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.


September 2019 – Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley

Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley will be releasing Gold Cadillac on September 20 at Hugh’s Room and the album seems tailor-made for that space.

September 2019 – Ben Racine Band

One of the hottest horn bands we have is this one from Montreal and what a great idea to record them live. They often back Dawn Tyler Watson and indeed, they have just finished a tour with her, but this is just the Ben Racine Band in all its glory.

September 2019 – Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters

The consistently high quality of Ronnie Earl’s albums is a thing of wonder. He has more guest stars this time out and fans of his extended soloing might be disappointed with only one example but in return you get fifteen songs showing a wide variety of styles, eight originals and a wide-ranging choice of covers

September 2019 – Barbara Diab & The Smoked Meat Band

Barbara Diab was born in Australia of Lebanese parents and raised in Leamington, ON, listening to Detroit radio. She now calls Montreal home where she leads the Smoked Meat Band with her husband, bassist Pierre Lamontagne.

September 2019 – Mark Crissinger

Guitarist singer/songwriter Mark Crissinger is an Ontario native who has lived in Nanaimo since 2007. He was in bands here but has concentrated on his solo career since his move.

August 2019 – Matchedash Parish

Lance Anderson is a major player on our music scene, he’s the keyboard genius who leads the popular all-star ensembles devoted to the music of The Band, Levon Helm, Joe Cocker, Stax and several more. With fellow keyboard wiz Matt Weidinger, he has now embarked on a most ambitious project: a twelve-strong revue emphasizing original material. 

August 2019 – Whitey Somers

Whitey Somers is also a veteran bluesman and if his last name seems familiar, it might be because he is the nephew of the late classical composer Harry Somers. A 40-year man, he’s been in Nanaimo since 2013, having moved there from Collingwood and Hamilton.

August 2019 – James Anthony

James Anthony (Pecchia) is a veteran Burlington player who is one of the busiest bluesmen around, just check out his web site. He’s played reggae with Jay Douglas, was a member of Edward Bear and of Mondo Combo.

August 2019 – Billy Branch

There have been tributes for several of the great harmonica players of the past recently but not one yet on a major blues label for Little Walter. No doubt his ground-breaking work is still so powerful, no one wanted to risk the comparison such a tribute would inevitably cause. Billy Branch has decided it was time.

July 2019 – Steve Strongman

Steve Strongman’s last three albums were all nominated for the Blues JUNO and A Natural Fact won it. At the International Blues Challenge this past January, Steve placed first in the Solo/Duo category. Tired of Talkin’ will most certainly keep this trend going

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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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