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.


April 2020 – Sandra Bouza

Sandra Bouza was our Talent Search winner this past year and the winner of our playoff to head to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge in January where she reached the semi-finals. She released a couple of songs during this time and now we have a full album.

April 2020 – Ken Whiteley

In some ways, Ken Whiteley’s new album is not a surprise in that it contains his usual blend of personal, political and spiritual songs. He also continues to bring along some remarkable guests to help out. He has however come up with some brilliant new songs and he’s singing very well indeed.

April 2020 – Crystal Shawanda

Crystal Shawanda is from the Wikwemikong reserve on Manitoulin Island although she has lived in Nashville for several years now. With husband Dewayne Strobel on guitars & production and Crystal on powerhouse vocals & songwriting, they make for quite a couple and they have outdone themselves on this new one.

March 2020 – Rory Block

After her 6 CD Mentor Series, which focused on the rediscovered blues singers she met personally (all male), Rory Block launched her ‘Power Women of the Blues’ Series with a full disc devoted to Bessie Smith.

March 2020 – Adam Karch

Montreal’s Adam Karch returns with album number five, a most impressive set of originals and selected covers.

March 2020 – Layla Zoe

With her famous ability to improvise lyrics, Layla Zoe would probably prefer to record live albums and this one is her fifth. With that title, this one does indeed look back at most, but not all, of her albums.

March 2020 – David Clayton-Thomas

Say Somethin’ is David Clayton-Thomas’ call to action on a number of social issues. From a failed justice system to gun control to climate change and immigration, we get his bluesiest album in some time.

Sass Jordan – March 2020

Veteran rocker Sass Jordan has won numerous awards and sold over a million albums. She maintains that all her work is influenced by blues and has decided to go all in for her new album, her first for Stony Plain.

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.

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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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