Toronto Blues Society | » March 2023 – Loose Blues News

March 2023 – Loose Blues News

Published February 28, 2023 in Loose Blues News

And the Winner is…  This year’s Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album was Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder – Get on Board and Best Contemporary Blues Album was Edgar Winter for  Brother Johnny. 

JUNO Nominees for Blues Album of the Year were announced and they are Midnight Blues – Crystal Shawanda, Long River – Angelique Francis, Thanks for Tomorrow – Harrison Kennedy, Preach to My Soul – Spencer MacKenzie and Live at the King Eddy Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer.  Good luck to all. The winner will be announced on March 13th in Edmonton.

Remember The Silver Dollar Room?  It was Toronto’s premiere “house of the blues,” from 1994 to 2010 when Gary Kendall was booking the top touring blues acts. And now the Silver Dollar Room on Spadina has re-emerged as part of a 15-storey residential complex, and celebrating its 65th Anniversary with a two night reopening weekend March 10 and 11. They promise that attendees will be transported back to 1958, when the venue was created, for a night of 50’s and 60’s live music. The Digs play on Friday, and Queen Pepper on Saturday. General admission tickets are $25.

The Grand River Blues Society is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and a number of shows will take place to celebrate their Platinum year, including The Weber Brothers on March 4 which takes place following their AGM at the Polish Hall in Brantford. Another anniversary concert next month, also at the Polish Hall, is on Thursday April 6th where an all-star band of Steve Marriner, Jesse O’Brien, Jimmy Bowskill and Blake Manning take the stage at 8pm. In addition, on April 30 the GRBS will hold their Road to Memphis Competition at Stonewalls to choose a representing performer for the IBCs in Memphis. And, on May 7 in conjuction with Kitchener Blues, GRBS hosts a Youth Showcase at 2pm, where young talent competes for the chance to perform this summer on the main stage at the TD Kitchener Blues Festival in August.

Blues at Ottawa Bluesfest: The festival has one less day than usual this year. It runs from Thursday, July 6 to Sunday, July 9 and from Wednesday, July 12 to Sunday, July 16. That makes for a two-day break during the festival, rather than the usual one-day break in prior years.  Lots of big names like Shania Twain, Mumford & Sons and Weezer and a nice selection of favourite blues artists: Southern Avenue, Digging Roots, The Jesse Greene Band (Friday, July 7), Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings ft. Daniel Lanois and Suzie Vinnick, Sugaray Rayford (Saturday, July 8), Guy Belanger (Sunday, July 9), Sussex (Friday, July 14), HOROJO Trio, TJ Wheeler (Saturday, July 15), Miss Emily (Sunday, July 16).  

Congrats to Angelique Francis who was selected as one of 6 Canadian Artists to watch in 2023 by Elle Magazine

Goodbye to a couple of Joes: Mendelson Joe (born Birrel Josef Mendelson) co-founder of McKenna Mendelson Mainline, one-of-a-kind painter and an outspoken political activist, died on Feb. 7, at age 78. After five years suffering with Parkinson’s he opted for MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) and left a farewell message on Facebook thanking the government for this compassionate policy (Joe did not thank the government very often). He began performing as a blues musician under the name Joe Mendelson in 1964, and started Mainline with guitarist Mike McKenna. In 1975, Joe adopted his current name and began performing as a solo artist and began to make a name for himself as a contemporary artist, pursuing painting, often of portraits of popular musical figures.

Joe (Joel Lindsay) Toole, guitarist of popular Toronto rock band The Phantoms, died on Feb. 1, at age 60, of cancer. Toole had recently suffered a stroke. While receiving care, it was discovered that he had an aggressive form of stage 4 lung cancer that spread to other parts of his body.

He was a fixture on the music scene,  trading licks on stage with Jeff Healey with The Phantoms to playing every Tuesday at Grossman’s Tavern with his old-timey blues project Brokenjoe. He was also a longtime bartender at two major Toronto live music venues, Lee’s Palace and The Horseshoe Tavern.

The Phantoms were a blues rock band originally from Ottawa and formed in 1986 from the remnants of another band, The Rapid Waters Band. They made a name for themselves in the Toronto bars during the mid to late eighties. A debut indie cassette, Alive At The Diamond, was followed in 1990 by the album, Pleasure Puppets, out via a distribution deal with A&M. They would release one more album as a band in 1992, Raw,  before frontman Jerome Godboo pursued his solo career. 

Toole later reunited with Godboo in blues/roots trio Brokenjoe (also featuring Alec Fraser on bass), and he sang, wrote, and played guitar and banjo in that group. Jerome Godboo wrote, “Joe Toole has passed away, and now it’s time to fondly remember him. He died peacefully in bed with his wife Pamela singing him songs that they both had learnt & adored. Joe had some really great qualities as a man and remained true to his own sense of humour, style and character. I was lucky that Joe took me on in an older brother-type way, which means that he encouraged me and guided me to discover great musicians, but he was way too wild for me to hang around with!”

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