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.


February 2020 – Dwane Dixon

Montreal-based blues rocker Dwane Dixon calls his style ‘rocking roadhouse blues’ in the manner of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Billy Gibbons. The idea for his third album came from a story he heard about his father.

February 2020 – Jimmy & The Sleepers

Jimmy and the Sleepers is a new band for me out of Edmonton and yet it is their third album and it’s been out for almost a year such are the regional difficulties we work with.

February 2020 – Sussex

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Rob Lutes has numerous nominations at the MBAs: several times for Acoustic Act of the year and as male vocalist of the year and as songwriter of the year.

February 2020 – Rott’n Dan and Lightnin’ Willy

Rott’n Dan may be better known to you as the front man/harp player for the excellent blues rock outfit Boogie Patrol, based out of Edmonton. Lightnin’ Willy (Ryan) is not in that band but is a very good singer and acoustic guitarist, with a background in folk as well. 

February 2020 – Fuel Junkie

Fuel Junkie is a young, Montreal-based horn band, none of whose players have featured in this column before.

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.

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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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