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.

John’s Blues Pick October 2017 – Jason Buie

Jason Buie hails from Vancouver Island where he’s said to be one of its finest guitar players. He certainly plays very well here and puts that talent to very good use on some fine rocking blues originals on this, his third CD. Keyboard ace Dave Webb provides the other lead instrument with George Fenn on bass and John Hunter on drums.

John’s Blues Pick October 2017 – Morgan Davis

Our master of the less-is-more school of blues is back with a new collection. As you might be able to tell from the cover and the title, Morgan Davis’ latest reflects the life of a travelling bluesman. The title song opens, with Morgan singing of the motels he searches for on the road, it’s family-run operations that make him feel comfortable. It’s just him on guitar, the way he travels most often these days and it sounds like his cigar-box guitar at that.

John’s Blues Pick October 2017 – Rob Lutes

Veteran Montreal singer/songwriter Rob Lutes treats us to another fine collection of new ones. As it says in the press release, he is ‘situated at the intersection of blues, folk, Americana & contemporary singer/songwriter genres’. It’s a place he shares with people like Ray Bonneville & Thom Swift, both of whom use his songs.

John’s Blues Pick October 2017 – Downchild

That Downchild is still with us and sounding so good is one of the wonders of our world. From those early days at Grossman’s to their concert hall & festival appearances today, the quality of those eighteen albums over fifty years is truly remarkable. A band that was (in)famous for lineup changes has now had the same one for some twenty years.

John’s Blues Pick October 2017 – Jimmy Zee

It’s been a while between albums for showman/entrepreneur Jimmy Zee. He has assembled a fine cast for his new songs, but, as usual, the gravelly-voiced Jimmy Zee is what you get and what you want. He delivers a hard-driving blues-rock set. The title song is a fine opener, imploring you to be yourself. Annabelle Chvostek is on background vocals on this one but Nadine States adds her wonderfully effective background vocals to almost every other song.

John’s Blues Pick September 2017 – Daniel Cross

This award-winning documentary has been making its way through the cinemas and is now available on DVD. Daniel Cross, the noted Montreal filmmaker, asked Bobby Rush to take him and his crew on a tour of the current blues scene in rural Louisiana and various parts of Mississippi beginning in 2013 and that might well be the most important part of the documentary as his connections and integrity opened doors.

John’s Blues Pick September 2017 – Julian Fauth

The subtitle, The Hard and the Strong, completes a title that fits in well with the opening press release quote from Mojo magazine that Julian Fauth ‘practically redefines eclectic’. Aside from a couple of originals, Fauth embarks on a journey through Anglo-American folk & blues standards re-imagined as only he can.

John’s Blues Picks September 2017 – Sunday Wilde & Reno Jack

The blues will be alive and well in Atikoken, ON as long as these two stay there. They record there and sometimes they go to Clarksdale MS to record but this time they came here. And it’s a full band album, with Queen Street scene veterans and friends of Reno Jack’s from his days at the Cameron House coming on board.

John’s Blues Picks September 2017 – Best of Jack de Keyzer Volume One

Jack de Keyzer returns to Hugh’s Room Live on September 23rd with this wonderful compilation in hand. Drawn from throughout his storied, twenty-four-year career this immediately becomes a ‘must have’. For this set, he has re-mastered and re-mixed the songs and added one from his side-career as a first call guitarist for Electro-Fi Records plus three previously unreleased tunes.

If you have fond memories of the Saturday afternoon jams at the Black Swan Tavern, you might well want to head over to St. Catharines and its current reincarnation, also under Gary Kendall, now at The Bar Upstairs.

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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.