Toronto Blues Society | » Loose Blues News

Loose Blues News

Published March 1, 1997 in Loose Blues News, News

March 1997

The Silver Dollar Room presents legendary guitarist Duke Robillard on Sunday, March 9 for a special dinner and show package. Cost for both is $20, $12 for show only. Robillard has recorded with greats like Kim Wilson, Johnny Adams and Jerry Portnoy and produced John Hammond and Jimmy Witherspoon. His new Stony Plain album with Jay McShann will be available any time now. For further information, call the new Silver Dollar Hotline at (416) 975-0909

Blues at the Big Bop (Again): Yvonne Matsell, longtime booker for the late, lamented Ultrasound Show Bar and also for the briefly open Fiction club on Yonge Street is now booking the upstairs room at the Big Bop at Bathurst & Queen. It has its own entrance from the dancers on the main floor (sort of reminds one of Albert’s Hall, doesn’t it?) and will feature Kelly Joe Phelps and Dave Alvin on Monday, March 3.

Blues Radio RIP: The “Where It’s On” radio box is going to be a little smaller with the demise of two blues shows on Q107. The station has cancelled John Small‘s Blues North and Blues 107 with John Dickie and Grant Fullerton (12 years old this year). Both shows report that there has been a lot of support and they are “lookin’ for a home”. Here’s hoping some station will seize the opportunity. Sunday nights will never be the same. Meanwhile, we are adding a show in Waterloo hosted for the last 4 years TBS member Kevin Doyle. It’s on CKMS,100.3-FM every Saturday night from 6-7 pm.

Downchild Blues Band heads for the sun: Downchild band members will be joining Mr. Downchild, Donnie Walsh in Florida for an extended tour of beach bars from Feb 27 to March 18. The tour includes Miami, Fort Myers, Sarasota and many other glamourous locales. They’ll be back in Toronto in early April to promote the new CD, to be called Lucky 13. Watch for them.

Juno Activities: On the eve of the Juno Awards, Saturday March 8th, Hamilton’s Trailblazers will be hosting an evening of Canadian blues community camaraderie at Monaco’s (George St. near Queen) in Hess Village, Hamilton. A late-night jam is planned to follow and the party could enter the wee hours… Admission is free. Call 905-521-3040 for more information.

After the Awards show on March 9th, the don’t-miss-it-event is Jammers From The Junos II, featuring Prakash John and The Lincolns. This year, Doug Riley (aka. Dr. Music) is spotlighted on Hammond B-3. This celebrity jam and schmooze-fest will fill the entire second floor of the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel, with live music in both Connections Night Club and the Grand Ballroom. Tickets are only $20., and are available at several Hamilton locations, or by contacting Creedo Music at 905-545-3300.

Summer at Harbourfront: July is going to be goldmine of blues and roots music with Harbourfront’s Soul & Blues festival July 18 to 20. Canada’s largest blues festival paints the waterfront many shades of blue for its 12th outstanding year. Legendary and rising stars will play the main stage, the acoustic stage, workshops and the late-night “BluesCan.” Films, food and memorabilia will enhance blues-heads’ love affair with the blues.

Just ahead of S&B are two weekends of interest as well: July 4 to 6 brings Heineken Urban Village, featuring world music, dance, food, fashion, technology, the visual arts and much more and July 11 to 13 brings CELAFI ’97 (“Celebrating African Identity”) Canadian Artist’s Network: Black Artists in Action (CAN:BAIA) partners with Harbourfront Centre once again to present this celebration of African aesthetics and cultural identity, sporting the timely theme “Entering the Millennium.”

A summer full of concert delights and rich musical experiences from around the world: that’s what audiences have come to expect of Harbourfront Centre’s Summer Music season. And the 1997 season promises once again to deliver the world!

Johnny V will be receiving the “Canadian Breakout Artist of the Year” award from the 1997 Motor City Music Awards. These awards are presented during Bluesfest International (held in Windsor, Ontario and the sister site in Novi, Michigan) on the week-end of July 18 -20. He will be performing there that week-end and will also have a backstage VIP barbeque gig that will be attended by Father Guido Sarducci, Herb Grey (the Solicitor General), and the Mayor of Windsor.

Tone-Cool Records is proud to announce the signing of.Rod Piazza and The Mighty Flyers, nominated for three 1997 WC Handy Awards: Blues Band of the Year, Blues Instrumentalist – Harmonica – Rod Piazza; Blues Instrumentalist – Keyboards – Miss Honey Alexander Piazza The Mighty Flyers are: Rod Piazza – Vocals and Harmonica, Honey Piazza – Piano, Rick LA Holmes Holmstrom – Guitar, Bill Stuve – Bass, Steve Mugalian – Drums.

Davis on Stage: Acoustic blues songwriter/performer Guy Davis (Red House Records) will star in the Phoenix Theatre production of Robert Johnson: Trick the Devil in Indianapolis, Indiana. The show opens on February 27th and runs Thursdays through Sundays until March 16th. The show is a fictional account of the last day of Robert Johnson’s life on earth. Guy Davis goes on to perform later in March in Ann Arbor, Michigan, then in the Southeast, performing concerts in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Atlanta.


The 1997 Blues-L convention is slated to be held on July 25th-27th in the beautiful Pocono Mountains of Blakeslee, PA. Activities for Blues-L attendees will be scheduled in and around the 1997 Poconos Blues Festival. So far, plans are in the works for a BBQ and jam, meetings and get-togethers, picnics at the festival, etc. For more info: Blues-L (bit.listserv.blues-l) is a very popular international blues usenet discussion group on the internet. It can be accessed via usenet newsgroups, or subscribed to by sending email to [email protected]. The body of the message should say: SUBSCRIBE BLUES-L <your email>.

Johnny V reports from cyberspace that Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater is recovering fabulously from his open heart surgery in January. Clearwater plans to be back on tour in April, after returning from a short Florida vacation. Rounder will re-release his new CD entitled Mean Case Of The Blues in May.

The 2nd Annual Cleveland Blues Festival is being held on August 15-17, 1997. For more information, visit their website at

A reminder that the crusade to save the last block and a half of Maxwell Street in Chicago is still going strong. The historic blues-relevant area is about to be destroyed by the University of Illinois for redevelopment. To help support this worthy cause, visit the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition website at Letters will be posted on the website, with a link back to you if desired.

– Brian Blain, Lily Sazz, John Valenteyn


The Blues came to town last month – American blues, straight from the homeland.

It was the annual convention of the Folk Alliance and blues music occupied a high profile. Although this could not have been mistaken for a “blues convention” there seemed to be a ‘bit o’ blues’ just about every direction you looked. But appearances are everything and the music industry moguls saw that blues takes up its rightful portion of the folk process pie.

The invasion was spearheaded by Alvin Youngblood Hart when he pulled into town to give all those acoustic blues afficionados a reality check. CJRT’s John Valenteyn spent some time with Alvin -and relates that he got to hear more of Alvin at his half-hour appearance at the Chapters Book Store than in his abbreviated set at the Massey Hall “Folk Dream” concert. We look forward to a local date for this outstanding musician. John continues, “He was around for the conference, however, and received more playing time at Andy Cohen‘s Blues Showcase the next night. A good turnout was the norm at the FolKrawl at 11 downtown clubs, the Silver Dollar was the site of excellent sets by Madagascar Slim, Portland Oregon’s Kelly Joe Phelps, Australia’s Jeff Lang and Murray McLaughlan. Kelly JoePhelps especially captivated a crowd used to electric blues with his acoustic adaptations of delta blues. Chicago’s was the other primary blues venue and Rick Fines, Kevin Duke, New England’s Les Sampou and Ray Bonneville all did fine sets there, Ray getting three encores.”

Back at the conference, showcases by blues artists we caught were by Denver’s Mary Flower, Boulder’s Otis Taylor & Wyoming-soon-to -be-New Orleans’ Spencer Bohren. Stony Plain headman Holger Petersen was a busy fellow, trying to catch as much as he could.

CKLN’s Ian Angus was minding the fort at Chicago’s and made these observations in a recent internet post: “I was especially blown away by Hans Theesink (who did both band and solo sets) and Mary Flower. If either is within driving distance, go see them! I also got to hear Downchild Blues Band, which is based in Toronto but seldom plays here — the Toronto Blues Society brought them to the conference for a well-attended dance on Friday evening. In addition to blues, I heard some acts I’d never otherwise seek out — Hot Soup from Maryland, Malaika from Ottawa both impressed me a lot.

My other big reason for going was to meet some people I only knew through the Internet, and that too was achieved. I met Dick Waterman, who is charming and has a great wealth of stories about blues in the past forty years. I hope he writes his memoirs soon. He was exhibiting some of his photos, which are just superb — I bought one of Mississippi John Hurt, whic will be displayed prominently in my home. (Dick’s photos sell for $500+ in major US galleries — he was charging $150 at the conference.) Mary Katherine Aldin is a delightful person — again, she really ought to be writing a book. Dave Marsh, who has written quite a few books (I have all of them) is just as knowledgeable (and less intimidating) in person as he is on the net.”

Some stalwarts of the Toronto scene had a chance to strut their stuff – David Wilcox was billed as David Karl Wilcox to avoid confusion with an American David Wilcox, but after his set at Richard Flohil‘s storefront stage, no-one can possibly confuse this guy with anyone else on the planet. Toronto’s sheik of slide, Doug Norquay, warmed up the crowd in the COMA suite which also featured Ana Coutino and Gloria Blizzard.

Barbara Isherwood and I ran into each other in Otis Taylor’s hotel room. Indeed many a showcase was presented in a room that couldn’t hold more than a handful of people. But when one of those handful of people is the esteemed blues writer/photgrapher/raconteur Dick Waterman or Rounder founder Ken Irwin, or even a local festival director, one good first impression can make an artists’s investment worthwhile (And it is not a trivial business expense for a struggling artist to get out to one of these conferences).

In the Zephyr suite, Mary Flower and Spencer Bohren took turns sitting on the windowsill and transporting a lucky handfull of folks into blues heaven. Otis Taylor was not singing about heaven (au contraire, would you believe a Christmas song about an axe murderer?). He called his poster a “fight poster” and it proclaimed “Blues with an Attitude”. He delivered intense blues vocals through a guitar amp, playing harmonica, a hastily-rented guitar and a solid-body electric banjo on which he demonstrated “black-style” banjo playing (more strumming and lots of note bending, of course).

Many more notes were bent over that long week-end but nary a bad chord was struck during this colossal undertaking which made evident the high caliber of talent and professionalism that has risen to the top in a music genre that was always quite forgiving of sloppy musicianship. The folk process has evolved a healthy and dynamic music scene, and at the heart of it is the blues.

– Brian Blain, Managing Editor

Musicians Take Note

Canadian Music Week: The business of music is what this week-long, industry-oriented event is about, and if that’s an area you need to brush up on, the CMW Conference offers four days of panels about everything from the fine art of negotiating a deal to FACTOR funding for musicians. Multi-media buffs may want to check out the Apple Music & Multimedia Show that runs as an adjunct event. CMW runs March 3-9, with the conference happening March 6-9. Registration information is available from CMW at 5399 Eglinton Ave. W., Ste. 301, Toronto ON M9C 5K6, tel: 416-695-9236, fax 416-695-9239, web site,

Canada Council: This national arts funding body has undergone some structural changes in order to cope with their reduced funding. The Touring Office is being merged into the Music section, however as tour support is a particular priority, they claim this will not diminish the program. Deadlines for many programs are being limited to once a year. For more information contact the Canada Council at 1-800-263-5588.

Vital Links: If you really like to plan ahead, you may want to put this three-day conference in your calendar for September 25-28, 1997. The goal of this Ontario Arts Council sponsored event is to strengthen the links between artists and community groups. For more information contact the Ontario Arts Council Arts Development Group., 151 Bloor St. W., 6th Fl., Toronto ON M5S 1T6, 416-969-7420, or 1-800-387-0058.

Bowmanville Blues: Musicians who wish to be bring their acts to Bowmanville, Ontario can contact Karla Ingleton at Zona Canada. Ms. Ingleton also offers a number of services and publications of interest to independent artists. She can be contacted at Zona Canada, c/o Karla Ingleton, 3170 Liberty St. N. Bowmanville, ON L1C 4N7 tel: 1-800-668-Fans, the ZONA Mobile Office, 905-623-7508, web site

NWAFOR Management services in Chicago presents a variety of special programs, Blues Art Exhibits, Blues in School Programs, Workshops and Seminars. They represent Fruteland Jackson <>, Robert Jones, Jimmie Lee Robinson, Paul Rishell and Annie Raines, E. C. Scott, Charles Wilson, Ernie Williams and the Wildcats, Sid Selvidge, Ray Bailey, Dietra Farr, Katherine Davis, Roy Hytower, Maurice John Vaughn and Zoom. Contact Karen Nwafor at 312-225-2865.

– Barbara Isherwood

Handy Awards

The 18th Annual W.C. Handy Awards will be presented in Memphis on Thursday, May 1. Here’s a list of nominees, posted by Johnny V on the internet:

The most prestigious award is Blues Entertainer of the Year and its nominees are: Luther Allison, Charles Brown, R.L. Burnside, B.B. King, Taj Mahal, CoCo Montoya & Bobby Rush. There are 23 categories altogether, honouring the best artists, instrumentalists, new artists, recordings and songs both in contemporary and traditional settings. Luther Allison was the big winner last year and he has 5 nominations this year, as does country bluesman Alvin Youngblood Hart, James Cotton has 4, B.B. King 3, along with Coco Montoya. Many others follow with two. Among the record labels, Alligator garnered 6 recordings nominations and the Rounder family, 5. The rest were scattered.

1. Blues Entertainer of the Year:

Luther Allison
Charles Brown
R.L. Burnside
B.B. King
Taj Mahal
Coco Montoya
Bobby Rush

2. Blues Band of the Year:

B.B. King Orchestra
Luther Allison & the James Solberg Band
Magic Slim & the Teardrops
Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers
Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters
Roomful of Blues

3. Contemporary Blues-Male Artist of the Year:

Luther Allison
Big Jack Johnson
Keb Mo’
Coco Montoya
Joe Louis Walker

4.Contemporary Blues-Female Artist of the Year:

Marcia Ball
Debbie Davies
Etta James
Koko Taylor
Toni Lynn Washington

5. Soul/Blues-Male Artist of the Year:

Johnny Adams
Bobby Bland
Solomon Burke
Mighty Sam McClain
Little Milton

6. Soul/Blues-Female Artist of the Year:

Denise LaSalle
Ann Peebles
Francine Reed
Irma Thomas
Lavelle White

7. Traditional Blues-Male Artist of the Year:

R.L. Burnside
James Cotton
David “Honeyboy” Edwards
Frank Frost & Sam Carr
Alvin Youngblood Hart

8. Traditional Blues-Female Artist of the Year:

Rory Block
Bonnie Lee
Annie Raines
Saffire, the Uppity Blues Women
Katie Webster

9. Acoustic Blues-Artist of the Year:

John Hammond
Corey Harris
Alvin Youngblood Hart
Keb’ Mo’
Paul Rishell & Annie Raines

10. Best New Blues Artist:

Alvin Youngblood Hart
Mike Henderson & the Bluebloods
Clarence Spady
Carl Weathersby
Rusty Zinn

11. Blues Instrumentalist-Guitar:

Luther Allison
Ronnie Earl
Anson Funderburgh
Matt Guitar Murphy
Joe Louis Walker

12. Blues Instrumentalist-Harmonica:

William Clarke
James Cotton
Charlie Musselwhite
Rod Piazza
Kim Wilson

13. Blues Instrumentalist-Keyboards:

Marcia Ball
Charles Brown
Floyd Dixon
Pinetop Perkins
Miss Honey Alexander Piazza

14. Blues Instrumentalist-Bass:

Sister Sarah Brown
Aron Burton
Johnny B. Gayden
Willie Kent
Bob Stroger

15. Blues Instrumentalist-Drums:

Ray “Killer” Allison
Sam Carr
Sam Lay
George Raines
Willie “Big Eyes” Smith

16. Blues Instrumentalist-Other:

Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown – violin
C. J. Chenier – accordian
Porky Cohen – trombone
Kaz Kazanof – saxophone
Sonny Rhodes – lapsteel guitar
Roomful of Blues – horn section

17. Contemporary Blues Album of the Year:

Luther Allison Where Have You Been: Live in Montreux
William Clarke The Hard Way
Long John Hunter Border Town Legend
Coco Montoya Ya Think I’d Know Better
Son Seals Live: Spontaneous Combustion

18. Soul/Blues Album of the Year:

Johnny Adams One Foot in the Blues
W.C. Clark Texas Soul
Tutu Jones Blues Texas Soul
Mighty Sam McClain Sledgehammer Soul & Downhome Blues
Johnny Taylor Good Love

19. Traditional Blues Album of the Year:

James Cotton Deep in the Blues
Alvin Youngblood Hart Big Mama’s Door
John Primer The Real Deal
Paul Rishell & Annie Raines I Want You To Know
Junior Wells Come on in this House

20. Comeback Blues Album of the Year:

Little Sammy Davis I Ain’t Lyin’
Floyd Dixon Wake Up and Live
Johnny Jenkins Blessed Blues
Paul Oscher Knockin’ on the Devil’s Door
Brewer Phillips Homebrew

21. Acoustic Blues Album of the Year:

Cephas & Wiggins Cool Down
James Cotton Deep in the Blues
Harmonica Fats & Bernie Pearl Blow, Fat Daddy, Blow
Alvin Youngblood Hart Big Mama’s Door
Paul Rishell & Annie Raines I Want You To Know

22. Reissue Blues Album of the Year:

Bobby Bland That Did it! The Duke Recordings Vol. 3
Slim Harpo The Scratch
Mississippi John Hurt Avalon Blues, The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings
B.B. King How Blue Can You Get, Classic Blues Performances 1964-1994
Freddie King Live at the Electric Ballroom, 1974

23. Blues Song of the Year: Song Title – Composer (Artist/Album Title)

“Been There Done That” – Marvin & Donna Taylor (Francine Reed
Can’t Make It on My Own )
“Fishing Blues” – William Clarke (William ClarkeThe Hard Way )
“One Foot in the Blues” – Dan Penn, Jonnie Barnett & Carson Whitsett (Johnny AdamsOne Foot in the Blues )
“One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show” – Bobby Rush (Bobby RushOne Monkey Don’t Stop No Show )
“We Got To Stop This Killin'” – Big Jack Johnson (Big Jack Johnson
We Got To Stop This Killin’ )

Donate Join TBS Volunteer

©2024 Toronto Blues Society. Design by Janine Stoll Media.
TBS logo and WBR artwork by Barbara Klunder

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.