Toronto Blues Society | » July 2024 – Loose Blues News

July 2024 – Loose Blues News

Published June 29, 2024 in Loose Blues News

Phoenix Closing: One of Toronto’s longest running concert venues is closing early next year. This landmark concert venue, which hosted the Maple Blues Awards this year will go dark effective on Jan. 15, 2025 making room for a new residential housing development. The concert hall has a long history in the city as an entertainment venue. In 1984, it was re-branded as The Diamond. That landmark club closed in 1990 and reopened as the Phoenix, with its own storied history. It’s hosted concerts from The Rolling Stones to The Tragically Hip, Bob Dylan to Alanis Morissette. In 2014, former music biz executive and backer Zeke Myers took over the lease. Lisa Zbitnew, who has served as co-owner and president, promises to look for a new downtown home for the Phoenix, with Toronto City Councillor Chris Moise and others at City Hall, as well as external partners. “Being the custodians of The Phoenix for a decade has been an honour,” Zbitnew says. “She is the grand dame of venues in Toronto, and we’ve seen some of the world’s biggest and best artists grace this stage. We are sad to see her go, but are also excited to turn our focus to writing the next chapter in our new home.” May the Phoenix rise again!

Amy Louie Grossman’s Music Scholarship applications open: Grossman’s Tavern is excited to announce that applications for the Amy Louie Grossman’s Music Scholarship (ALGMS) are now officially open. The application period runs from June 10th to September 23rd, 2024. Musicians can find application details and submit their proposals at Grossman’s Tavern ALGMS. The scholarship winner and runner-up will be revealed during a special fundraiser event on Tuesday, October 8th, 2024, at 7 PM at Grossman’s Tavern. The event will feature live performances from the winners and is set to be a memorable evening celebrating Toronto’s vibrant music scene. Established in 2012, the Amy Louie Grossman’s Music Scholarship was created by the Louie family, owners of Grossman’s Tavern, in memory of Amy Louie, a cherished member of the family and the business. Amy’s vision was to support local musicians, and this scholarship, valued at $2,000 CAD, aims to fulfill her dream by providing vital funding to help artists further their careers. Interested musicians or bands are encouraged to submit a proposal outlining their plans for the scholarship funds. Applications must be received by Monday, September 23rd, 2024.
Congrats: TBS board member Julian Taylor’s Jukebox radio show has received the 2024 CRABO Award (NCRA – National Campus and Community Radio Association) for Best Syndicated Show. Julian writes, “I remember sitting in my backyard with some good friends and starting an online petition back in 2016 to try and get more diversity heard on the radio here in Canada. I’ve always been someone who sticks to a vision if I think it’s an important one that may not only benefit myself but others and this award is one of those full circle moments for me.” You can see when and where it’s playing at

Memphis Bound: Glenn Marais will be representing the Grand River Blues Society in the Solo Act Category at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next year. Glenn will be joined by Big Dan Jeffares in the Band category. Blues fans came out to the Polish Hall to kick off the fundraising to support some of Glenn’s travel expenses to Memphis TN in early January 2025. Watch for upcoming Fundraisers at a venue near you.
More Congratulations! Long time London promoter and friend-of-the-blues Ian Davies has been inducted into the London Music Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement at the Forest City London Music Awards. “It all started in 1971 when I was the first Music Director of Radio Western. Since then, I have worn many, many hats promoting live music and music in general…It has been a wonderful ride and I hope it continues for many more years. Thank you to everyone who has supported me over these many years”.

Aurora Announces 24-25 Musical Lineup: Our outgoing Prez, Derek Andrews is the full-time Performing Arts Manager at the almost finished Aurora Cultural Centre and is programming an eclectic mix at this new music destination that will include a nice mix of Roots & Blues including Sue Foley, Angelique Francis, Old Man Luedecke and Lance Anderson’s Ray Charles tribute as well as a lot of great jazz and classical artists. Until the new concert hall opens in the fall, they have programmed some great music in the Aurora Town Square. More details at

Funding the Blues: It has been 10 years since Robin Banks recorded Modern Classic with Duke Robillard and she is now planning a new recording in Austin in September with old Texas pals Jason and Johnny Moeller, who is currently playing with the Fabulous Thunderbirds. She has set up a GoFundMe page (just go to and search for Miss Robin Banks).

Also seeking some help via GoFundMe is guitarslinger Popa Chubby (aka Theodore Horowitz) who has some serious health challenges which have forced him to cancel a lot of summer festival dates, including Donnaconna Blues, and created a financial crunch for this beloved bluesman. Search for Popa on

RIP Ted Boomer: Ted Boomer, a passionate promoter of Windsor’s music scene, champion for undervalued musicians, and founder of Windsor Bluesfest, died last month after a battle with cancer. He was 70. “We were in it together,” said Louise Knowles, Boomer’s wife of 45 years. “We complemented each other on our strengths…He had ideas and visions that anybody you’d talk to would never think of and just say, ‘Are you kidding, Ted?’ The musicians and their livelihood, that’s kind of what started his career,” she said. “They were an important part of entertaining people. He thought music was very important in life, and the people who created it should be compensated accordingly.” When he started playing in rock bands as a teenager and no agent would take them on, Boomer booked the gigs himself. That entrepreneurial spirit continued through his time at the University of Windsor, where he booked bands for parties and the school pub. He owned a string of clubs where musicians were the focus. Perhaps most fondly remembered among them was California’s Roadhouse on Walker Road. Boomer told the Windsor Star in 1987 that he and his brother sold their cars and houses to gather enough cash to buy the place. Boomer, also founded the Canada South Blues Society and started Bluesfest Windsor in 1995. The massive festival eventually moved to the riverfront, drawing international audiences and acts including Jeff Healey, Buddy Guy, the Yardbirds, Steve Earle, Gord Downie, and Johnny Winter.

Blues Audiophiles Take Note: Who would start a record label these days? Only another record label. Concord Records bought Rounder a few years back and have since purchased several small labels, many with some real blues treasures in their vaults. Now they have a huge catalogue of classic blues recordings and they’ve brought in former Rounder A&R Director (and producer of many of our favourite blues albums), Scott Billington, to go through this treasure trove and curate a selection for release on 180-gram vinyl, with all-analog mastering and faithfully reproduced tip-on jackets. Scott’s first challenge was searching out the original master tapes, then making sure to get the best possible reproduction. The two initial releases are John Lee Hooker’s Burning Hell (originally released in 1964) and Skip James’ Today! (1966). The rollout will continue throughout the year, and beyond, with classic titles from Albert King, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimmy Reed and Blind Gary Davis, among others. In addition to releasing foundational blues titles from such legendary labels as Prestige, Vee-Jay, Riverside, Vanguard, Stax and Rounder, Bluesville Records will also seek to elevate the legacies of the artists behind these albums, while honoring their immeasurable impact on modern music through a variety of initiatives, including curated playlists, in-depth editorial content, dedicated social media channels and much more. For more information, visit

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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.