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 Pick September 2017 – Daniel Cross

This award-winning documentary has been making its way through the cinemas and is now available on DVD. Daniel Cross, the noted Montreal filmmaker, asked Bobby Rush to take him and his crew on a tour of the current blues scene in rural Louisiana and various parts of Mississippi beginning in 2013 and that might well be the most important part of the documentary as his connections and integrity opened doors.

John’s Blues Pick September 2017 – Julian Fauth

The subtitle, The Hard and the Strong, completes a title that fits in well with the opening press release quote from Mojo magazine that Julian Fauth ‘practically redefines eclectic’. Aside from a couple of originals, Fauth embarks on a journey through Anglo-American folk & blues standards re-imagined as only he can.

John’s Blues Picks September 2017 – Sunday Wilde & Reno Jack

The blues will be alive and well in Atikoken, ON as long as these two stay there. They record there and sometimes they go to Clarksdale MS to record but this time they came here. And it’s a full band album, with Queen Street scene veterans and friends of Reno Jack’s from his days at the Cameron House coming on board.

John’s Blues Picks September 2017 – Best of Jack de Keyzer Volume One

Jack de Keyzer returns to Hugh’s Room Live on September 23rd with this wonderful compilation in hand. Drawn from throughout his storied, twenty-four-year career this immediately becomes a ‘must have’. For this set, he has re-mastered and re-mixed the songs and added one from his side-career as a first call guitarist for Electro-Fi Records plus three previously unreleased tunes.

If you have fond memories of the Saturday afternoon jams at the Black Swan Tavern, you might well want to head over to St. Catharines and its current reincarnation, also under Gary Kendall, now at The Bar Upstairs.

John’s Blues Picks August 2017 – Cash Box Kings

Take four accomplished younger players and add one veteran vocalist – it’s a recipe that worked for Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets featuring Sam Myers and it has been repeated successfully since. The Cash Box Kings was formed in Madison WI in 2001 by harmonica player Jay Nosek. South Side singer Oscar Wilson joined in 2007. There have been eight albums since and this is their first for Alligator.

John’s Blues Picks August 2017 – Martin Goyette

This Montreal-based vocalist/songwriter/ harpist was first runnerup in our Talent Search in 2006 and showcased at the Blues Summit the following year. He released Sweet Warm Jelly in 2013. He continues the food theme with Big Beets. Guitarist Jim Bland opens the program in fine fashion with a reverb-laden solo before the band kicks in on “St. John Morning Blues”.

John’s Blues Picks August 2017 – 12 BeLowZero

For blues bands actually based in Cottage Country instead of just visiting, we have The Mackenzie Blues Band in Owen Sound and Tobin Spring in Huntsville to name two, but there is now also 12BeLowZero, based in & around Port Elgin.

John’s Blues Picks August 2017 – Trickbag

After a rather long hiatus on disc the veteran Hamilton band Trickbag is back (Not to be confused with an American band of the same name). They got their start backing King Biscuit Boy and three of the original members are still going strong: Larry Feudo on guitar & harp, Donna Panchezak on vocals & percussion and Paul Panchezak on drums.

John’s Blues Picks August 2017 – Bad Luck Woman & Her Misfortunes

The Bad Luck Woman is Raha Javanfar, one multi-talented artist, with one foot in the music world and the other in the theatre. She’s of Persian heritage and is classically trained in that tradition. She has a foot in the folk world here too as a fiddler in a western swing band and as the singer, bass player and bandleader here. They specialize in the songs by obscure and sassy ladies of the 40’s, 50’s & 60’s.

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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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