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TBS Talent Search 2020



After narrowing the field to six finalists who showcased on Sunday, October 4th, and after careful deliberations, the jury selected Mike Nagoda and The Spectrum Blues Band as the champion, with Josh Ritchie as the first runner-up, and Madison Galloway as the second runner-up. Mike Nagoda and The Spectrum Blues Band took home a jam-packed professional-development package including festival gigs, mentorship meetings, studio time, graphic design and much more. Huge congrats to all the bands!


This year the competition fever took place on  Sunday, October 4th between 3-6pm at Bar Twelve 16 (1603 Queensway) in Etobicoke. The event was free and open to public. Seating was required due to COVID-19 and health & safety measures was in place.

The judges for the 25th edition of the TBS Talent Search were Sarah Kim Turnbull (Artistic Director of Markham Jazz Festival), Diana Webley (Harbourfront Centre Senior Producer), Josh Grossman (Toronto Jazz Festival Artistic Director), and Kris Kane (Southside Shuffle Festival Chair).

? Schedule
3:00pm – Mike Nagoda & The Spectrum Blues
3:30pm – Shakey Trill
4:00pm – Gail Gunnis & The Dirty Roosters
4:30pm – Madison Galloway
5:00pm – Federico Luiu
5:30pm – Josh Ritchie
6:00pm – Results

Click for the Facebook event page.

Federico Luiu | Toronto, ON

Federico Luiu began developing his deep passion for music at thirteen years of age. His father’s love of blues and country music lead Federico to the legendary music of Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King, B.B. King and Albert Collins. Natural talent, combined with endless hours of practice, allowed Federico to progress quickly from intimate home performances to large concert in a number of renown clubs in Sardinia, Italy. In 2012, Federico moved to Canada. Soon, Federico was found performing with such great musician as, Jorn Andersen (Alannah Miles), Michael Fonfara (Lou Reed), Al Cross (Big Sugar), Joey Landreth (The Bros. Landreth) and his musical idol Matt Schofield. Federico helped to form a great blues quartet, Sons of Rhythm. Success of this blues outfit was put on display at many music festivals including the Montreal Jazz festival as well the Porto Ferro Bluesunset Festival in Italy. By 2019, Federico began pursuing a solo career. “Walkin’ the Blues”, a seven song album that features guest performers such as Alexis Baro, Anthony Brancati, Joey Landreth, Matt Schofield, Alison Young and others, “Walkin’ the Blues” proves to be an explosive mix of Blues, Rock, Jazz and Country music.

Gail Gunnis & The Dirty Roosters | Toronto, ON

The Dirty Roosters lead by powerhouse vocalist Gail Gunnis, seamless blues/gospel fret work Fabio, creative drum fills Duncan, sexy smooth horn lines Paul, and the fabulous steady groove bass and key work Michael together create an original soulful feel to every tune! Toronto based, seasoned musicians, with a passion for blues & R&B!

Josh Ritchie | Wiarton, QC

Josh Ritchie is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer based in Ontario. Having grown up in the Canadian music scene with a family of music teachers, performers and songwriters, Ritchie has had music in his soul since day one. From the moment he was able to stand Ritchie has been playing anything he can get his hands on. His love for music quickly became an addiction giving the up and coming 20-year-old musical chops and an artistic maturity beyond his age. Then came the voice, quickly developing in choirs and music classes, now having a seemingly endless range and power. Ritchie can go from an intimate whisper to a boisterous roar with unequalled effect. In early 2019 Ritchie took to the studio to record his debut, self produced record “Louder.” The album was released to a sold out crowd on August 24th, 2019. The title track Louder was voted on the top 100 list in the 2020 CBC Music Searchlight competition.

Madison Galloway | Fergus, ON

Madison Galloway is an emerging voice in Canadian roots music hailing from small town Fergus, Ontario. She takes the stage with her band, switching it up between acoustic, electric and slide guitars, harmonica, ukulele and more, charming audiences with their refreshing original tunes in a high-energy show! Blending influences from folk, rock and blues, they reach back to pay homage to the great artists of the past while forging a sound all their own; at times gritty and groovy, and others sweet and sunny. Performing at prominent festivals including Mariposa Folk Festival, Riverfest Elora, and RBC Bluesfest and sharing the stage with renowned artists such as 54-40, Ron Hawkins (Lowest of the Low), Tyler Shaw, and Colter Wall, they’re making a name as a must-see act. And with Galloway’s first full-length album “Moon & Mercury” out now, they’re just getting started!

Mike Nagoda & The Spectrum Blues Band | Toronto, ON

Mike Nagoda is a Disabled Toronto LGBTQ Blues musician. Born with Cerebral Palsy, Mike struggled to play guitar in the conventional manner until he discovered legendary Toronto Bluesman Brian Cober at Grossman’s Tavern, who invented the art of Double Slide Guitar. Mike eventually approached Brian to teach him this system and Mr. Cober became Mike’s friend and mentor until his passing in 2016. Mike now proudly carries on Mr. Cober’s legacy to a new generation with the Double Slide Guitar.

Mike released his first album “Parliament” in 2014 with Grammy winning label Ropeadope Records and his sophomore album “Outside the Box”, co-produced with Juno winning producer Chris Birkett, is currently in post production and is scheduled for release in 2021. As one of the few openly Queer male Blues artists in the modern Blues scene, Mike seeks to increase visibility for both queer men and disabled people through his music. Backed by the Spectrum Blues Band, Mike brings his brand of soulful, progressive queer electric Blues to the delight of audiences everywhere.

Shakey Trill | Saugeen Shores, ON

Shakey Trill is an original, gutsy and raw blues/folk duo from Saugeen Shores, Canada. Shakey was a nickname given to guitarist/vocalist Mike MacDonald because of his extremely jittery hands. Harmonica player/vocalist Tyler Pantlin can’t get enough of playing the Trill it is the sound of two notes being played rapidly back and forth. In January 2019 the duo participated at the 35th International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee representing the Bruce County Blues Society. The challenge was a week long event with performances up and down the famous Beale Street. They were part of the solo/duo category which included over 80 different acts from around the globe. Shakey Trill made it into the final top 8 spots which earned them the privilege to play at the historic Orpheum Theatre in Memphis. Currently the duo are in the process of recording their debut album.



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


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
2003 Dylan Wickens Band
2004 – Bharath & the Catfish
2005 – Wickens/Knight
2006 The Undesirables
2007 – Douglas Watson R&B Revue
2009 catl.
2010The 24th Street Wailers
2011Bradleyboy Mac Arthur
2012Irene Torres & The Sugar Devils
2013Sugar Brown
2014The Conor Gains Band
2015Michael Schatte
2016Spencer MacKenzie
2017Dan McKinnon
2018Bywater Blues
2019Sandra Bouza




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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.