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Keynote Speaker

Richard Flohil is a semi-retired Toronto-based publicist, occasional manager, writer and concert promoter who has been involved with more than 100 artists’ careers in a 50-year career.

His clients have included Stony Plain Records, Long John Baldry, Ian Tyson, The Good Lovelies, k.d. lang, Shakura S’Aida, the Jerry Cans, the Irish Descendants, Loreena McKennitt, the Downchild Blues Band, Alejandra Ribera and Ani diFranco.

He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including the CIMA “Unsung Hero” Award (2016), a Special Achievement Award from SOCAN (2009), the Keeping the Blues Alive Publicist of the Year Award from the Blues Foundation in Memphis (2010), and the Spirit of Folk Award from the International Folk Alliance (2010).

As a concert promoter, he has been involved, since the ‘60s, with concerts by Muddy Waters, Ry Cooder, Miles Davis, Stephane Grappelli, Benny Goodman, John Prine, k.d. lang, B.B. King, Leon Redbone, Honeyboy Edwards, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and countless others.

He is a former artistic director of the Mariposa Folk Festival, and has worked as an MC or workshop host at the Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg Folk Festivals and the Hillside festival in Guelph, Ontario. Until recently he also presented a dozen shows a year at Hugh’s Room and performances on other stages in Toronto, London, Hamilton and other cities.

Flohil is a former founding editor of The Record, edited The Canadian Composer for 20 years, was the founding editor of The Record, a trade publication that succumbed to the onset of the internet, and also edited Applaud!, a magazine designed to promote Canadian music internationally. He is a former board member of the Toronto Blues Society, and currently on the TBS programming committee. He has also served on two Juno Awards committees.

Needless to say, Flohil knows many people in the music industry, and apparently even more people in the industry know him. He jokingly claims he knows where a lot of bodies are buried, although he never carried a shovel himself. He has nearly 5,000 Facebook “friends” and can create — usually without meaning to — social media shit-storms, though he tries not to.

He’s in the final stages of completing an autobiographical collection of stories, titled “The Night Miles Davis Tried to Buy My Car — and 100 Mostly True Stories of Life at the Edge of Music.”

Now in his ‘80s, he continues to hear live music at least four or five nights a week, and attends folk, blues and fringe festivals each summer — last year he was at six festivals in five weeks. He is also visible at numerous industry events.

Flohil draws inspiration from two powerful blues heroes. It was John Lee Hooker who originally said “It’s too LATE to quit now,” and Muddy Waters who claimed, in song: “I may be old, but I have young-fashioned ways.”

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Richard Flohil will step back from his perch spanning five decades to offer comments on the state of the music industry including anecdotes from his forthcoming book as Blues Summit 9’s Keynote Speaker. He will critically comment on trends in the contemporary music scene from the vantage of having promoted vast range of artists. Keynote brunch will take place on Sunday morning, February 3rd, between 10:30am-12:30pm. 

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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.