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.


October 2019 – Toronzo Cannon

Toronzo Cannon is as good a representation of Chicago blues today as you’re likely to find: born and raised in the projects on the south side near Theresa’s Lounge, playing in blues bands behind local players Tommy McCracken, Wayne Baker Brooks, L.V. Banks and Joanna Connor, the singer/guitarist formed his own band in 2003. He sees a Chicago that few people see because he’s CTA bus driver.

October 2019 – Arsen Shomakhov

Arsen Shomakhov’s last album, Dynamic, got him a nomination for New Artist in the Maple Blues Awards. For his new one, this Russian-born Vancouver resident went to one of the hottest studios in blues today, Kid Andersen’s Greaseland in San Jose CA. 

October 2019 – Jennis

The name Jennis combines Jen Gillmor and Dennis Gaumond. Gillmor is a veteran of our Indie scene and Gaumond is a veteran Guelph-based guitarist with several pre-Jennis releases in his discography.

October 2019 – Big Dave McLean

As our first bluesman made a member of the Order of Canada, Big Dave McLean’s new album was highly anticipated. It turns out that it is the first one devoted almost entirely to his own songs. 

October 2019 – Myles Goodwyn

Myles Goodwyn has been busy: celebrating the 50th Anniversary of his band April Wine at the Ex in August, an appearance with his blues band at the Southside Shuffle and now with the release of his second blues album. 

September 2019 – Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley

Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley will be releasing Gold Cadillac on September 20 at Hugh’s Room and the album seems tailor-made for that space.

September 2019 – Ben Racine Band

One of the hottest horn bands we have is this one from Montreal and what a great idea to record them live. They often back Dawn Tyler Watson and indeed, they have just finished a tour with her, but this is just the Ben Racine Band in all its glory.

September 2019 – Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters

The consistently high quality of Ronnie Earl’s albums is a thing of wonder. He has more guest stars this time out and fans of his extended soloing might be disappointed with only one example but in return you get fifteen songs showing a wide variety of styles, eight originals and a wide-ranging choice of covers

September 2019 – Barbara Diab & The Smoked Meat Band

Barbara Diab was born in Australia of Lebanese parents and raised in Leamington, ON, listening to Detroit radio. She now calls Montreal home where she leads the Smoked Meat Band with her husband, bassist Pierre Lamontagne.

September 2019 – Mark Crissinger

Guitarist singer/songwriter Mark Crissinger is an Ontario native who has lived in Nanaimo since 2007. He was in bands here but has concentrated on his solo career since his move.

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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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