues Awards Ceremony in Toronto since 1999. This world class, eight member group includes some of Canada’s highly respected blues musicians, all of whom are multiple Maple Blues Award winners and nominees.

Providing the MBA’s musical background and theme, The Maple Blues Band also accompanies all the special guests who perform as part of that special night.

The Maple Blues Band with singers John Mays (Fathead), Chuck Jackson (Downchild) and Dawn Tyler Watson are also part of the touring ensemble, The Maple Blues Revue  They have released one recording, Live at Twisted Pines on the Preservation Music label.


Band Members

GARY KENDALL: Musical Director/Band Leader/Bassist

Gary Kendall | Band Leader | Bass |

Gary Kendall is probably the best known bass player in Canadian Blues, having toured and recorded with the legendary Downchild Blues Band twice, 1979-83 and currently since 1995. He has won the Maple Blues Award for Bassist of the Year seven times and received sixteen nominations. In 1993 Gary received the prestigious “Blues With A Feeling Award” from The Toronto Blues Society. In 2002, the city of Thunder Bay presented him with the “Thunder Blues Award” along with The Thunder Bay Blues Society’s “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award. Gary Kendall has performed with Snooky Pryor, Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Big Jay McNeeley, Bob Margolin, Big Dave MacLean, Duke Robillard, Morgan Davis, Zora Young, Phil Guy and Joe Louis Walker, to name only a few.
Besides Downchild and The Maple Blues Revue, he has recorded with Chris Murphy, Little Bobby & The Jumpstarts, Peter Schmidt & Shane Scott, Brian Blain, Maria Aurigema, Ray Edge, Son Roberts, Tobin Spring and David Vest. His own 47 Records label has released the solo recordings, Dusty & Pearl and Feels Real Strong along with the digital singles, This Sacred Ground and Sumlin Around.When not with Downchild, The Maple Blues Revue or The Gary Kendall Band, his insatiable need to play the Blues finds him with Robin Bank$, The Swingin’ Blackjacks, Son Roberts and The Mighty Duck Blues Band.


Teddy Leonard | Lead Guitar

Teddy Leonard has won The Maple Blues Award for Guitarist of The Year once and been nominated in that category three times. He is a longtime member of the Juno and Maple Blues Award winning band Fathead . A guitarist who is known for his own original blues sound, Teddy has recorded and toured with Fathead, Little Mack Simmons, Big Daddy G, The Johnny Max Band, Paul Reddick, Porkbelly Futures, The Gary Kendall Band and Rita Chiarelli along with maintaining a busy career as a freelancer.  In 2010 the city of London, Ontario presented Teddy Leonard with “The Jimmy Lewis Award”, a life time achievement award recognizing his long career as a blues musician.



Michael Fonfara | Hammond Organ & Grand Piano |

Long known as one of the busiest, most versatile keyboard players in North America, Michael Fonfara has added immeasurably to hundreds of recording sessions in a career that began in the 60s when he was a member of Mike Bloomfield’s, Electric Flag and the supergroup, Rhinoceros. Since then he has played with artist’s as varied as Lou Reed and Solomon Burke. A member of The Downchild Blues Band since 1992, Fonfara has won The Maple Blues Award for Keyboard Player of The Year four times and has be nominated in that category nine times.



Chris Murphy | Baritone Saxophone & Horn Arrangements |

Saxophonist, Chris Murphy has been a full-time musician since 1978 and has been fronting his own band since 1985. HOTWIRED, his 3rd solo CD, and his 7th recording as a bandleader was released in October 2011.  Chris has toured and recorded with Jack de Keyzer, Alberta Adams (Detroit’s Queen of the Blues) and Chicago Pete.



Al Lerman | Harmonica & Tenor Saxophone |,

Multi-instrumentalist Al Lerman (harmonica, tenor saxophone, guitar and vocals)  is the band leader of the 2x Juno Award winning blues/roots outfit FATHEAD. He also performs regularly as a solo acoustic artist and has released two critically acclaimed solo albums to date. He can often be heard as a guest artist with a variety of top-notch bands. Al has produced and/or appeared on numerous internationally acclaimed recordings  including releases by blues greats Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Morgan Davis and Mel Brown. He has received several Maple Blues nominations in his instrument categories.

Pat Carey | Tenor Saxophone |

Pat Carey has been the saxophone player with The Downchild Blues Band since 1985. Pat has received seven Maple Blues Awards for Horn Player of The Year and has been nominated fifteen times in that category. A very busy freelance musician, Pat has appeared on Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne’s Juno Award Winning CD “Let It Loose”, Sam Myers’ WC Handy Award Nominated CD “Coming From The Old School”, as well as numerous recordings by Downchild, Fathead, Jack de Keyzer, Rita Chiarelli, Jimmy Cavallo, Ron Hynes, Curley Bridges, Gary Kendall, Raoul & The Big Time, and many others. He also leads and records with his own jazz group, Pat Carey’s Jazz Navigators.


TOM BONA - IMG_7961_5x7_crop

Tom Bona | Drums |

Tom Bona (Toronto/Halifax) is a multiple Maple Blues Award Winner, including five time winner for Drummer of the Year. A long time member of the ‘Maple Blues Revue Band’, and ‘Raoul and the Big Time’, Tom also holds drumming duties for roots innovators ‘Jon Knight and Soulstack’, and the critically acclaimed “Life Death and the Blues” touring theater production. Tom has toured, performed and recorded with a diverse variety of national and international artists, in many different genres encompassing blues, r&b, pop, and country, with the likes of The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, The Powder Blues, Wilderness of Manitoba, Steve Lukather (Toto), Martha and the Muffins, Sue Foley, Jeff Healey, Colin James, Colin Linden, Duke Robillard, Roxanne Potvin, Jarvis Church and the Good Brothers. Career highlights include; an appearance at the Cape Breton International Drum Festival, presenting a solo drum workshop called “The Seven Beats of Blues and Other Groovy Grooves”, performing with Muddy Water’s drummer, Willie Big Eyes Smith, and re-recording the pop song “Echo Beach” with Martha and the Muffins to celebrate the song’s 30th Anniversary.


The Maple Blues Revue performs “Let The Good Times Roll” at the Dutch Mason Blues Festival in Truro, Nova Scotia.

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The Toronto Blues Society acknowledges the annual support of the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage, and project support from FACTOR< and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada’s Private Broadcasters, The Canada Council for the Arts, the SOCAN Foundation, SOCAN, the Ontario Media Development Corporation, and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.