Archive for Blues

Eilen Jewell

Wednesday, July 24, 2019 | 8:30pm

Eilen Jewell
Advance $25.00 / Door: $30.00

Eilen Jewell laughs when told her label’s president called her a musicologist. But she confirms she and her husband and bandmate, drummer Jason Beek, have a passion for studying American music.

“We really love to uncover the past. It’s almost like digging for buried treasure,” she says. “For me, that’s where music is at. I like all kinds of music as long as there’s the word ‘early’ in front of it.” For her new album, Down Hearted Blues, released Sept. 22, 2017 on Signature Sounds, she and Beek unearthed 12 vintage gems written or made famous by an array of artists both renowned and obscure, from Willie Dixon and Memphis Minnie to Charles Sheffield and Betty James. Then, like expert stonecutters, they chiseled them into exciting new shapes and forms, honoring history while breathing new life into each discovery.

Known for what allmusic.com describes as a “country-flavored and blues-infused version of contemporary folk (which also can include healthy doses of rockabilly and surf),” Jewell’s discography includes several albums of original material and one of Loretta Lynn covers. Jewell has also recorded two albums with her eight-piece gospel-group side project the Sacred Shakers. But this latest effort, which she and Beek co-produced, with engineering by pianist/banjo player Steve Fulton and Pat Storey, is her first collection of blues — despite the fact that she credits the genre for igniting her musical curiosity in the first place.

That’s because, even though she’s dreamed of recording a blues album since discovering Howlin’ Wolf as a Boise, Idaho, teen, Jewell had to convince herself she could — and should.

“I’ve always had this sense of self-doubt about it,” she admits. “Like, who am I to sing the blues? I’m a white girl from Idaho. I don’t know if I have a right to do that.” But she also remembers an old friend’s advice: “Everyone has the right to do what they love in this world, regardless of who they are and what background they come from.”

Finally, she tired of waging her internal battle and decided to let the “do what you love” side win. It was a wise choice — particularly because she’s hardly appropriating or imitating anyone’s style; on the contrary, Jewell makes each song her own, while paying homage to her beloved inspirations. It also should be noted that American blues music, like its country of origin, is a melting pot of influences, and that all music evolves from what came before — and that, by recording these songs, she’s helping to strengthen the legacy of those who created and popularized them.

Some of them she heard while listening to her husband’s Radio Boise show, Spoonful. The pair also cite John Funke’s Backwoods, on Cambridge’s WMBR-FM, as a source of discovery. In fact, the couple’s mutual attraction to musical obscurities led directly to their relationship. A friend who knew of their common interest made the introduction, correctly guessing they’d hit it off.

That happened in Boston, where Jewell lived for nine years after leaving Boise to attend college in Santa Fe, New Mexico, then migrating to Los Angeles and finally, to the East Coast. Jumping into Boston’s roots-music scene, she began hunting for a guitarist. Beek pointed her to Jerry Miller, a bona-fide Boston legend known for his versatility. They’ve been playing together ever since; she chose some Down Hearted Blues tracks, such as “Crazy Mixed Up World,” a Dixon tune recorded by Little Walter, and Albert Washington’s “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” to showcase Miller.

On the latter, his notes bend around her supple, dramatic minor-key vocals, which slide in after a punchy sax and bass intro. Jewell, who titled a previous album Queen of the Minor Key, says its “scary, creepy” tone fit right in with so many songs they’ve done, it already felt like an old friend the first time she heard it. That horn, by the way, comes courtesy of Curtis Stigers, a fellow Boisean who had several soul hits before segueing into jazz. A fan who pumps her music through the PA before his own shows, he also sits in with her band when they’re both in town. (Jewell and Beek moved to Boise in 2012 to be closer to her family and start their own.)

“He played with us at a local festival and we loved what he did so much we asked him, very spur of the moment, to come to the studio and record with us. He literally dropped what he was doing and said, ‘I’ll be there in 15 minutes,’” she recalls, marveling about how he created a horn section with overdubs — chartless, on songs he’d never heard.

He’s also on “You Know My Love,” another Dixon tune popularized by Otis Rush. Jewell’s torchy rendition emphasizes its spooky message: “You think you’re gonna get on with your life, but there’s this thing between us that will never die; it’s always gonna come back and haunt you.

Laughing, she says, “I can definitely attest to that being a real thing in life.”

Other picks, such as Dixon’s “You’ll Be Mine,” have a more personal connection. She came to it through Howlin’ Wolf, whom she found while rooting through her dad’s garage-stashed album collection. The minute she heard him, she says, “I knew what I was supposed to be listening to.”

By then, she had absorbed the classics — Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Doors — and noticed her favorite rockers had something in common: they were influenced by early blues artists. Down the rabbit hole she went, finding Bessie Smith, represented here via the Lovie Austin and Alberta Hunter-penned title tune Smith turned into a hit, then Memphis Minnie (“Nothing in Rambling”) and “Big” Maybelle Smith (“Don’t Leave Poor Me”).

“I’m always drawn toward anything that women accomplish in the musical world, especially of previous eras,” Jewell says. “It was amazing that women could do anything back then, when it was so frowned upon.”

Jewell, who also plays guitar and Hammond organ on these tracks, claims she’d be happy singing nothing but Big Maybelle songs — if they weren’t such a heavy vocal workout. On the propulsive “Don’t Leave Poor Me” she practically dares her voice to leap up high and swoop down low before stepping aside for the pulsating guitar-and-percussion bridge.

Her easy glide from note to note on the back-porch picker “Nothing in Rambling” contrasts with that style — and with lyrics expressing the difficulties of life on the road (a life that now includes daughter Mavis, already a world traveler at age 3) — further highlighting the smooth/raw dichotomy inherent not only to this album, but the genre itself.

While Jewell doesn’t exhibit whiskey-scratched vocal tendencies, she can certainly make a gutbucket lose some splinters — or beguile with silky sexiness. It’s as if she’s doing a one-woman play, slipping into a different persona with each song — a feat that becomes even more impressive when she reveals these tracks were recorded in only two days, live, and that Miller and upright bass player Shawn Supra hadn’t even heard some of them beforehand. That’s how spontaneous it actually was. They just happened to book some studio time during a free day in Boise, and had so much fun playing these songs they decided to make an album.

“It really felt serendipitous, like what was supposed to happen was happening,” Jewell says. “I finally gave myself permission to do what I wanted to do, and the universe supported me.”

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HRL Guitar Week Presents: Hurricane Ruth + Scott Holt

Sunday, July 14, 2019 | 8:30PM

HRL Guitar Week Presents: Hurricane Ruth and Scott Holt
Advance: $25.00 / Doors: $30.00

“Hurricane Ruth has a voice that just moves your soul on so many levels. Quite frankly there are few singers who could match Hurricane Ruth at her powerful best!” – Peter Merrett, PBS

LaMaster earned her “Hurricane” nickname because people had difficulty believing that her powerhouse vocals could be coming out of such a small woman.  Ruth grew up in Beardstown, IL. Her father’s Glendale Tavern was her music school. “The bar featured live blues, jazz, and all kinds of music. My dad was a drummer. At age three, I was sitting on his lap keeping time on the ride cymbal, while he played, during Sunday jam sessions” LaMaster said.

LaMaster has performed with John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Taj Mahal, the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Sam & Dave, Fenton Robinson, Maynard Ferguson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Royal Southern Brotherhood, and Ronnie Baker Brooks.  Her vocals are deeply rooted in traditional blues, but she can also rock the house. LaMaster has opened for Heart, Judas Priest, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, and Steppenwolf, to name a few.

Blues great, Willie Dixon, once called her “the only hurricane I can appreciate.” She’s got the power of Big Mama Thornton, the fire of Janis Joplin, the boundless stage energy of Tina Turner, and soulfulness of Aretha Franklin all rolled into a petite package.

“You’re the only hurricane I can appreciate.” – Willie Dixon

Scott Holt
The American South has an incredibly rich musical legacy, bearing witness to the birth of
Jazz, Rock, Country and of course, The Blues. Singer/Guitarist/Entertainer/Songwriter Scott Holt has been carrying the Blues torch for his entire career. Born and raised primarily in Tennessee, he and his family also made homes in Texas and Mississippi. The lanky, tattooed Tennessean was “touring before I knew it was called touring! My family moved a lot when I was little so I’ve lived all over the place.” After beginning his musical journey at 19 years old, Holt jumped on the fast-track by joining his friend and mentor Buddy Guy in 1989.

Holt’s first step towards musical apprenticeship came when his father took him to a Tampa, FL club to hear bluesmen Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. “I’d never been in a club before or heard anything like Buddy Guy and Junior Wells,” Holt recounts. After a backstage meeting, the young student and venerable master stayed in touch. Over the next year or so Holt was invited on stage to jam with Guy, including the first night his new club Legends opened to the public in Chicago during the Bluesfest weekend and then one day Guy called to invite Holt into his band. “I’d never even been in a band before,” Holt says. “so all of a sudden, there I am at 20, leaving home for Chicago with my guitar, my amp, a suitcase and my passport. I had no idea of when or even if I was ever coming back home.”

Holt was at Guy’s side for a decade. “Before I started making a little money, I would sometimes sleep on the pool table at Legends. I always thought with all the “ghost-notes” floating around in there from Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Albert Collins and of course from Buddy, that maybe I would soak it up in my sleep! I learned so much from Buddy. He never seemed to get tired of my questions, and I asked a lot! He is one my heroes and one of my dearest friends, all at the same time. To this day, what he can do never ceases to amaze me.” And Guy remains an enthusiastic supporter of Holt. “He’s an automatic. He’s good! Every time I hear (Scott) I hear some improvement he’s made…”

In addition to his tenure with Buddy Guy , which included recording the GRAMMY winning record Slippin’ In, 2 appearances on Austin City Limits, an appearance in the major motion picture THINGS TO DO IN DENVER, Holt’s 7 solo records’ have established him not only as a six-string virtuoso but also as a penetrating and soulful storyteller. Holt calls it “creating a soulful communion; getting to a place where the sound that my band and I make are like an embrace; warm, human and uncorrupted by technology.” Through the countless hours and miles on the road, Scott has developed a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts in the world.
Scott’s has a saying; LOUD IS GOOD. He explains his philosophy this way; “When I talk about ‘loud is good’, I’m not talking about turning everything up – it’s not necessarily high volume. It’s about more of a ‘spiritual loudness’ or ‘intenseness’ something that is felt as well as heard. Not something to be shrill or hurt someone’s ears but something they can feel inside!”

The spirituality of music is an important aspect of who Scott is as an artist. “So often music is treated as something that’s disposable, or as a tool to sell jeans or beer. Music is more than that. Music is one of God’s great gifts to us. It’s a unique language that transcends borders and barriers. It transcends cultures and customs and allows us too communicate with each other at the level of our hearts instead of our minds. My goal, as an artist, is not only to entertain but to enlighten and inspire.”

Aside from Buddy Guy, Scott’s single biggest musical influence is Jimi Hendrix. “I didn’t hear Jimi’s music until I was 19 but from that moment on I knew where I was headed.” he recalls. “I begged my parents for a guitar and they gave me one for Christmas.” With the help of a Hendrix-savvy instructor Holt was on his way, developing the rudiments of his style. You can hear echoes of Hendrix’s stinging vibrato and wah-soaked stringing in all of Scott’s work. Scott even had the opportunity to record with Hendrix’s last band, Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell on his second record, Dark Of The Night. “That record was a highlight for me!” Eddie Kramer (former Hendrix engineer) produced the disc and it even features Scott, Mitch and Billy doing a version of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return). “After we recorded it I asked Mitch when he last played that song and he said ’30 years ago’ with Jimi! I’ll always be proud of that.”

While blues remains at the core of his being, he is constantly evolving and exploring as an artist. He reflects, “I am a bluesman through and through. It’s just who I am when recording or performing. It has been an affirmation over the years as I play my music for audiences and have them receive it and embrace it as enthusiastically as the music of the Masters that we play. If you listen,” Holt continues, “you’ll always hear the blues in the foundation of my playing, but my mentors and guides, the greatest bluesmen, like Buddy, B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, were always changing, experimenting and evolving. I’ve tried to maintain that philosophy and attitude towards my own music, just create the music and let people call it what they want.”

Scott most recently co-wrote and played guitar on the latest Foghat release; the Tom Hambridge produced – UNDER THE INFLUENCE as well as singing on two tracks, including the first single; UPSIDE OF LONELY. In addition, while working with Roger Earl and Bryan Bassett of Foghat, the three decided that they were having so much fun playing together that they should form another band! They began writing additional material and rearranging their favorite songs from other artists and christened the project EARL & THE AGITATORS. They released an Earl & the Agitators EP in early 2017 and are planning on releasing a complete album in the future.

Scott has recorded and/or performed with B.B. King, Albert Collins, Junior Wells,John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, Foghat, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Eric Johnson, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Buddy Miles, David Bowie, Double Trouble, Doyle Bramhall II, Joe Louis Walker, Lonnie Brooks, Chris Duarte, Albert King, Steve Miller, Larry Coryell, Larry Mitchell, & Little Feat, among others.

Scott has performed at The Chicago Blues Fest, The Windsor International Blues Fest, The Ottawa Blues Fest, The London Blues Fest, The Mt. Baker Blues Fest, The Mont Tremblant Blues Fest, The Eureka Springs Blues Fest, The Bayfront Blues Fest, to name a few.

Scott has appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Conan Obrien, Austin City Limits, The Jon Stewart Show, Good Morning America and many more.

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Chris Antonik

Chris Antonik
$20 Advance / $25 Door

Thursday, June 20, 2019 | 8:30PM

Toronto-based Chris Antonik was nominated for Best New Artist in 2011 at Canada’s Maple Blues Awards after the release of his debut album, and has since become one of Canada’s fastest-rising blues artists. Blending innovative, thoughtful songwriting with stunning blues guitar work, some music critics have drawn comparisons to Eric Clapton.

In its 2010 year-end review, Chris was named the “future of the blues” by Canada’s Blues Underground Network. In 2013, Chris’ sophomore album Better for You was hailed by critics as “a masterpiece” and “the best Canadian blues-rock album of 2013” and “the sound of someone taking the blues to a new place.

The album spent three weeks at #1 on DAWG FM (Canada’s only all blues FM station), attained significant airplay across Canada, the US and Europe, including on Sirius XM Bluesville, and was nominated for Best Blues Album by the German Record Critics’ Association. Oregon’s Cascade Blues Association called it “one of the finest releases from the Great White North in many a year.

Guests on Better For You included two-time Grammy award-winner Mike Mattison (The Derek Trucks Band, The Tedeschi-Trucks Band), Blues Music award-nominee Shakura S’Aida, and Steve Marriner (Monkey Junk).

Chris has performed at major blues festivals across Canada, and has toured the US extensively, including performances at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago (for the 2015 Buddy Guy’s Legends Blues Festival), and Biscuits & Blues in San Francisco. In 2016, Chris returned to Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago, and also undertook his first UK tour. Chris released his third studio record “Monarch” in April 2017, which was nominated fro Recording of the Year (and Chris as producer) at the 2018 Maple Blues Awards. Chris was also nominated for Songwriter of the Year.

​In 2018, Chris undertook his second successful UK tour, which included a sold-out appearance at the O2 Academy in Sheffield. Chris also performed on stage with Buddy Guy at his club in Chicago. Coming up for 2019, Chris returns to his hometown with a special performance at Hugh’s Room Live for a night of blues that shouldn’t be missed. Tickets are on sale now.

* Please note that advertised pricing excludes taxes and ticketing fees.

Christine Campbell and Braden Gates

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 | 8:30PM

BRADEN GATES

With the release of his fourth album Pictures of UsBRADEN GATES has proven himself to be deserving of a wider audience and worthy of the attention he’s received in five short years as a performer. Writing layered songs that bounce from those that brim with emotional depth and stark imagery to those that find the humour in life, Gates has quickly created a body of work that is impressive for its sheer volume. More importantly, his growing audience is moved by the poignancy and the poetic turns that bind his material. The touchstones of his talents are many and his influences run from traditional roots music to contemporary singer-songwriters, many of whom he continues to study.

Gates is no hummer and strummer as his guitar playing can earn him as much praise on a given night as the songs that his playing cradles. His foundation came from his father’s love for, and talent as an old-time fiddler. Music is in Gates’ DNA and his early memories of being moved by music are the strong melodies which he would fall asleep to, sometimes as a child nestled side stage or in the kitchen of a funky prairie community hall. Fast forward to his late teens and Gates was impressing audiences with his songs plus a stage demeanour that hangs on a quick wit and a sly grin. In short order Gates was playing roots music haunts like The Blue Chair and the Uptown Folk Club in Edmonton while accepting sought after gigs at regional festivals like Pembina River Nights and the Beaumont Blues Festival. He was invited to play the prestigious Edmonton Folk and Vancouver Island Music Festivals before hitting his 22nd birthday.

Gates has benefitted in his musical education from mentors such as Miles Wilkinson, who produced some of Guy Clark’s best work (Boats to Build & Dublin Blues.) Wilkinson, who has worked closely with Gates on previous studio outings, says, “that his obvious writing and performing talents, stand beside his understanding of roots, in older acoustic music. That’s a rare thing for a young musician. His heroes are Clark, John Hartford, and Townes Van Zandt, all great singing story tellers. And I feel Braden is destined to join them.” High praise indeed.

With talent and dedication to his craft, it is no surprise that Gates was nominated for the 2017 ‘Emerging Artist of the Year’ and ‘Contemporary Album of the Year’ at the Canadian Folk Music Awards – his showcase performance at that event created buzz. With a new album set for release in 2018 on Canada’s premier folk / roots label Borealis Records, this inspired singer-songwriter is destined to win over new audiences at every opportunity.

Christine Campbell
Advance: $15.00 / Doors: $20.00

Christine Campbell launched her second album, Roller Coaster, in March 2017. It is a true representation of her diverse influences – from hard rock and 70’s rock to roots and blues. Christine has attracted top-calibre artists like Jeff Burrows of The Tea Party to add their musical talent to the songs. And Classified’s co-writing and co-production pumps up the radio-ready element. Roller Coaster offers a narrative of a small town Prince Edward Island girl who has become a powerful performer, known for her unapologetic mastery of guitar, piano and rock vocals.

“I’m married to music. It is my life.”

As a musician dedicated to her craft, discerning fans are thrilled by Christine’s live shows, offering a unique mix of old and new original songs in each performance, as well as a bonus cover or two from her rock heroes and impressive jams and solos. Whether playing intimate acoustic shows with her wingman, Blake Johnston (formerly of The Stogies), or rockin’ out, fully electric with her five-piece band, Christine’s live performances always attract loyal fans.

Since her first self-titled solo project in 2013, Christine has gained a devoted following, with the attention earning her opening spots for Bob Seger, Steve Earle, Jann Arden and Lou Gramm of Foreigner. After a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2016, she was able to gather the resources and support necessary to produce this album and make it her proudest work to date.

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Steve Hill

Sunday, June 9, 2019 | 8:30PM

Steve Hill
Advance: $20.00 / Doors: $25.00

2015 JUNO AWARD WINNER FOR BLUES ALBUM OF THE YEAR
2015 MAPLE BLUES AWARD WINNER FOR ELECTRIC ACT OF THE YEAR
2015 GUITARIST OF THE YEAR
2015 RECORDING/PRODUCER OF THE YEAR
2015 ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR

When it comes to one-man bands, guitarist and singer extraordinaire Steve Hill has no limits. The truest definition of a one-man band; Hill performs standing up while singing and playing guitar, his feet playing bass drum, snare drum, hi-hats and with a drum stick fused to the head of his trusty guitar, any other percussion within reach.

An overnight sensation 20 years in the making, Steve Hill is an ambitious and raucous force to be reckoned with on the Canadian and international blues-rock scene. “The one-man band style has made him the top star in the Canadian blues scene right now.” (Bob Mersereau, CBC) Hill’s reputation as an exciting performer has provided him the opportunity to showcase his talents at some of Canada’s biggest music festivals including the Montreal Jazz Festival, Ottawa Blues Festival, Mont Tremblant International Blues Festival, Thunder Bay Blues Festival, Kitchener Blues Festival and more.

Steve Hill is clearly in his element as a solo artist and one-man band, inviting listeners into a world of musical madness in the form of blues and rock ‘n’ roll.

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STINK LP 50th Gala featuring Mike McKenna

Thursday, June 6, 2019 | 8:30PM

STINK LP 50th Gala featuring Mike McKenna and Swampbusters

Advance $23.00 / Door $26.00 *

Fifty years in, Mike McKenna is continuing to raise a big Stink. Initially released in 1969 on Liberty United Artists Records by Toronto’s McKenna Mendelson Mainline, Stink has carved its own legacy and remained a consistently-selling blues classic throughout its lifespan. Now, the album is being played in its entirety in concert by guitarist McKenna’s current outfit the Slidewinders Blues Band.

“It’s nice to have the longevity,” says McKenna, a veteran of Luke & The Apostles, The Ugly Ducklings and many other legendary Toronto bands throughout the years.

“And it’s great to still be playing the music and having people enjoying it. It’s cool that Stink is still relevant and means something to so many people out there today. It’s a classic album and we’re a classic band and I’ll admit to it, “ he laughs.

Accompanied by Rob Kirkpatrick (Luke & The Apostles) on drums, Hap Roderman (Rough Trade) on bass and Tom Robertson on vocals, guitar, harmonica and slide guitar, McKenna and his own slide will recreate such favourites as “Better Watch Out,” ”Beltmaker” and “T.B. Blues” authentically.

“We do the Stink album as true to the album as possible, “McKenna admits.” It isn’t McKenna Mendelson Mainline, but it’s as close as you’re gonna hear it.”

But Mainline fans don’t only have the Stink album performance to look forward to: McKenna’s Slidewinders also perform selections from the band’s two follow-up albums, 1971’s Our Home and Native Land and 1972’s Bump and Grind Revue.

“It’s not really a tribute,” McKenna insists. “I’m just bringing the music alive again. I also play tribute to some of my blues heroes like Muddy Waters and Sleepy John Estes, Paul Butterfield – lots of different people that still enjoy. It’s a mish-mash of everything but Stink is really a celebration of the music.”

The original Mainline – McKenna, singer Joe Mendelson (later branding himself Mendelson Joe), bassist Mike Harrison and drummer Tony Nolasco – formed in 1968, following an ad that McKenna placed in the Toronto Star.

“The Apostles had broken up and I played with the Ugly Ducklings during the Gaslight period for about a year, toured with them.” McKenna recalls. “I was such a blues hound at the time that I wanted to form a blues band. I put an ad in the newspaper and Joe, among other people called me and said, ‘Don’t you think you’re a little naïve for putting your name in the paper?’ Those were his first words to me and I thought, “I gotta meet this guy.’ The deal was that whatever we did play, we recorded as McKenna Mendelson Blues – and that was done as a bootleg eventually.”

The quartet came to the quick realization that sticking around Canada wouldn’t be the most prudent of career moves.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘If we end up staying in Canada, we’re going to die a musical death here,’” McKenna remembers. “I was all for it – I wanted to go play somewhere. We originally were going to go to LA just like Neil Young and Bruce Palmer did, but we decided to go to England. There was a huge blues boom there and because we were British subjects we could work over there on six-month visas.

“It was quite a culture shock.”

With a few months of landing, Mainline obtained an agent, signed with Liberty United Artists Records and made an immediate impact as a live act in a scene that included John Mayall, Keef Hartley and the Chicken Shack and Fleetwood Mac.

With the astute and humorous pen of Mendelson, Stink was recorded, released and an instant worldwide hit.

“I think we could have all been stand-up comedians at one point, “McKenna admits. “We had great humour in the album – Joe’s writing encompassed lots of humour and lots of human statements. I think the thing was that the music was honest. We didn’t try to put a lot of flash to it, although everybody had their own unique sound. People from Florida to Canada to the UK to Europe always tell me that they like to play the album and just dance around with it.”

The 10-hours of daily rehearsal paid off as Mainline thrilled audiences on the UK club circuit (once opening for Howlin’ Wolf), a festival in Utrecht, Holland (sharing the bill with The Who and

Traffic) and eventually headlining in Australia (Frijid Pink fired them for getting too much applause from concert audiences) and America (getting a standing ovation for their opening slot and impressing The Jeff Beck Group which included singer Rod Stewart).

“When they saw Joe up there screamin’ and yellin’ and jumpin’ at them, they just loved it,” McKenna recalls. “We were very lucky very fortunate and we worked very hard.”

McKenna was also working on developing his own slide technique, one informed by the old blues greats and one that would eventually win admiration from the great Duane Allman.

“The slide guitar was something that I loved more than anything,” McKenna states. “Listening in my early days to Elmore James and Robert Johnson. And in those Stink songs, you can hear some ragtime, a little bit of Howlin’ Wolf, some Muddy Waters- and then you hear Mainline, the accumulation of all these different bands.”

Today, Mike McKenna and the Slidewinders Blues Band are keeping the Stink flame alive, whether it’s playing locally around Toronto or appearing at the Kitchener or Wasaga Beach blues fests.

“I love playing ‘One Way Ticket ‘ – one of my absolute favourites because I get to smoke away on the slide guitar – and of course our signature song, ‘Mainline,’ ‘I Think I’m Losing my Marbles’ and ‘T.B. Blues’ – it just keeps going!

“I love them all and I love playing them – even at my current age of 100 years old,” he quips.

* Advertised pricing excludes tax and ticketing fees.

David Rotundo

Wednesday, June 5, 2019 | 8:30PM

David Rotundo
Advance $40.00 / Door $45.00 *

Toronto blues harpist David Rotundo heard James Cotton perform at the El Mocambo in 1991. “He blew one note on the harmonica that hypnotized me…” The next day, Rotundo went out and bought a harmonica. “…and I’ve been playing the blues ever since.” Obsession with the blues led Rotundo on a diesel-fuelled roots tour of blues epicentres of the United States including – New Orleans, Clarksdale, Austin, Memphis and Chicago with little more than his wits and a bag full of harmonicas. “I wanted to hear and experience the real thing.” He returned to Canada with a visceral perception of the blues and a deep knowledge of blues history. After making the stories his own, he earned the right to tell them. Rotundo has developed his own language of the blues, honing the technique that gives the voice power and authenticity. Proof of his impact shows in the fact that he has been nominated for a Maple Blues Award for 11 consecutive years!

In 1997, Rotundo led a band called The Blue Canadians alongside such notables as Peter Schmidt, Shane Scott, Julian Fauth and Doc MacLean. In 2000, he was asked to join the legendary Jack de Keyzer Band and he was thrilled by the opportunity to play with “one of the best Canadian guitarists”. Aside from de Keyzer, Rotundo has performed with Lee Oskar, Ronnie Hawkins, ex- Muddy Waters drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Madagascar Slim, Mel Brown, Jeff Healey, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Finis Tasby, James Cotton, Magic Slim and The Tear Drops, Elvis Costello, Shakura S’Aida, members of Downchild among many others.

Rotundo’s 2001 debut solo album, “Blowin’ for Broke”, featured twelve original songs written by David and produced by bassist/engineer Shane Scott of Stone Pillar Productions. The album was nominated “Blues Album of 2001″ by the Canadian Independent Artist Association and Rotundo was winner of the Maple Blues Award “Best New Artist of The Year 2002″. In 2003, David returned to Stone Pillar Studios with his newly formed “David Rotundo Band”, resulting in the highly popular, critically acclaimed “Blues Ignited” album featuring international guitarist Enrico Crivellaro. In 2007 Rotundo won the Maple Blues Award for “Harmonica Player of the Year”, an award for which he has been nominated 10 times. After much fan demand, in late 2007, David recorded and released his live album – “Live at Roc ‘N Doc’s” which captured the true essence of the band’s high energy live performance. In 2008 it was considered in the top twenty blues albums released that year by various community radio stations with blues format shows. Rotundo is a songwriter who easily pulls inspiration from the world around him and that is well demonstrated by the twelve new original songs that grace his fourth album “No Looking Back”, which was released in March of 2009 to overwhelming response from fans both new and old, as well as industry, and again features Enrico Crivellaro on guitar. Bright prospects continue to lie on the path ahead, which goes to prove, that for The David Rotundo Band, there really is no looking back…When you see David Rotundo live you’ll know instantly that he lives for what he does!

* Advertised pricing excludes taxes and ticketing fees.

Garrett Mason

Tuesday, June 4, 2019 | 8:30PM

Garrett Mason
Advance: $20.00 / Doors: $25.00

Garrett Mason was raised in Truro, Nova Scotia by his mother Pam, and father, veteran Canadian Bluesman Dutch Mason. His path to become a blues musician started at a very early age; being surrounded by blues music, Garrett’s favorite tapes at 3 years old were Canned Heat and Buddy Rich.

His dad, Dutch Mason, stopped playing guitar before Garrett was born. Although he was not able to teach his son to play, he has certainly been able to teach Garrett the structure of the Blues and to influence him about the resulting sound. Surrounded by his father’s peers, Garrett has had the benefit of hearing and learning from a wide variety of musical talent.

The late Rick Jeffery was a great inspiration to Garrett; they would talk and play for hours together. Rick once said “Garrett is the only guitar player I know that can play Albert Collins’ style down to a T.” The combination of his father’s advice, Jeffery’s guidance and his own natural talents provide that special brew for Garrett to become the musical influence he is destined to be…


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Anthony Gomes

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | 8:30PM

Anthony Gomes

Advance $35.00 / Door $38.00 *

Anthony Gomes, #1 Billboard Blues Artist, is a triple threat force as a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. This, along with his high-energy shows and dynamic stage presence, make him one of the top draws on the Rock/Blues circuit today.

Gomes’ new record Peace, Love & Loud Guitars, named Best Blues Album of 2018 by Blues Rock Review and SoundGuardian Magazine, is the culmination of a life spent honoring Blues traditions while never losing sight of his own identity.  The Toronto-born guitar slinger stands his ground as a creative artist and is eager to push the Blues back into the mainstream.

“My goal is to keep the Blues fresh, exciting and even dangerous,” says Gomes. “I want to bring back the thrill longtime Bluesmen created in their day. At the same time, I think it’s very important for the music to grow and evolve.”

He has performed with the likes of B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Robert Plant, Heart, Sammy Hagar, Joe Bonamassa, .38 Special, Jonny Lang, Robert Cray and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

Gomes recalled a conversation he had years ago with one of those legends. “B.B. King told me the Blues are like the laws of the land. They need to be amended to the times we live in,” Gomes said. “As an artist, it’s very exciting to think that the Blues can be just as groundbreaking today as it ever was.”

Believing that music can inspire the human spirit, Anthony founded the Music Is the Medicine Foundation in 2010. This non-profit organization is dedicated to changing the lives of others through the healing power of music.

Anthony Gomes has nothing left to prove while leaving all his passion on the table. Nonetheless, he continues striving to not only find the legendary “lost chord,” but the ultimate combinations of words, notes and performance. Looking for an actual 21st Century guitar hero? Here he is.

You can get a free album download featuring his hit song “Come Down” and other hit songs from throughout his career at: www.freegomesalbum.com.


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Cootes Paradise

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Coots Paradise
Advance $20 / Door $25 *

2019 Maple Blues Award Nominees, Cootes Paradise is a collective of six musicians who chose to play together based not only on their talents, but who they are as people. The business of music can be a cold and punishing enterprise, so forming a group comprising of kind, enthusiastic, collaborative individuals was the goal that founding member Lily Sazz had in mind when she began to recruit the musicians. The hope was that if these gifted individuals gelled personally, great music would follow. And she was right.

Cootes Paradise specializes in roots based music that is bluesy, funky, and filled with soul. Featuring lead vocals by the legendary Sue Leonard (k.d. lang, Bruce Willis, Bon Jovi), and Wayne Krawchuk (Sidestreet, Tight Little Island) supported by Mark Volkov (a triple threat, playing flute, sax, and violin), Lily Sazz (keyboards, vocals), Amy Di Nino (drums, vocals), and Ian Taylor (bass, vocals), the result is an infectious, groove-based sound with a mix of super cool covers and originals that easily stand up to the rest of the repertoire.

On April 28, catch their debut performance at Hugh’s Room Live. Tickets available right now.

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