Toronto Blues Society | » John’s Blues Picks

John’s Blues Picks is the monthly album review column originally launched by the late Toronto-based blues historian and broadcaster, John Valenteyn. Submission can be sent to the TBS office for consideration and will be circulated to a pool of journalists and others for review in the monthly Maple Blues newsletter and placed at the Spotify playlist.

March 2024 – Danielle Nicole

With the release of The Love You Bleed, Danielle Nicole’s career continues to soar. Her previous album was nominated for a Grammy and topped the Billboard blues chart, and this current CD — her third since becoming a solo artist — has hit number one on the Billboard, iTunes and Amazon blues charts. 

March 2024 – Ndidi O

Ndidi Onukwulu submitted a three song demo to the TBS Talent Search as an early first step in her Toronto career, twenty years ago.  She didn’t “compete” in the session as the submission came in too late, however the tracks were so compelling, she got an invite to the Women’s Blues Revue in 2004 at Massey Hall

December 2023 – André Bisson

It has been largely under the radar, but Canadian soul/blues/roots singer/songwriter André Bisson has been a prolific recording artist over the past two decades. Latchford is rather a milestone album, as it is the 10th entry in his discography.

December 2023 – LJ Mounteney

LJ Mounteney spent her early years on the prairies. Her mother had a great love of music, which she passed along to her daughter. LJ moved to BC and found herself in Vancouver. After taking the jazz program at Vancouver Community College, she sang in jazz, swing, R&B, roots and pop bands.

September 2023 – The Blackburn Brothers

The Toronto music scene has been enriched by members of the Blackburn family for over five decades, beginning with veteran R&B artist  and family patriarch Bobby Dean Blackburn. He has passed the torch onto a younger generation, and it is now burning bright in the form of The Blackburn Brothers, comprised of his sons Duane (lead vocals, organ, piano), Brooke (guitar, vocals), Cory (drums, harmony vocals), and Robert (guitar, harmony vocals).

September 2023 – Coco Montoya

Coco Montoya hits a home run in his 11th album, Writing on the Wall. This southpaw guitar master, who began as a drummer, is an alumnus of both Albert Collins’s and John Mayall’s bands. Montoya describes his philosophy as “Just play what you feel, be real about it, and enjoy yourself. That’s what Albert Collins taught me.”

August 2023 – The LH Express

This is the 4th album for this Ottawa band, formerly known as “The Lucas Haneman Express”. Painting Stars is the forceful, bluesy sound of a quartet coming out of lockdown with something to prove, a burst of light and optimism we can really use.


June 2023 – Tony Holiday

With a cohort of like-minded musicians, vocalist and harmonica player Tony Holiday has been shaking up the blues scene in Memphis since his move there from Salt Lake City in 2017.

May 2023 – Taj Mahal

Upon first glance at the song titles of Taj Mahal’s latest album, one could be excused for initially wondering if renditions of 14 classic jazz/blues songs that have been cut dozens and dozens of times would be close to required listening.

May 2023 – Eric Bibb

Eric Bibb’s immense musical talents, his fierce and focused dedication to musical forms largely steeped in the blues and folk traditions, have long been coupled with his magnificent, immediately identifiable voice that is one of the most penetrating instruments of our time.


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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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