Toronto Blues Society | » Loose Blues News

Loose Blues News

Published October 4, 2011 in Loose Blues News, News

October 2011 – Vol. 27, No. 10

Maple Blues Awards Hosts Announced! The hosts for the 15th annual Toronto Blues Society Maple Blues Awards are Treasa Levasseur and Shakura S’Aida! For a third consecutive year, the award show takes place in Koerner Hall on Monday, January 16, 2012. The gala event celebrates Canadian blues featuring the finest musicians and special guests from across Canada, all backed by the Maple Blues Band. Tickets are on sale now! If you are a Charter Member in good standing, please call the TBS office to obtain the special discount code. If you are not a member, purchase tickets at

Talking Music: Holger Petersen has hosted CBC Radio’s Saturday Night Blues for 25 years and  Natch’l Blues on Alberta’s CKUA network for more than 40 years. Now he’s assembled 19 in-depth interviews in a new book called Talking Music (Insomniac Press). Featured artists range from guitarist Ry Cooder, Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood, gospel star Mavis Staples, Sun Records’ founder Sam Phillips and singers Lucinda Williams, Maria Muldaur and Bonnie Raitt.  “Hopefully, these interviews illuminate the wonderful music these people have made,” Holger says. “The only difficulty for me was choosing 19 interviews out of the hundreds that I’ve been lucky enough to have.”

Ross Neilsen will represent New Brunswick at IBC: Big congrats to Ross Neilsen for winning our IBC finals. He will represent Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival/New Brunswick in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge in January. Go Ross!

Attention Blues Songwriters: The TBS recently received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts program, Commissioning of Canadian Compositions, to pay Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley to compose The Blues Suite, a collection of songs inspired by the history of the music. We’d like to apply again so if you have an idea for a body of work you’d like to spend some time writing, let us know. The funds cover writing fees only (not performance, production or recording, although the Canada Council does want a guarantee that the work will be performed under the commissioning group’s umbrella). This is a national competition and songwriting excellence is the main criteria, so hit us with your best ideas. Contact the TBS office for more information.

JUNO update: The JUNO Awards have announced the 2013 celebrations will take place in Canada’s Queen City, Regina, SK on April 15-21, 2013. This year’s JUNO Awards and JUNO Week will be held in Ottawa, March 26 – April 1, 2012.

Haze FM: Canada’s only commercial web radio station, Haze FM is the place to be for Blues fans every Sunday. Sunday morning at 11AM is Sunday Morning Soul with Johnny Max. The HAZE FM also has Brant Zwicker’s At The Crossroads directly following Sunday Morning Soul at 1PM and following Brant’s show is Patrick Le Blanc’s Southern Crossroads from Jackson MI airing form 2-4PM. Starting next month they will broadcast a 2 hour show from DAWG FM in Ottawa each and every night. The HAZE is fast becoming the place to go t listen to brand new Blues, Roots, Soul and R&B music, not only on the weekend but also each night. You can follow the Haze on facebook at

The Mississauga Blues & Roots Association is up and running: The MBRA has a Board of Directors and is putting on its first show of the year on Saturday Oct 22nd with The Riverview Room All Stars and special guests Virgil Scott, Carl Henry III, Penny Skolski & Cristina Paoletta. The Riverview Room is located above The Port Credit Legion (35 Front St N). Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Impressionable Gifts, 74 Lakeshore Rd E, 905 274 8999 or Ric’s Recollections, 257 Lakeshore Rd E, 905 891 1523. The MBRA endeavours to bring more new and original music to the Mississauga area with monthly shows and a singer-songwriter night each First Thursday of the Month (Oct 6th with Terry Blersh & Eugene Smith and Nov 3rd with Dominic Mancuso & Wendell Ferguson). More Information can be found at  or e-mail them at

Larry Garner in Ontario: Louisiana’s Larry Garner Blues Band will be making their way back to Ontario for performances October 13 at the Gordon Best Theatre Peterborough (Moondance George Street for tickets 705 742-9425) , October 14 at the Regent Theatre in Picton (1-877-411-4761) and October15 at the Perth Studio Theatre (phone Tickets Please at 613-485-6434 or on line at

R.I.P. Willie “Big Eyes” Smith: Willie “Big Eyes” Smith was already in love with the blues when he arrived in Chicago as a teenager and first heard Muddy Waters.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports Mr. Smith went on to play drums with Waters, combining his own deep feel for Mississippi Delta blues with the unique Chicago sound pioneered by Waters.

It was Waters who gave Mr. Smith his nickname. “His eyes were always big when he played, or when he laughed,” his son Kenny Smith said. “He had this humongous laugh.”

Chicago bandleader Nick Moss played bass, then guitar in the band for about four years, learning about music and life from Mr. Smith.

“Some of the best times of my life were spent in that van with Willie,” Moss said. “He had horse sense. He could be profound without preaching.”

Moss and others said Mr. Smith’s death has hit the Chicago blues community hard.

Toronto producer/bass player Alec Fraser played and recorded alongside Willie on numerous occasions.

He remembered  his last meeting with Willie: “We talked at the Kitchener Blues Festival were he continued to play regardless of his cancer treatments and still put everything into his shows. I and many other buddies have great memories of making records with Willie then going on the road to Greece and having a ball.

Every time I’d bump into Willie overseas I’d yell “Hey Plasma” because it always got a huge laugh from him. He was the last of the real Chicago veteran drummers and had a loose style of playing that is rarely heard these days. He lived life to the fullest and did what he wanted to do right up to his last days on earth.”

Mr. Smith, 75, died of a stroke Friday, Sept. 16, in the University of Chicago Medical Center in Chicago, said his son Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith. He had lived in Chicago for about 58 years. He is also survived by his wife of 42 years, Ilene; sons Kerry, Andre, Javik and Willie Jr.; daughters Sally, Jacqueline and Cassandra Smith, Barbara Miller, Patricia Morris, Joyce McNeil and Darlene Lipsey; and 30 grandchildren..

Donate Join TBS Volunteer

©2024 Toronto Blues Society. Design by Janine Stoll Media.
TBS logo and WBR artwork by Barbara Klunder

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.