Toronto Blues Society | » THE MAPLE BLUES BAND


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.

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Band Members

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 eight times and received twenty nominations. In 1993 Gary received the prestigious “Blues With A Feeling Award” from The Toronto Blues Society. Thunder Bay, the city where he was born presented him with the “Thunder Blues Award”  along with The Thunder Bay Blues Society’s “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award in 2002.  In 2014 as part of Downchild he received a Juno Award for his work on Can You Hear The Music

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, Powder Blues, Johnny Rawls and Joe Louis Walker, to name only a few. Besides Downchild, he has recorded with Chris Murphy, Little Bobby & The Jumpstarts, Peter Schmidt & Shane Scott, Brian Blain, Maria Aurigema, Ray Edge, Son Roberts, Tobin Spring, The Maple Blues Reveue, Braithwaite & Whiteley, The Mighty Duck Blues Band, Judy Brown and David Vest.

His own 47 Records label has released the solo recordings, Dusty & Pearl and Feels Real Strong along with the reissued Kendall Wall Band recording, The Way We Was. When not with Downchild his insatiable need to play the Blues finds him with Robin Banks, The Swingin’ Blackjacks, The Gary Kendall Band 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 |

Chris Murphy has toured and recorded with Jack de Keyzer, Chicago Pete, Alberta Adams (Detroit’s late Queen of the Blues), Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Della Reese, The Temptations, The Supremes. and Brazilian bluesman Big Gilson. He is currently writing material for his 4th solo recording that will feature a 13 piece horn section. His London Ontario based “Blues in the Schools Program” has performed over 200 shows in elementary schools. Currently, Chris performs in Lance Anderson’s “Tribute to the Last Waltz” and The Maple Blues Band as well as fronting his own blues and Mardi Gras bands.










Al Lerman | Harmonica & Tenor Saxophone |,

Multi-instrumentalist Al Lerman (harmonica, tenor saxophone, guitar and vocals)  is the former 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 | Drums |

Tom Bona (Toronto/Halifax) is a multiple Maple Blues Award Winner, including seven time winner for ‘Drummer of the Year’. A long time member of the ‘Maple Blues Awards House Band’, and ‘Raoul and the Big Time’, Tom also holds drumming duties for roots innovators ‘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 / Philosopher Kings 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 Canadian classic pop song “Echo Beach” with Martha and the Muffins to celebrate the song’s 30th Anniversary.


Howard Moore | Trumpet

Howard Moore is a classically trained musician who studied at York University, University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music. His in-depth and versatile career has been as a trumpet player, keyboard player and vocalist.

Over the past 15 years Howard has toured and recorded with many international reggae stars such as Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Third World, Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown. TV appearances include the NHL Awards, Juno Awards, Genie Awards, Gemini Awards and the 2006/07/08 Canadian Idol series. Movie/TV music supervisory roles include BRAVO’S “The Jazz Man”, Disney’s “In a Heart Beat”, “In My Father’s Shoes” staring Lou Gosset Jr. and “Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang” staring Gary Busey and Ice-T.

Howard Moore has consistently recorded with many of the country’s best artists. He has appeared on over 200 albums, acting as music arranger/producer on many of them. In addition to performing with The Maple Blues Band, Howard’s busy performance schedule  includes Bradley & The Bouncers, Chuck Jackson’s Big Blues Revue, Sophia Perlman & the Vipers, Big Rude Jake, The Gillian Margot Quintet , Pat Carey’s Jazz Navigators, Johnny Rawls and Powder Blues.


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TBS logo and WBR artwork by Barbara Klunder

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.