The Hogtown Allstars is not just a group of musicians all having a high level of performance in their field, in effect a musical All Star team. They are all well established artists in their own right, with a musical pedigree that some players could only dream of having. Each player in this band is an award winner that represents the finest in his chosen instrument. 

Consisting of some of the finest blues players in the world, a collaborative venture that was started in 2013, the Hogtown boys are ready to take it to the next level. Their debut CD, Hog Wild, is a collection of beautifully crafted tunes, including 8 originals and 2 covers, released through Stony Plain Records. 

Featuring Downchild alums Chuck Jackson, Pat Carey, Gary Kendall, Jim Casson, and Tyler Yarema, along with Maple Blues Band mainstay’s Teddy Leonard and Howard Moore, this 7 piece powerhouse of a band is sure to send ripples through the entire Canadian blues scene.

The album opens with Mr. Lucky, a fun filled, fast paced cut with layer upon layer of incredible performances. In my case, my ear is immediately drawn to the phat sound of the horn section, a powerful vehicle for the tune. Add the magnificent keys, bright and vibrant harmonies, with Chuck Jackson’s wonderfully quirky delivery, you have the perfect opener, building the anticipation for what is to come.

You don’t have to wait long, as up next is the cool groove of the title track. This smoky swampy romp has life of it’s own. This cut is infectious! As you listen, you cannot help but find yourself movin’ with the groovin’, instant joy in musical form.

The third cut is Real Good Night, an end of the evening tribute to the good times to be had in your favorite joint, now that they are re-opened in the post Pandemic world. By now, you have to be captured by the rich, lush sound of this album. There’s nothing overpowering, nothing blaring or ear shattering. Every instrument, every voice, every beat is on que and expertly done.

Up next, I Just Think of You, a soulful blues with hints of that Motown sound, it speaks to the heart. Every second of this song is a pure delight, in the vein of great classics like “The Way You Do The Things You Do”. 

The fifth cut on the album is a classy ballad about finding your true love, with a sweetness about it. The blues undertones are still there, as they meet “in a Smoky Old Bar”, dance to the music from the Juke Box and then head off together into the night. Chuck Jackson’s delivery is magical, and Teddy Leonard’s guitar is subtly perfect.

Subway Casanova is up next, a funky little groove, quirky with a touch of charm. Teddy, Gary and Jim hold down the fort with a groove as solid as hell! The kind of cut you just lean back in your chair, sip your beer and smile all the way through. A sonic tonic for the soul.

The seventh cut on the album, The Sad One, is anything but sad. A toe tapper with wonderful harmony and distinctive rhythm, short, sweet and to the point. Pat Carey’s wonderful sax help carry the tune, with a bright and lively B3 Solo from Tyler Yarema.

Next is Biscuits and Beans, a beautifully stripped down offering that brings the blues firmly back into focus. Something that might sound perfectly at home on a back porch in the Mississippi delta.

The ninth track is She’s Got the Stuff, another quirky little romp, with a killer rhythm section, Gary Kendall and Jim Casson at their very best. The harmony stings a wonderful counterpoint to Chuck’s delightful lyrical delivery, and Teddy’s guitar is a great display of how to build tension in a guitar solo.

The album closes with I Ain’t Lyin’, the perfect ending to a musical romp that will leave your ears loving what they have heard, and your heart longing for more.

The Hogtown Allstars have a winner on their hands. Let’s face it, when you take the best of the best, the expectations are high! The Hogtown Allstars certainly do not disappoint. Hog Wild is a treat for the ears, from start to finish.

Can’t wait to see what they come up with next! (Terry Parsons)