Toronto Blues Society | » TBS Talent Search 2016

TBS Talent Search 2016


Six bands…

$1,000* Grand Prize…

FREE afternoon of music…

The 2016 TBS Talent Search is here!

Witness the next generation of Canadian blues musicians at Toronto’s Jazz Bistro on Sunday, July 24 from 2pm-5:30pm! This year’s finalists include Andre Bisson, Brian Sasaki & The Scuffed Souls, Jay Pollmann, Jesse Greene Band, Sons of Rhythm and Spencer MacKenzie.

This year’s grand pize includes $1,000 cash,* festival performances at Tim Hortons Southside Shuffle, Aurora Winter Blues Festival and Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival, recording time at Canterbury Recording, mentor meetings, printing package from Gullons Printing, graphic design from Janine Stoll Media, rehearsal time at Cherry Jam Rehearsal, 1-year Bandzoogle website, photo shoot with Bill King,and more!

Event Details: 
Sunday, July 24, 2016, 2pm-5:30pm
Jazz Bistro (251 Victoria St)
Admission: FREE!

*$1000 Grand Prize and runner up prizes courtesy of Blues Benefactor Raymond Rupert.


Andre Bisson | Hamilton, ON

Andre-Bisson-by-Marta-HewsonWhen one thinks of all the great performers of soul and rhythm & blues music, one doesn’t usually associate it with a young man from Northern Ontario – until they meet Andre Bisson. The award winning composer, arranger, guitar player and vocalist is one of the hardest working musicians around. Soulful, talented and sharp, Bisson was clearly born with a passion for music and performing, as well as the smarts and talent to pull it all together and build a large following in Southern Ontario and beyond.

Brian Sasaki and the Scuffed Souls | Toronto, ON

Brian Sasaki and the Scuffed Souls tightBrian Sasaki and the Scuffed Souls are a truly original Rockabilly, Blues & Swing act that bring together dynamic musicianship with tongue-in-cheek lyricism and vocal flare. With the positive energy the band delivers to each live performance, the audience always feels included. The group has just finished recording their debut EP, “Not for Prophets,” captured live-off-the-floor in Sutton, Ontario.

Jay Pollmann | Cayuga, ON

Jay Pollmann squareJay Pollmann is a southern Ontario musician/songwriter born in Hamilton and raised just outside the small town of Cayuga. In 2013 Jay set out to launch a solo career finding an outlet for his musical ideas through his acoustic guitar with help from his brass slide, harmonicas, his feet and the odd tambourine stomp. He sings songs about the things he knows from “steering with your knees” to “closing down the local watering hole.” Channelling many styles and influences through his acoustic filter, the sound that forms is something Jay calls “Foot Stompin’ Rootsy Blues”. Never one to model or mimic himself after other artists Jay’s sound is organic, original, raw and full of energy.

The Jesse Greene Band | Ottawa, ON

After the successful release of her first musical foray, a self-titled EP called inevitably, “The Jesse Greene Band,” Jesse has found herself composing songs for her second album with a new rhythm section comprised of veteran musician Bassist Kurt Walther, and drummer Matt Wood. Marc Seguin, her long-time and always entertaining harp player remains with the band as the only holdover from the previous ensemble. “From Blues and Rock n’ Roll to cosmic Soul from beyond…Jesse Greene and her band make my big toe shoot right out of my boot. These guys rock, period.” – Tony D. (MonkeyJunk)

Sons of Rhythm | Toronto, ON 

Sons of RhythmTake an energetic blues sound, mix it with a modern edge, throw in four magnetic personalities, and you’ll have the powerhouse band that is Sons of Rhythm. The group, comprised of bassist and vocalist Mick Maratta, guitarist Federico Luiu, pianist and saxophonist Anthony Brancati, and drummer Mike Carbone, has made a name for itself on the Toronto music scene with their unique sound and lively performances. Sons of Rhythm captivate audiences with their creative arrangements of old standards as well as catchy, energetic originals.

Spencer MacKenzie | Ridgeway, ON 

Spencer MacKenzie16 year-old guitarist/singer Spencer Mackenzie has been making a name for himself in Southern Ontario by performing with some notable heavyweights on the blues music scene and earning praise everywhere he goes. In 2013 he won the Niagara Music Awards Rising Star award and performed in the 2016 Youth Showcase at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. In May 2016 he released his debut CD Infected With The Blues.


  • $1000 Cash Prize*
  • Feature in Maple Blues Newsletter
  • Showcase at Blues Summit 8
  • Photo Shoot with Bill King
  • Recording time at Canterbury Music
  • Performance at Tim Horton’s Southside Shuffle 2016
  • Performance at Aurora Winter Blues Festival 2017
  • Performance at Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival 2017
  • Mentorship meetings with Derek Andrews, Sarah French and Richard Flohil
  • Gullons Printing Flyer Package (1000 Full Colour, Double-Sided, 4X6 Flyers)
  • Janine Stoll Media Graphic Design (3hrs)
  • Cherry Jam Rehearsal Time (3hrs)
  • 1 Year Standard Bandzoogle Website
  • Consideration to showcase at TBS’s Blues Showcase at Folk Music Ontario 2016
  • Consideration to represent TBS at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) 2017

Runner Up Prize: Two $250 prizes* will be awarded to the first runner up and second runner up.

*$1000 Grand Prize and runner up prizes courtesy of Blues Benefactor Raymond Rupert. 


Each year, the Toronto Blues Society searches for Canada’s undiscovered blues talent. Six finalists are selected to perform for a professional development package including festival gigs, mentorship meetings, studio time, graphic design and much more!

Eligibility. The TBS Talent Search is open to emerging Canadian blues artists who have not appeared in the finals of the talent search in the past, who do not have national distribution and would be considered an “undiscovered” or “rising” artist by their peers.


1995 – Maureen Brown and Big Hand
1996 – Robin Banks
1997 – Rockin’ Highliners
1998 – Jake & the Blue Midnights
1999 – Ronnie Douglas Blues Band
2000 – Scotty Doubt Band
2001 – Big Mark & the Blues Express
2002 – David Rotundo and the Blue Canadians
2003Dylan Wickens Band
2004 – Bharath & the Catfish
2005 – Wickens/Knight
2006The Undesirables
2007 – Douglas Watson R&B Revue
2010 – The 24th Street Wailers
2011 – Bradleyboy Mac Arthur 
2012 – Irene Torres & The Sugar Devils 
2013 – Sugar Brown
2014 – The Conor Gains Band
2015 – Michael Schatte




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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.