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.


September 2018 – Terry Blersh

Terry Blersh handles accounting for many in the music community here. He is also a much sought after guitarist on the club scene. For the second time now and ten years later, he has decided to release some original songs he’s recorded with a most amazing guest list of players to help out.

September 2018 – Carolyn Fe

The album title is in Tagalog, Carolyn Fe Trinidad’s native tongue in the Philippines, it translates as ‘My Wound’, the current interest in one’s roots encouraging her to recognize hers. The album, though, is in her style of blues and sung in English.

September 2018 – Ray Bonneville

Longtime Austin, Texas resident Ray Bonneville was born & raised in Quebec, was a bush pilot in the North and worked as a sideman for years before heading out on a solo career. At King Electric is his ninth album since then, his Gust of Wind winning the Blues JUNO in 1999. King Electric is a studio in Austin and Stonefly is a new label for Ray, many of his earlier albums being on Red House but still available.

September 2018 – catl

catl has been called alt blues or punk blues and we do get the unison vocals by catl and Sarah K, on guitar and drums respectively and we do get mostly uptempo songs with the boundless energy and the in-your-face attitude we associate with this duo.

September 2018 – Colin James

After recording the highly regarded Blue Highways, Colin James continued his renewed interest in blues to the point of going back to his first guitar, a Gibson ES-335, the original of which he had to sell for rent money. According to the press release, playing this guitar, the guitar of choice for many blues players, led to the song selection here. And a very interesting set list it is, including two originals.

August 2018 – Denis Parker

Denis Parker was inducted into the Newfoundland Labrador Music Hall of Fame last year to celebrate his 50 years of performing, writing and teaching. It also includes his almost twenty years as Executive Director of its Music Industry Assocation. He is originally from England where he came up with the Panama Limited Jug Band, whose two albums have recently been re-issued on Cherry Red Records.

August 2018 – Tri-Continental

It has been some years since a recording by these three players together. Bill Bourne, Lester Quitzau and Madagascar Slim (Randriamananjara Radofa Besata) each have separate careers loosely characterized as folk, blues and world music respectively, although each would probably be upset at being so labelled. Slim for one spent many years here in blues bands.

August 2018 – Manitoba Hal

Manitoba Hal (Brolund) plays his blues on the ukelele; playing several different models through FX pedals and using ‘looping’, he can easily overcome any limitations that instrument might have. He has some 17 albums in his discography, many of them solo, one-man-band efforts but this time he went to Calgary to work with the legendary Tim Williams as producer and accompanist.

August 2018 – Elliott & The Audio Kings

Mike Elliott hails from Waterloo, where for several years he fronted a band called Daddy Long Legs that won an MBA for New Artist. He has now retired that band and this is the second album for the new one. The Audio Kings are Jonny Sauder on drums and Scott Fitzpatrick on doghouse bass and they describe this album as ’12 tracks of grit, swagger and fun’.

August 2018 – Shemekia Copeland

The birth of her son, Johnny Lee Copeland, led Shemekia Copeland to take a fresh look at the world he would grow up in. Never one to shy away from telling it like it is, she has assembled a hugely talented, genre-crossing guest list led by Americana producer/instrumentalist Will Kimbrough, who plays guitar throughout.

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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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