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.


John’s Blues Picks February 2018 – Tinsley Ellis

Atlanta-born guitarist Tinsley Ellis begins his third stint on Alligator Records with a blistering bluesrock disc. The hard-touring Ellis debuted album #19 for us at the Cadillac Lounge on Jan. 29, I hope you were there. This was one of the very few touring acts to come through here, if you want more, you should show the clubs that it’s worth their while. Winning Hand has nine originals and one cover and most certainly honours his pledge that this album is all about ‘guitar, guitar, guitar’.

John’s Blues Picks February 2018 – Jay Kipps Band

The Jay Kipps Band hail from Mono, ON with Jay Kipps on vocals, harmonica & guitar; Chad Burford on lead guitar; Cory Bruyea on drums and Chris Lubker, bass. Strawberry Sunset aka Maddie Ball adds background vocals. They claim to bring blues into modern Americana and to that end open with a “Rawhide”-like instrumental “Colt 45”.

John’s Blues Picks February 2018 – Stan Grizzel and Canadian Bluez

Stan Grizzel now resides in Strathroy but has quite a career behind him. According to his website, he’s a descendant of a family that arrived here on the Underground Railroad. He was a child actor for the CBC and the first black child actor in ACTRA to model for the Eaton’s, Sears & Simpson’s catalogues.

John’s Blues Picks February 2018 – Angel Forrest

Our re-elected Female Vocalist Of The Year brought along a new album to the Awards evening. Electric Love is a two-disc set that gives us her current live set with most of that album with her smoking regular band, which includes the amazing Ricky Paquette on lead guitar – you won’t miss those other guitarists.

John’s Blues Picks January 2018 – Wes Mackey

Wes Mackey is a Vancouver bluesman, now 75 years old, with roots that go back to South Carolina. He worked as a sideman in blues bands in the US before ending up in Vancouver, where he eventually re-started his solo career. He has often performed as a one-man band but for some of his recordings he assembled the best Vancouver players.

John’s Blues Picks January 2018 – Shirley Jackson & Her Good Rockin’ Daddys

This is a Halifax horn band: two saxes & trumpet carry the load. MBA winner Shirley Jackson leads on tenor & vocals, Dawn Hatfield on baritone and Dave Harrison on trumpet. There are two guitarists: Tom Crilley & Marc Doucet, with Jef Wirchenko on double bass and Ainslie Jardine on drums. Ms. Jackson wrote most of the songs and did the horn arrangements, showcased most admirably on the opening rousing instrumental “Back Porch Swing” which indeed swings like crazy.

John’s Blues Picks January 2018 – Al Wood & The Woodsmen

Ottawa’s Al Wood is the vocalist, songwriter, harp player and guitarist and The Woodsmen are Lindsay Pugh on lead guitar, Frank Deresti on bass and Simon Meilleur on drums. Together they’ve released four CDs now and made it to the semi-finals at the 2011 IBCs in Memphis. They wanted to do a live off the floor album of new songs and they’ve done very well indeed – nothing mattters more than talent & experience for this task.

John’s Blues Picks January 2018 – Vincent Beaulne

Vincent Beaulne is the lead singer and guitarist for the Montreal group Blues Delight. So that’s one way to interpret the CD title. We can also look at it as making a statement through his songs. They are highly original, personal compositions performed with just his various guitars but on many he’s added some very attractive instrumentation.

John’s Blues Picks January 2018 – Billy Joe Green

Billy Joe Green, Osawi Kinew (Brown Eagle) of the Mahkwa Dotem (Bear Clan) is from the Anishnaabe Aki-ing Territory. His escape from residential school was through his guitar. The Winnipeg nightclub scene was hot and Billy Joe soaked it all up, playing every kind of music imaginable.

John’s Blues Picks January 2018 – Crystal Shawanda

After the hard rocking Fish Out Of Water last year, Crystal Shawanda returns to the blues with Voodoo Woman. She’s Ojibwe and this time out she’s paying tribute to the blues women she grew up listening to on the Wikwemikong reserve on Manitoulin Island, in sparkling new arrangements.

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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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