Toronto Blues Society | » Loose Blues News

Loose Blues News

Published April 3, 2013 in Loose Blues News, News

Supporting Blues for Youth: Music By The Bay Festival – Canada’s Only Festival for Musicians Under 21 is presenting “An Evening with Steve Strongman & Friends at the Pickering Recreation Complex, 1867 Valley Farm Road on Friday April 12, Opening the show will be Cole Hermer at 7PM and Caught in the Crossfire at 8PM  Tickets are $35 available online More info at

Studying The Blues: Radio personality Larry Green is lecturing a course on blues music at the University of Toronto at the School of Continuing Studies on Wednesday nights 6:30-8:30pm for six sessions starting April 3.  Here is the course description: The Blues is a wonderful, stimulating and fascinating kind of music, combining many elements of jazz, big band, country, urban and folk. The Blues isn’t always sad, but also joyful and inspiring. During this six-week interactive course, we will explore it all — we will talk about the Blues, learn how to listen to it more appreciatively, and enjoy the occasional guest and giveaways. It’s not something you hear every day, but you’ll want to “get the blues.” to enrol in this course or search for other available offerings visit

Singing The Blues: “From the South to New York” is a 3-class course being held on Mondays, April 15, April 22 and April 29 from 6:30-8:30. A certificate of completion will be offered and classes can be attended individually. The course will be taught by professional vocalist, musician/university instructor. Beginners/auditors welcome.  Info at

George Olliver’s celebrates 50 years: Those who recall the glory days of Toronto music, when Yonge Street and Yorkville were buzzing with world-class live music in the 1960s and 70s —and those who’ve heard all about it and wish they’d been there— know the name of George Olliver, The frontman of iconic Mandala and member of several other groups that helped create and define “The Toronto Sound” has been an enduring attraction for coming up on 50 years.  Olliver will, in fact, hit the half-century mark as a professional entertainer on Sunday April 21, when he and a slew of his musical comrades from over the years celebrate with a mammoth concert party at St. Clement Hall at 76 Overlea Blvd. in Toronto.

The 6 p.m. event, the 14th in a series of Honouring Our Own tribute concerts staged by SongTown impresario Pete Otis, will feature George and members of his Gangbuster band plus fellow legends such as singers Steven Ambrose of The Lincolns, A&M recording artist Betty Richardson and Juno nominee Jay Douglas and Juno award winner Cathy Young.

The bill also includes McKenna-Mendelson Mainline guitarist/writer Mike McKenna, Luke Gibson of Luke & The Apostles, Bobby Dupont of The Royals and Sweet Blindness, and Whitey Glan, drummer for Mandala and the Alice Cooper Band. Roger Ashby of CHUM radio will be the emcee for the show, for which advance tickets are available for $30 by visiting , emailing peteotismusic@hotmail.comor calling 416-522-9896.

Layla Zoe Update: Blues belter Layla Zoe has been off work for more than two months with a back injury and a benefit concert to help pay for her recent emergency back surgery and related medical costs is slated to take place March 30 in BC. Zoe suffered from back pain last year while touring, but was unaware she had had a disk extrusion as she was in Europe and unable to get a proper diagnosis, she said. She also suffers from degenerative disk disease in her lower lumbar. When she came home in December she collapsed and was unable able to walk, and spent Christmas Eve in the emergency room of the Nanaimo Hospital.

She has since had back surgery but it will be several months before she can walk normally again, she said. She has had to cancel shows in Canada and Europe and postpone the recording of her new album in Germany. Zoe is a resident of Quebec which has different health care regulations than the rest of the country, she said, and therefore she’s had to pay for every doctor’s appointment, MRI, blood test and other consultations herself, and she may not get any of that money back.

Layla says “It means so much to me to know that the community is coming together for a great night of music, and trying to help me right now. The support of my family, friends and fans is what has helped me to get through this dark time.”

A special compilation CD is available for purchase for those who can’t make the concert, as well as physical copies available at the event. It includes music from Layla’s first four albums remastered by Raines Records, called Years in the Blue Flame. Visit to download an edition and make a donation for the album. For more on Layla Zoe visit

R.I.P. Larry Leishman: Many local players were shocked to hear of the sudden death of Larry Leishman, guitarist with Jon and Lee and the Checkmates (aka the Jon-Lee Group) in the sixties, Rhinoceros and Blackstone in the ’70 and the reunited John Finley and the Checkmates in the ’90s. Bill Munson writes, “The Checkmates were a fabulous Toronto R&B group, whose one and only record, “Bring It Down Front”, was a big local hit in ’67. Larry rejoined three fellow former Checkmates (John Finley, Michael Fonfara and Peter Hodgson) in Rhinoceros for their third LP in 1970 (since reissued on CD). On that one his best showcase is “Rain Child”, a blues that he co-wrote with singer-drummer Duke Edwards, who calls Larry into the song under his nickname, ‘Blue’.

A couple of years later, the same guys got together as Blackstone, whose one album was reissued on CD by Pacemaker in recent years. I think Larry pretty much stopped playing after Blackstone, at least until the Checkmates reunion, though his song “Hobo” was the a-side of Triumph’s first 45. While Triumph is remembered as a metal band, the song is more blues, and was really recorded by Triumph’s pre-Rik Emmett forerunner group Abernathy Shagnaster, with Fred Keeler on guitar and Peter Young on organ as well as Triumph stalwarts Gil Moore and Mike Levine. In the last year or so Larry recorded some really nice atmospheric home recordings that, thanks to his great friend Jeff Cutler, the original Checkmates drummer, can be found on YouTube under the name Messenger – e.g.,″

In the studio: Hot on the release of Christmas With The Blues, David Gogo is back in the studio recording a new album.  David writes ” Rick Salt is back co-producing and guests so far include David Vest and Shawn Hall ( Harpoonist ) as well as the many talented locals that we are so lucky to have on Vancouver Island .  I co-wrote a couple of songs with Melisa Devost (who has worked with Ken Whiteley ) so there is a Hornby Island connection which is cool since I’ll be returning for my 14th year as an instructor at their annual blues camp in May.” . The album is scheduled for release it on June 18 .

Blues Camp in Montreal: In tune with the Festival international de Jazz de Montréal’s mission of promoting music making, the Blues Camp presented by TD offers some 50 young people a unique lifetime opportunity to live their musical passion for seven straight days and learn the ropes, all with the help of professionals from the world of music who will accompany them at the final show on the TD stage before a live audience, at the wind-up to the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal. Registration has begun for 8th edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival’s  blues camp and auditions will be held in Montreal on Saturday, April 20 at École Marguerite-De Lajemmerais. The Blues Camp is totally free of charge and takes place at Cégep du Vieux Montréal on Sunday June 30, to Saturday, July 6, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the possibility of one or two evening outings. Groups lessons, clinics and private concerts are an integral part of the program, which the team responsible for the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal has designed especially for this project.

Save Trumpet Records: Mississippi bluesman Sherman Lee Dillon has been spreaheading a campaign to restore the site of the Legendary Trumpet Records on Farish Street in Jackson, Mississippi. Trumpet Records was the first record company in Mississippi to achieve national stature through its distribution, sales, radio airplay and promotion. Willard and Lillian McMurry launched the label from their retail store, the Record Mart at 309 North Farish Street, in 1950, and later converted the back room into a recording studio. The first releases by Mississippi blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2, Elmore James, and Willie Love appeared on Trumpet in 1951.

The primary artist on the Trumpet label was Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller), who had eleven records released between 1951 and 1955, the label’s final year of operation. The McMurrys continued to record country artists for their Globe label until 1956. “Dust My Broom” by Elmo (Elmore) James was the only Trumpet record to reach the national rhythm & blues charts of Billboard magazine (in April 1952), but other records by Williamson and Willie Love appeared on regional charts as far away as California and Colorado.

Lillian McMurry was elected to the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame in 1998. She died on March 18, 1999. Her husband Willard, who provided the backbone of support for their business ventures, died on June 7, 1996.

Sherman Lee Dillon adds, “When people find out I’m from Mississippi, they often ask, ‘Why don’t ya’ll do more to preserve the historical landmarks the rest of the world reads about?’ After all, Mississippi does call itself, “The birthplace of American Music”. We are are trying to do somethng. If you’re from Mississippi, do it for your state, If you like Rock and Roll, show some gratitude for those who went before, If you like history, you might want to preserve the story. If you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket, we need your help.”

There are only a couple of weeks left on the fundraising campaign so go to:

– Brian Blain, Bill Munson

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.