Toronto Blues Society | » John’s Blues Picks

John’s Blues Picks is the monthly album review column originally launched by the late Toronto-based blues historian and broadcaster, John Valenteyn. Submission can be sent to the TBS office for consideration and will be circulated to a pool of journalists and others for review in the monthly Maple Blues newsletter and placed at the Spotify playlist.

September 2021 – Colin Linden

Long based in Nashville, Colin Linden is recognised as a true renaissance man of roots music and the blues. As well as his solo recording career, he is a member of Canadian roots supergroup Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (alongside Tom Wilson and Stephen Fearing) and an in-demand guitarist, producer, and music director for other artists.

September 2021 – Sue Foley

Prolific blues guitarist and singer/songwriter Sue Foley has at times been undervalued over the course of a career now spanning over 30 years and 15 albums. It was gratifying, then, to observe her 2018 album The Ice Queen fare so well. Arguably her strongest yet, it earned a Juno nomination, and helped her win another Maple Blues Award as Best Guitar Player and take home the coveted Best Traditional Female (Koko Taylor Award)” at the 2020 Blues Music Awards in Memphis.

September 2021 – David Gogo

Acoustic-blues veteran David Gogo used the pandemic as an opportunity to rediscover his musical roots. The result is Silver Cup, his sixteenth album, in which the Vancouver Island resident — three-time winner of the Maple Blues Guitarist of the Year Award — displays his impressive talent as a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter (he wrote or co-wrote all but one song on this recording). The CD was produced by Steve Marriner, who also plays a dizzying array of instruments here, including guitar, piano, drums and harmonica. In fact, one outstanding feature of this album is the interplay of instrumental excellence between Gogo and Marriner.

September 2021 – David Vest

It makes sense that if David Vest decided to release two live recordings at the same time one of them would be recorded at his home base in Victoria B.C.  Hermann’s Jazz Club has been part of the Canadian live music landscape since 1981.  David Vest and his band have been performing there regularly since 2012.   The room has the right piano and the right vibe.

September 2021 – Mark Hummel

Harp master, singer and band leader Mark Hummel presents historic recordings, on his latest release, that capture the spirit of, and are a welcome addition to, the annals of 70’s and 80’s East Bay Blues. Rest assured that this isn’t a nostalgic trip down memory lane but rather a documentation of 22 rare and valued recordings by a number of Hummel’s heroes, influencers, and former band mates.

September 2021 – Party For Joey

Don’t be blinded by the outstanding collection of star power appearing on this timely release. Focus in on the subject matter – a celebration of all things Joey Spampinato. It’s a demonstration of appreciation and respect for this underrated talent to help NRBQ bassist, singer/songwriter and co-founder raise much-needed funds for his ongoing battle with throat cancer. It’s also a celebration of Spampinato’s overriding joie de vivre, his songwriting gifts, the rhythmic swing of his approach to his instrument and his spirited vocals. You’ll find each of these Spampinato-penned songs in NRBQ’s vast back catalogue and, if nothing else, may these fresh renderings of this material lead you back to the source for added musical inspiration and a better understanding of why these artists have come forward to pay heartfelt tribute. If you attend any party, you need to know who it’s for.

September 2021 – Wylie Harold

I didn’t really know Wylie Harold until I heard this recent release. Turns out, he’s a blues institution in and around the Peterborough area and has been for years. And, for a guy who lives for the local bar scene, clubs, patios and the people he plays to, the pandemic has been brutal. Playing in various bands along the way (Half Ton, The Bottoms Up Blues Band), Harold did his due diligence in rock’n’roll yet was eventually courted by the blues, which lent itself to playing solo as often as possible.

August 2021 – The Brothers

When Jaimoe, a founding member and drummer of the Allman Brothers made a call to members of the group alumni suggesting they reconvene for a concert celebrating 50 years of the brotherhood, he was met with the kind of positive responses he had hoped for.

August 2021 – Tommy Castro

So you want to be a bluesman? Or woman (to bring us into the 21st century)? Take a listen to Tommy Castro’s latest album, “A Bluesman Came to Town, a blues odyssey.” It’s an invitation and a warning of the joys, fringe benefits and bumps in the road, all wrapped up in vivid storytelling.

August 2021 – Steve Hill

After almost a decade (and 5 recordings) as a one man band, Steve Hill has come out with a brand new album (and a new direction) creating the next logical step in his progression as a player, singer and songwriter.



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