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.


Mark Hummel – January 2020

Harmonica ace Mark Hummel sets the wayback machine to Chicago in the 1940’s to re-introduce us to the “Bluebird Beat”, the sound that producer Lester Melrose developed that was hugely popular at the time.

Durham County Poets – January 2020

Veterans all, the Durham County Poets hail from the Eastern Townships of Quebec and call themselves a ‘folk and roots’ band. For their fourth album, though, they have chosen to pay homage to the blues. To do that, they have come up with a set of seven originals by the band, separately and together, and several covers

January 2020 – Manitoba Hal

Manitoba Hal (Brolund) is a ukulele player based in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, although he was born and raised in Winnipeg. He has raised his profile recently with a couple of fine albums but if you check his web site you’ll find that he has some fourteen in his discography, so prolific is he as a songwriter.

January 2020 – Kevin Belzner, Big Dave McLean & Tim Williams

In much the same vein as last year’s Big City Back Country Blues with Brandon Isaak and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, Tim Williams has partnered with Big Dave McLean and inventive percussionist Kevin Belzner to bring you another example of the benefits of collaboration, within a mix of original and traditional blues.

January 2020 – Bad Luck Woman & Her Misfortunes

Having captured the sassy sounds of those early female R&B singers from the forties and fifties as shown on their first album, Cursed, Bad Luck Woman & Her Misfortunes have now incorporated that sound into some strikingly good original material plus a few more rarely heard covers.

December 2019 – The Bluesland Horn Band

It was beginning to look like blues horn players were an endangered species but the number of albums with guest horn sections is increasing rapidly and we are now once again seeing actual albums by working horn bands coming to the fore.

December 2019 – Emily Burgess

Emily Burgess rode her first album, Are We In Love?, to the New Artist MBA last year and was busily recording this one at the time of the awards.

December 2019 – Bywater Call

Meghan Parnell and Dave Barnes’ band, Bywater Call, first came to our attention with the 2018 Talent Search. Led by Parnell’s magnificent voice and Barnes’ fluid slide guitar, they won rather handily.

December 2019 – Jackie Washington

November 12 was the one hundredth anniversary of Jackie Washington’s birth. Ken Whiteley, who is largely responsible for the late career success of the Hamilton legend, has assembled an impressive package to celebrate.

December 2019 – Angel Forrest

Now in her 50’s, Angel Forrest has decided to confront her age Hell Bent with Grace. Partner Denis Coulombe is right there with her along with lead guitarist Ricky Paquette as the songwriting trio. 

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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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