Toronto Blues Society | » John’s Blues Picks

John’s Blues Picks is the monthly album review column by Toronto-based blues columnist, John Valenteyn. John Valenteyn is co-founder of the Toronto Blues Society, radio host on CIUT.FM and the Toronto Blues Society’s resident album reviewer. John’s Blues Picks (JBP) are collected monthly in the Toronto Blues Society’s monthly print newsletter, Maple Blues.

March 2018 – Sue Foley

‘The Ice Queen’ certainly does not refer to Sue Foley’s relationship with her friends in Texas, particularly the ones she made during her lengthy sojourn at Clifford Antone’s famous club. She went back to record her first solo album in some time and the result proves how smart a move that was, even if she has moved to broaden her musical palette from straight ahead blues.

March 2018 – Jack de Keyzer

Hard on the heels of a “best of” collection, Jack pays homage to the masters and Checkmate is one stomping, roaring collection. Otis Rush is represented by three songs; Howlin’ Wolf, three; Elmore James, two and Robert Johnson, two. We also get some early BB, Blind Willie McTell and Aretha Franklin. While they stick fairly close to the originals, Jack and the band don’t try to imitate any of the masters, they perform these songs as the Jack de Keyzer Band.

March 2018 – Suzie Vinnick

Shake The Love Around’ was the end of a mealtime blessing in rural Saskatchewan where Suzie Vinnick grew up – everyone around the table shook hands before digging in. She said she wanted use that analogy to do an album of happy songs as an antidote to the darkness in the world. The sense of community is also evident in the songs here, as many of them are collaborations, a method of songwriting that is yielding very good results.

March 2018 – Khari Wendell McClelland

Vancouver’s Khari Wendell McClelland was here last February at the Streetcar Crowsnest Theatre for a ten-day run of the ‘documentary theatre musical’ that the songs on this album were written for. He ‘collected and interptreted songs that likely accompanied his great-great-great grandmother Kizzy as she fled US slavery into Canada’.

John’s Blues Picks February 2018 – Curtis Salgado & Alan Hager

Soul bluesman/harmonica player Curtis Salgado and his lead guitarist Alan Hager decided to record an acoustic album and a fine decision it was. They’ve worked up a program of originals and newly arranged covers that’s a delight to hear. Salgado has had rather more health problems than any man should endure but he’s back, a fact celebrated in the opening “I Will Not Surrender”. Hager, who is a graduate of the Berklee School and of the New England Conservatory, brings a unique sophistication to the music.

John’s Blues Picks February 2018 – Tinsley Ellis

Atlanta-born guitarist Tinsley Ellis begins his third stint on Alligator Records with a blistering bluesrock disc. The hard-touring Ellis debuted album #19 for us at the Cadillac Lounge on Jan. 29, I hope you were there. This was one of the very few touring acts to come through here, if you want more, you should show the clubs that it’s worth their while. Winning Hand has nine originals and one cover and most certainly honours his pledge that this album is all about ‘guitar, guitar, guitar’.

John’s Blues Picks February 2018 – Jay Kipps Band

The Jay Kipps Band hail from Mono, ON with Jay Kipps on vocals, harmonica & guitar; Chad Burford on lead guitar; Cory Bruyea on drums and Chris Lubker, bass. Strawberry Sunset aka Maddie Ball adds background vocals. They claim to bring blues into modern Americana and to that end open with a “Rawhide”-like instrumental “Colt 45”.

John’s Blues Picks February 2018 – Stan Grizzel and Canadian Bluez

Stan Grizzel now resides in Strathroy but has quite a career behind him. According to his website, he’s a descendant of a family that arrived here on the Underground Railroad. He was a child actor for the CBC and the first black child actor in ACTRA to model for the Eaton’s, Sears & Simpson’s catalogues.

John’s Blues Picks February 2018 – Angel Forrest

Our re-elected Female Vocalist Of The Year brought along a new album to the Awards evening. Electric Love is a two-disc set that gives us her current live set with most of that album with her smoking regular band, which includes the amazing Ricky Paquette on lead guitar – you won’t miss those other guitarists.

John’s Blues Picks January 2018 – Wes Mackey

Wes Mackey is a Vancouver bluesman, now 75 years old, with roots that go back to South Carolina. He worked as a sideman in blues bands in the US before ending up in Vancouver, where he eventually re-started his solo career. He has often performed as a one-man band but for some of his recordings he assembled the best Vancouver players.

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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.

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