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.

December 2022 – Jake Chisholm

Jake Chisholm  Hands Held High Electro-Fi

I’m not sure which is the bigger surprise – the fact that this Jake Chisholm is the same front man from Jake & The Blue Midnights or that this release is one of the latest from deeply-respected blues label, Electro-Fi Records. Impresario Andrew Galloway’s label has long specialized in traditional, post-war blues but – as the t-shirt reads: “with a foot in the future.” Hence, Galloway’s own vast musical interests are coming to the surface as he adds newfound success stories like Harrison Kennedy and Blackburn to his esteemed catalogue. In other words, Chisholm’s progressive release is a good fit. Likewise, Chisholm has undergone a personal renaissance, moving from horn-fueled swing crooner to bona fide soul-rocker on a mission.

Layla Zoe – The World Could Change 

Layla Zoe’s fourteenth album, The World Could Change, is one of contrasts, showcasing her sweeping range in both vocal expression and lyrical themes. Born in Victoria, the Canadian artist has won and been nominated for a slew of awards in North America and Europe, including Best Vocalist at the 2016 European Blues Awards.

October 2022 – Miss Emily

In a world where mass media tend to generalize everything, it is easy for an individual to be defined by one facet of their life. In many cases, they can be associated to something they would never want to be defined by, like their career choice, their appearance or an action they most regret.

October 2022 – Spencer Mackenzie 

“Preach to My Soul”, Spencer Mackenzie’s third album, marks a giant step in the still young (22) musician’s career.  Coming four years after his much praised “Cold November” album (released when he was just 18 years old) Spencer’s songwriting, vocals and guitar playing all display continued growth and maturity – which has led to the creation of an album that can stand with the best of contemporary blues releases.


October 2022 – Suzie Vinnick

In the world of music, Suzie Vinnick is among the best.  The gifted songwriter, guitarist, bassist and vocalist is at the top of her game and her new release, Fall Back Home, further cements her place on the Canadian music landscape.


October 2022 – Crystal Shawanda

When Crystal Shawanda sings, the world stops. There is only her in the room, her vocal presence powerful and intoxicating.

October 2022 – Steve Hill

Steve Hill, the acclaimed singer-songwriter, celebrates his 25th year as a recording artist with the release of his new album Dear Illusion, set for worldwide release via No Label Records on Friday November 11, 2022.

September 2022 – Suzie Vinnick

SUZIE VINNICK  Fall Back Home 

September 2022 – Bywater Call

Bywater Call   Remain  Gypsy Soul

September 2022 – Charlie Musselwhite

Charlie Musselwhite  Mississippi Son 

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