About Nominees Tickets Maple Blues Band Performers Press Archive Wiki


The Maple Blues Band has been the 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.



The Maple Blues Band; Photo by Tracey Savein, Southpaw Productions (From left to right: Micheal Fonfara, Pat Carey, Gary Kendall, Chris Whiteley, Tom Bona, Teddy Leonard, Chris Murphy, Al Lerman)


GARY KENDALL: Musical Director/Band Leader/Bassist

Gary Kendall


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 six times and received fourteen 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 and Son Roberts. 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


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


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


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


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 often works as a guest sideman with a myriad of top-notch bands. With FATHEAD, Al has received two Juno Awards, a Canadian Indie Award, a pair of Jazz Report Awards for Blues Group Of The Year as well as two Maple Blues Awards for Electric Act of The Year. He has produced and appeared on numerous internationally acclaimed recordings  including releases by blues legends Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Mel Brown. An accomplished songwriter, he released his first solo album “Crowe River Blues” in January 2012. Al has previously been nominated for Maple Blues awards as “Songwriter”, “Horn player” and  “Harmonica Player Of The Year”.






Pat Carey


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.







Chris Whiteley


Chris Whiteley has been performing, recording and composing blues and roots music for over 30 years. He has received numerous awards, including Maple Blues Awards for Horn Player of The Year, Songwriter of The Year, Blues With A Feeling Award, a Jazz Report Award for Blues Album of The Year, and six Juno Award nominations. He has performed on Saturday Night Live with Leon Redbone and with his brother Ken at the Chicago Blues Festival. He has appeared on over 150 recordings and his compositions have been recorded by Amos Garrret, Fathead, Cindy Church, Penny Lang and Quartette. His successful partnership with Diana Braithwaite has produced to excellent recordings, “Morning Sun” and “Night Birds” on the Electro-fi label.





Tom Bona


Tom Bona (Toronto/Halifax) is a multiple Maple Blues Award Winner, including four time winner for Drummer of the Year. A long time member of the Maple Blues Revue, and Raoul and the Big Time, Tom also holds drumming duties for Jon Knight’s SoulStack. 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, Steve Lukather (Toto), Martha and the Muffins, Sue Foley, Jeff Healey, Colin James, Colin Linden, Duke Robillard, Roxanne Potvin, and the Good Brothers. Career highlights include; an appearance at the Cape Breton International Drum Festival with a solo drum kit educational piece called “The Seven Beats of Blues and Other Groovy Grooves”, performing for 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.

Other recent recordings include releases by Raoul and the Big Time, Treasa Levasseur, Maple Blues Revue, Sue Foley and Soulstack. Tom is also an accomplished songwriter, arranger and producer. Tom Bona plays Pearl Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Regal Tip sticks and Remo Heads exclusively.


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