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June 2021 – Loose Blues News

Published June 4, 2021 in Loose Blues News, News

Festival Update: It’s the June issue and this is the time we’d be talking up all the great summer blues festivals but aside from a couple of events in Quebec (still tentative) there  are no festivals to talk about and instead we mourn the passing of festival founder Tim Sinnett, whose Canal Bank Shuffle was usually the last on the blues festival calendar and always provided a fitting end to the season.  In Thorold, they called him the “Godfather of the Blues”. He was Artistic Director of the Canal Bank Shuffle, which for the past 18 years has filled Thorold’s halls, restaurants and pubs with North America’s best blues musicians and fans. In the past several years, the Shuffle has averaged more than 30 shows each year, featuring the most internationally renowned blues artists, all of whom were on a first-name basis with Sinnett. Launched by Sinnett and his friend John Davis in 2002, the annual volunteer-run event grew into a four-day music festival that has brought thousands of music-lovers to Thorold venues, and raised more than $200,000 for charities through the years. Joined by fellow volunteers Rudy Walter—who passed away last year—as well as John O’Brien, Dave Rotz, and Bob Liddycoat, the inaugural festival featured 12 Canadian bands during the course of three days. To cover the cost of bands that first year, the team sold Crispy Crème donuts from May to October, never dreaming the event would be so successful, or gradually grow into one of Ontario’s premier blues festivals. Known to locals as “The Shuffle,” the festival earned a reputation for showcasing every genre of blues imaginable performed by many of the best-known and award-winning artists in the blues world. Sinnett, the long-time owner of Trillium Industrial Safety Supply, leaves behind his devoted wife, Lynn, their three daughters and their families.

More passings: The blues world continues to lose a lot of its bright stars and it would take an entire newsletter to acknowledge all the greats that left us this month.  Bob Koester, founder of Delmark Records passed away at age 88. His record store was a must-see for any blues aficionado who made the pilgrimage to Chicago (including a large contingent from Toronto). His label captured the sound of Chicago’s vibrant blues scene of the 1960s on records like “Hoodoo Man Blues,” with Junior Wells and Buddy Guy, that was recorded in 1965. And we lost an artist with a special connection to Toronto – harp hero James Harman who just passed away last month – a pioneer and mentor to many of your favourite blues harp players. He recorded two albums for the local Electro-Fi label, Bonetime and Fineprint and speaking of Electro-Fi, an Electro-Fi recording of Mel Brown has been nominated for a 2021 Living Blues Award as Best Blues Album of 2020 Reissue Recordings. Voting is open until June 15 at www.surveymonkey.com/r/LBAwards2021.  And speaking further of Electro-fi, bossman Andrew Galloway is now one of the rotating hosts on CIUT’s new blues show, Calling All Blues, every Monday from 7-8pm. Check it out!

Changes at Peter’s Players: Peter and Michelle Swanek have announced that they sold the venue but are quick to add that Peter’s Players lives on. Peter’s Players started in 2000 on Swanek’s back porch in Innisfil, then hosting concerts in his living room until in 2006 he bought the theatre in Gravenhurst. In 2019 he hosted the first Peter’s Players Jamaica and plans to continue the Jamaica event and intends to produce many more blues shows in the future. Blues lovers in cottage country will be glad to hear that!

Indigenous Update:  The TBS-produced 25th Anniversary Rez Blues livestream has resulted in a nomination for Live Musical Performance of the Year: for Joshua Arden Miller in the inaugural Summer Solstice Indigenous Music Awards. Miller was also nominated for ” Rising Star”. Some of the other blues-friendly nominees were Blue Moon Marquee  (Metis Artist/Group of the Year), Murray Porter (Recording Artist of the Year, Roots Album of the Year, Social Voice) and Julian Taylor (Recording Artist of the Year). Winners will be announced on Saturday, June 12 at 7:00 pm on a livestream from summersolsticefestivals.ca/music-awards/

A couple of Indigenous Blues Artists were also nominated for upcoming JUNO Awards, Crystal Shawanda for Blues Album of the Year and Crystal Shawanda and Julian Taylor for Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year. Julian is also nominated for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year.

TBS and the entire country is devastated for the 215 children whose little bodies were found in a mass unmarked grave at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. If you need to speak about the pain and trauma you may be feeling, you can phone the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866 925-4419. 

The image shown here is called “We Stand Together in Remembrance of Our Children – 215” by Indigenous artist Lou-ann Neel who is trying to raise awareness of the abuse endured by First Nations children in the residential schools of Canada.  Used with the permission of the Artist (c).

Western Blues News: The 2021 Western Canadian Music Awards Artistic Nominees have been announced and nominees for Blues Artist of the Year are Blue Moon Marquee, Debra Power, Kat Danser, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne and Terminal Station. Michael Kaeshammer also received a nom in the jazz category.

More Award Info: Tickets are on sale now for the (virtual) 42nd Blues Music Awards by The Blues Foundation which will take place on Sunday, June 6th at 5pm EDT. Tickets are between $20-$50 and can be purchased at www.blues.org (or you can watch the JUNO Awards on TV – though the Blues and 36 other non-televised categrories will be announced in a livestream on Friday, June 4 at 8pm at junoawards.ca

And lastly, musicians take note that there’s one month left to submit your recording to the Canadian Folk Music Awards (blues is folk music, after all). folkawards.ca

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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.