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Odds and sods from the Toronto blues community and beyond.

Loose Blues News – May 2019

Milton’s 19 year old blues phenom Gavin McLeod will be doing festival dates at Orangeville (May 31), Downtown Milton Streetfest (June 1), Burlington Sound of Music festival, Ottawa Bluesfest (Jul 11) Tremblant Blues (Jul 12 & 13)

Loose Blues News – April 2019

Congratulations to Colin James who received the JUNO award for 2019 Blues Album of the Year for “Miles To Go.” Colin did not attend in person because he was kicking off a huge cross-Canada tour with the same crack band that played on the album, including some familiar faces on the Toronto blues scene, Jesse O’Brien, Chris Caddell, and MonkeyJunk’s Steve Marriner. Colin beat out a field of top contenders, Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar, Jack de Keyzer, Myles Goodwin and Sue Foley. Congrats to all!

Loose Blues News – March 2019

It was a great shock for all of us here at the Toronto Blues Society when we learned about the sudden passing of Vancouver bluesman Wes Mackey. We were privileged to have him on the Blues Summit 9 stage last month in Toronto and pleased to welcome him at the Maple Blues Awards. Raised in South Carolina, Wes learned the art of guitar from seasoned blues players, eventually moving to Georgia when his career took off backing legends such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed. Years later he would settle in Vancouver and begin a career which was active right up until his passing. Performing worldwide and a favourite of European promoters where he toured often representing classic southern blues, he also kept his art fresh, even taking part in an album of a blues and rap mashup. In his mid-70’s he showed no signs of slowing down. TBS sends its condolences to his wife Laura & his entire family. Photo by Axel Coeuret.

February 2019 – Loose Blues News

Chloe Watkinson is part of Winterfolk’s Blues Showcase on Friday, February 22 at the Black Swan. The showcase, supported by TBS will also feature Bywater Blues and Dan McKinnon  

Loose Blues News – January 2019

Rory Block makes a rare Toronto appearance at Hugh’s Room Live on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. Born in Princeton, NJ, Aurora Rory Block grew up in Manhattan in a family with Bohemian leanings. Her father owned a Greenwich Village sandal shop, where musicians like Bob Dylan, Maria Muldaur and John Sebastian all made occasional appearances. She learned her first lessons in blues and gospel music from the Reverend Gary Davis. She swapped stories and guitar licks with seminal bluesman Son House, Robert Johnsons mentor (He kept asking, Where did she learn to play like this?). She visited Skip James in the hospital after his cancer surgery. She traveled to Washington, DC, to visit with Mississippi John Hurt and absorb first-hand his technique and his creativity. Heralded as a living landmark (Berkeley Express), a national treasure (Guitar Extra), and one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists (Blues Revue), Rory Block has committed her life and her career to preserving the Delta blues tradition and bringing it to life for 21st century audiences around the world.

Loose Blues News – December 2018

Joe Bonamassa, who has grown from a young blues prodigy to an international blues attraction finally received his Maple Blues Award trophys from our own upcoming blues guitar prodigy, Spencer Mackenzie backstage at Joe’s recent show at the Sony Centre. Spencer writes, “…a HUGE thank you for organizing the opportunity for me to meet Joe Bonamassa and present him with his multiple Maple Blues Awards at his show. I am also very grateful for the tickets to his incredible show! He was very thankful and so kind and as a young blues musician he was inspiring both on and off the stage. Thank you again so very much to everyone who made this possible.”

November 2018 – Loose Blues News

Blues legend Otis Rush died September 29 and the blues world mourns. He made a big impression wherever he played and long-time blues fans in Toronto can remember every time he came to town. Born in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Otis Rush moved to Chicago in the late 1940s and quickly began to make a name for himself playing in South and West side clubs. He helped define a distinctive West Side Chicago sound with his unique left-handed technique which allowed him to bend notes in ways few other bluesmen did.He won a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Recording in 1999 for “Any Place I’m Going,” and he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984. Otis Rush continued to play and tour throughout the 1990s and into early 2000. But he suffered a serious stroke in 2003 and never took the stage again.

October 2018 – Loose Blues News

Top Talent coming to The Women’s Blues Revue: Alana Bridgewater is the final featured vocalist to be added to the Women’s Blues Revue lineup at Roy Thomson Hall on November 16. The show will be hosted by Shakura S’Aida and feature Samantha Martin, Dione Taylor, Suzie Vinnick, Nicky Lawrence, and Chloe Watkinson backed by the all-star Women’s Blues Revue Band: Rebecca Hennessy (Bandleader/Trumpet), Elena Kapeleris (Sax), Anna Ruddick (Bass), Emily Burgess (Guitar), Carrie Chesnutt (Sax), Morgan Doctor (Drums), Lily Sazz (Keys).

September 2018 Loose Blues News

Holger Petersen received the esteemed Mel Brown Award for his contribution to blues music in Canada and beyond. Here he is with his award and Miss Angel Brown, Mel’s widow at the presentation which took place at the Kitchener Blues Festival. Previous recipients include Buddy Guy, Jimmy Vaughan and Glenn Smith, the owner of Ethel’s Lounge, who hired Mel to lead the house band at Pop the Gator beginning in 1989.

Loose Blues News – August 2018

Dave Barnes & Meghan Parnell of Bywater Blues as they were crowned winners by emcee Brian Blain at the end of the 2018 TBS Talent Search. The competition was held on July 1st, the last day of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and the hottest day of the year. Other members of Bywater (not pictured because they were already on their way to the next gig) are Alan Zemaitis on keys, Mike Meusel on bass and Bruce McCarthy on drums. Glenn Marais & The Mojo Train were first runner-up, and the Lela Tequila Blues Band were second runner-up. Bywater has just finished the recording of their first album and expect a release this summer. Watch for a profile of the band in an upcoming MapleBlues. Honourable mention goes to the three other finalists, the Gavin McLeod Trio, Gravely James, and 10-year old Azalyne, probably the youngest Talent Search finalist in the history of this competition. Photo by Randall Cook.

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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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