Toronto Blues Society | » April 2023 – Loose Blues News

April 2023 – Loose Blues News

Published April 1, 2023 in Loose Blues News

Festival Season: The Blues Festival Guide is now up on the website and TBS staff is keeping busy updating it as hardly a day passes without a festival announcement.  Two new festivals just appeared at the front end of the festival season: 

The Buffalo Blues & Roots Festival kicks off this month with Canadian headliner, Colin James.  It takes place at the Buffalo Riverworks on April 24 & 25. Other artists include Selwyn Birchwood, Miller & The Other Sinners, Tonemah, Patti Parks, The Growlers and more. The event will also feature 20+ local vendors and artisans.

In Hamilton, there’s a new festival and concert series called Smokestack, with the first two-day event May 26 & 27 with Steve Strongman, WhiteHorse, Hogtown AllStars, NQ Arbuckle, Monkeyjunk and Bywater Call!  Tickets are on sale now via!

The Toronto Jazz Festival seems to have abandoned the old tradition of a big blues headliner on opening night but there is plenty of great music coming June 23 to July 2 with blues friendly artists like Tanika Charles and Jully Black and of course there will be some great emerging blues artists playing the TBS Talent Search on June 25.

Talkin’ Blues: Videographer/podcaster Mako Funasaka is still coming up with great interviews on his weekly podcast. He’s got a library of over 400 interviews, many with some folks we don’t hear from very often like Pete Schmidt and Terry Wilkins as well as lots of other interesting music movers and shakers. The latest is a conversation with Duke Robillard and last week it was Erin McCallum.  Mako writes, “A number of years ago, I almost had the chance to interview Steve Vai when he was in Toronto for a week.  When it looked like it might happen, I thought it would be cool to create a podcast around an interview with him.  So, I arranged to interview Andrew Galloway and Shakura S’Aida to see how it would feel to do a podcast series around interviewing people in the music industry.”  You can find the “Talkin’ Blues” podcast on Spotify, Google Play, iTunes and other podcast outlets including:

Grand River Blues: The continuing 20th Anniversary Celebrations of  The Grand River Blues Society has a show at the Polish Hall in Brantford on Thursday, April 6th with an all-star combo of Steve Marriner, Jesse O’Brien, Jimmy Bowskill and Blake Manning on drums. They will be mixing up a delicious gumbo of Swampy Blues, Jump Blues, Blues Rock, Country Blues, Alternative Country, Good Old Rock & Roll, Old School R&B, and Boogie-Woogie Blues for a relaxing Good Friday heading into your Happy Easter 2023. As an added bonus delicious Polish food from The Polish Hall’s renowned kitchen will be available. 50/50 draw and raffle to be held to help support the Society’s youth programs including The Grand River Blues Camp held at the Kitchener Blues Festival in August.

Matt Sobb gets a surprise single: MonkeyJunk drummer Matt Sobb was in Vancouver to celebrate his 50th birthday and he got a big surprise. We’ll let him tell it (via FaceBook): “The story behind the new MonkeyJunk single is a very special one! My wife Rachel was to be in Victoria, BC for work the week before my 50th birthday at the end of September.  She suggested that we spend some time on the west coast to celebrate my milestone. While she was putting the pieces together, I looked to see who may be playing in Vancouver and it turned out that Colin James was playing. My MonkeyJunk band mate Steve Marriner also plays with Colin and this coincidence got Rachel’s wheels really turning! She knew how much I wanted to record at The Warehouse Studio, the world class recording studio owned by Bryan Adams.  Her and Steve started connecting the dots and were able to arrange a surprise recording session. They got my other bandmate Tony on board and it was on!!  The day before the session, my brother Marty and sister-in-law Allison surprised me by appearing in our Air BnB in Vancouver and announced that Marty had arranged for a tour of The Warehouse the next day. When I arrived, Steve was there for the tour which was weird because he had recorded there a few times before already, but he was playing in town the following day so wanted to hang out with us. As we made our way into the main recording area, the staff there was setting up for a session and said we could take a look around but not be too long.  I was kinda bummed out because I wanted to soak up all that was there and not be rushed through. As I made my way into the big room, Tony pops out from behind the vocal booth. Surprise!! The session happening that day was actually ours!!!! I was overwhelmed and couldn’t believe that this was happening. It was a really great day and I think we got a great song out of it (and the start to a few others perhaps?!)”

Coming our way: Originating from the Algonquin reservation of Kitigan Zibi, QC and now based in Ottawa, Lyle Odjick and the Northern Steam appear at the Linsmore Tavern on the Danforth on Thursday evening, April 27th.  7:30 pm.  And Toronto expat Judy Brown is back in town for a rare Toronto appearance Sunday, Apr. 2nd 4-7pm at Sauce, 1376 Danforth Ave.  

Kudos to Klunder: TBS unofficial (graphic)artist-in-residence has received the great honour of having some of her pieces purchased by the Royal Ontario Museum to be included in their permanent collection, just about the greatest recognition a Canadian artist can receive (not to mention the $$$). Barbara was also invited to be part of a ROM event, Canadian Fashion Histories: Learning from Makers and Wearers which expored the history of Canadian textiles and fashions which is one of migration, innovation, entrepreneurship and tenacity; and is largely unwritten. 

More Congrats: Hamilton’s Andre Bisson recently won the prestigious Canadian Blues and Roots artist award for best Song of the Year. He and his great band are appearing at the Market Hall Performing Arts Centre in Peterborough on Saturday, April 1st. 8pm

The Canadian Music Hall of Fame is a mess!  That’s what former CARAS President Dave Charles writes in a recent fyimusicnews e-letter. He’s complaining that there is a large backlog of deserving artists who should be in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. There were five inductees this year, and even fewer in past years.  There are 50 or so members of this elite group and we would surely agree that there are far more Canadian musical artists who are worthy.  He writes, “ There are too many deserving artists and groups knocking on the Hall of Fame door.  CARAS should issue an official letter from the CARAS board and award plaques to those artists acknowledging their Canadian Hall of Fame status this year.  CARAS is in possession of all artists worthy of the Hall of Fame honours.  This will instantly clean up the backlog of artists.  By doing this, it’ll bring CARAS up to date on the legacy of the history of our Canadian Music Industry which right now is inaccurate and under siege.”  

Also knocking on the Hall of Fame door was Todd Littlefield, manager of Downchild, who notes that there is not a single blues artist in the Hall of Fame.  Well, it would be most appropriate that Canada’s unofficial national blues band have a spot in the Hall of Fame.  If you’d like to see Downchild included in the next batch of inductees, send your letter of support to and he will see that it gets to the folks at CARAS.  You will be in good company. Dan Aykroyd, Bonnie Raitt, Dan Lanois, Bruce Cockburn and Colin James are just a few of the folks who feel strongly that Downchild deserves to be in the Hall of Fame (they’ve been in every other hall in the country).

Meanwhile: The Blues Foundation has announced their inductees for the Blues Hall of Fame 2023. Four Chicago bluesmen, a Mississippi juke joint king, a blues queen, and a folk-blues icon are those being inducted into The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame, 43rd class. The inductees include Junior Kimbrough, Carey Bell, Esther Phillips, John Primer, Snooky Pryor, Fenton Robinson & Josh White. Landmark Recordings by Little Walter, Lowell Fulson, Freddie King, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Son House and Howlin’ Wolf were also acknowledged. Those honored have made the Blues timeless through performance, documentation, and recording. Since its inception in 1980, The Blues Foundation has inducted new members annually into the Blues Hall of Fame for their historical contribution, impact, and overall influence on the Blues. Members are inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in five categories: Performers, Individuals, Classic of Blues Literature, Classic of Blues Recording (Song), and Classic of Blues Recording (Album). The Blues Foundation has inducted over 400 industry professionals, recordings, and literature into the Blues Hall of Fame. 

New Blues: The Muddy York Blues Machine is a “new blues” band based in Toronto, Canada. With diverse musical backgrounds and influences, the Machine’s music is emotionally powerful and their performance is electrifying, with each member bringing their own unique musical experience into the mix and laying it all out with sincerity and passion. 

Their self-titled debut EP, released November 5, 2022, delivers a collective of original and well-crafted covers rooted in the blues, but uniquely showcasing a little of each of its members’ musical life journey. With hints of jazz, funk, rock, and country, this EP is sure to please the traditional as much as the eclectic ear.

The Muddy York Blues Machine has had the pleasure of performing in some of the best blues and jazz venues in Toronto such as Hugh’s Room, The Joint, The Black Swan, Blackjack BBQ, Relish, Blues Sunday at the Linsmore, and The Emmet Ray. Having started their musical journey right at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, their live performances had to take a bit of a break, but they are back with upcoming shows in Ontario and an album release tour in 2023.

The Muddy York Blues Machine are: Veronica McNamee – lead vocals, Kirk Reed – guitar/lead vocals, backup vocals, Kevin Ellis – bass/backup vocals, Kevin Costa – drums/percussion, Douglas Nowlan – keys.

– Brian Blain, Janet Alilovic, Lynn Boucher

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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.