Toronto Blues Society | » January 2024 – Loose Blues News

January 2024 – Loose Blues News

Published January 2, 2024 in Loose Blues News

Meet “The Maples”: The Maple Blues Awards backing band is changing for the first time since 1999 with an all new set of fresh faces.  Manny DeGrandis is the new  Musical Director (and Bass player). This is Manny’s first year as Musical Director for The Maple Blues Awards Band.  He is no stranger to the award show having Stage Managed the last 2 award shows and working so close with The Maple Blues Band made Gary Kendall’s decision to pass the MD duties over to him easy. Joining him in “The Maples” will be Quincy Bullen – Keyboards, Guitar and Vocals, Selena Evangeline – Guitar and Vocals, Kristen Prince – Tenor and Bari Sax and Dave Patel – Drums. The Maples will be backing up some of the guests performing at the Maple Blues Awards Gala on February 12 at The Phoenix Concert Theatre.  Performers announced so far include Brandon Isaak, Angelina Hunter and the Blackburn Brothers. The evening will be hosted by Quisha Wint. 

Congrats to Toronto guitarslinger Anthony Gomes whose latest CD, High Voltage Blues, is celebrating its 52nd week on the Billboard Blues Chart. Looking forward to a Toronto play in the new year from this home-town hero.

Sad news from a couple of local roots music institutions: Winterfolk has announced they will not be around this winter due to health challenges from founder/director Brian Gladstone.  The Winterfolk Festival has become a significant cultural event in Toronto since its establishment in 2003, bringing together music enthusiasts from various backgrounds to celebrate a diverse range of musical genres against the unique winter backdrop of the city. The decision to take a hiatus in 2024 is clearly a difficult one, given the festival’s prominence and the need for meticulous planning. Everyone is wishing Brian Gladstone and the entire Winterfolk team strength and resilience as they navigate through this challenging period and looking forward to the festival’s return with renewed energy and creativity in 2025.

Blues and Roots Radio will also cease operation at the beginning of the new year.  They posted,  “ It is with heavy hearts that we announce the cessation of broadcasting on Blues & Roots Radio, effective January 31st, 2024. For more details, please read the announcement at the following link: Thank you for your unwavering support throughout the years.
Their newsletter, The Sound Café, will pick up the slack in promoting up-and-coming roots artists.

A new Blues Society emerges: A brand-new blues society is about to take flight.  The Escarpment Blues Society has already had a soft launch for members and continues to offer discounts.  The main launch of the Escarpment Blues Society will take place Tuesday May 28th in the Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre, which features a large theatre with top-notch acoustics. 

The goal of the Escarpment Blues Society is to strengthen awareness and appreciation of Blues And Roots Music while at the same time putting the emphasis on growth. 

The society has a strong mission statement which we’ll include here:

The Escarpment Blues Society will:

• Promote Blues & Roots Music through multiple avenues including live performances, artist support, education with blues in the schools’ programs and highlighting recordings.  

• Support local, national and international blues and roots artists for the advancement of their craft in the Niagara Escarpment area. This applies to established Blues And Roots artists as well as new artists.  

• Support local venues that feature Blues And Roots music 

• Engage in activities that will garner funds for operational needs

• Raise community awareness for Blues and Roots Music, through through social media, mainstream media, digital and print media 

• Will become an affiliate of the Blues Foundation and help raise funds for artists to participate in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis

The Society features a solid board membership of local music fans that have been involved in the music scene for many years in the Hamilton area.  Juno award-winner and Hamilton musician Steve Strongman is just one of the many esteemed board members. 

Steve said: “I see great things happening in the region and beyond for the Escarpment Blues Society.”

The Society intends to promote activities in the area of the Escarpment and the surrounding locales.  The official launch on May 28 will feature the Escarpment Blues All Star Band and a large line up of guest stars.  

For more information go to and you can join the Facebook group by clicking on the link on the web page.  There is also a link to join a mailing list to get up-to-date music information.

Passings:  As we go to press we heard of the sudden passing from a heart attack of Dave Curry, guitarist, leader and founder of The Mighty Duck Blues Band. A popular contributer to the Niagara Music Comunity he will be sadly missed by his wife Denise,  family members, friends, bandmates and fellow musicians. 2023 marked the loss of many great bluesicians and the years ends with both Montreal and Toronto mourning the loss of a couple of significant musicians who spent their lives in around the blues of their respective cities. Bat Taylor was a fixture on the Montreal Blues scene and David Baxter covered every musical genre through his career including plenty of blues. They are well remembered by the musicians and fans who were touched by their talent. 

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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.