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.


November 2019 – Sue Decker

Sue Decker is a singer/songwriter/guitarist from Victoria. She specializes in lap steel slide guitars and her set list goes from blues to folk to outlaw country.

November 2019 – Guy Belanger

Guy Bélanger continues his journey to take the humble harmonica to new places, to Eldorado, and he takes a superb band with him: Rob McDonald on lead guitars, Marc-André Drouin on bass and Michel Dufour on drums.

November 2019 – Son Roberts

The premise of the Cobalt Prize is to reward songs that ‘creatively utilize blues traditions within the broad contemporary musical landscape’. Son Roberts has taken this to heart for his third album. He certainly has stretched the boundaries with his song structures and his subject matter is very much in the here and now: he’s very concerned about some of the things he sees around him here in Toronto.

November 2019 – Wide Mouth Mason

Wide Mouth Mason impressed a lot of people in the mid 90’s when this young trio from Saskatoon emerged. I remember a packed house at the Horseshoe Tavern for their CD launch, a self-titled release on Warner Music. They soon left the blues part of their blues rock behind for six more albums, earning several JUNO nominations along the way. They are back now as a duo and diving deep into the blues.

November 2019 – Mel Brown & The Homewreckers

It’s been ten years since the passing of Mel Brown in Kitchener. The legendary guitarist found a home here after a lengthy career as a solo artist for the Impulse label and a mainstay in the band of Bobby Blue Bland, an in-demand session guitarist and the leader of the house band at Clifford Antone’s famous club in Austin TX. He also found a home with Electro-Fi Records, where the guitarist made a late career move as a vocalist with a warm, expressive baritone voice.

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. 

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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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