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.

December 2018 – Brandon Isaak

The former Twisters front man has sent along his new, third, solo CD with a cover that reflects its ‘themes of life, love, acceptance, spiritualism and the sixth sense’. You might think that these themes would lead Isaak away from the blues but you would be wrong, he has come up with some very fine originals that are firmly in the tradition.

November 2018 – Eric Bibb

The title of Eric Bibb’s new disc works on several levels. A longtime resident of Sweden, Bibb was born in the USA, the son of music legend Leon Bibb and has spent a long time soaking up the music of West Africa, revisiting his heritage. After five decades of recording and performing internationally, we can easily call him a ‘global griot’ – a keeper of an oral history and revered storyteller.

November 2018 – Murray Kinsley & Wicked Grin

This band is based in Ottawa when they are not touring and they are seldom there. They’ve won a New Artist MBA and bassist Leigh-Anne Stanton won that MBA a couple of years ago. Murray Kinsley is the lead vocalist/guitarist/songwriter, Rod Williams plays harp and Bruce Saunders on drums & percussion. The hard-rocking blues quartet added Jesse O’Brien on keys plus Darcy Heppner & Sonny Del Rio on saxes for this outing as well. With renowned producer Nick Blagona on board, this is a major leap forward from three already good albums.

November 2018 – Jack Semple

Guitarist/singer/songwriter Jack Semple mostly stays out west, he lives in Regina, which may be one reason he’s not so well known in these parts. He has released some ten albums and has won awards for his television and movie soundtrack work. As he says on his web site, he ‘plays modern blues without forgetting where he came from’. It’s not a bad description of this album either.

November 2018 – Anthony Gomes

With this release Anthony Gomes wants to bill himself as a 21st Century guitar hero although, with a master’s degree from U of T, he knows the blues is much more than that. He showcased his deep knowledge of the blues on his Electric Field Holler in 2015. For album #13, he has written some very fine songs indeed. As you might tell from the album title, this is a blues rock extravaganza.

November 2018 – Kat Danser

Edmonton’s Kat Danser is now Dr. Kat Danser with her PhD in Ethnomusicology, taking her study of blues music to its highest level – she has spent more time in Mississippi than she has at home. She is also a tireless performer, now releasing her fifth album, produced by Juno-award winning Steve Dawson.

November 2018 – David Gogo

Multiple MBA and JUNO Award winner David Gogo wanted to stretch the boundaries a little for album #15. He wanted to cover both his electric side & his acoustic side and he wanted to show that he listens to quite a lot of different music. I think you’ll find though that the blues is not far away.

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.

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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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