By Ken Wallis, Blues & Roots Radio
firstname.lastname@example.org | Facebook | Twitter | Blues Source Entertainment
Well now that I’m a seasoned blogger for Blues and Roots Radio, having posted a grand total of one blog, I’m now ready to roll up my sleeves and get down to some serious work.
I’ll be highlighting Hamilton and the Niagara Peninsula. Why you may ask? Cause I grew up in St. Catharines and now I live in Hamilton. Nah that’s only a partial reason. The main reason is because there’s a bucket load of blues going on in this area. But we’ll jump around the country like a blues-loving kangaroo. But that’ll have to wait a week or two cause we got some great stuff going on.
So here I am in Hamilton, Ontario. This city has become a fertile ground for blues music. This rich history of the blues was developed by a legacy of Canada’s best blues players including Jackie Washington, Brian Griffith, King Biscuit Boy, Sonny Del Rio, Rita Chiarelli, Jack de Keyzer, Harrison Kennedy, Andre Bisson, The Smoke Wagon Blues Band, Trickbag, and Steve Strongman to name a few.
And a blast from the past is giving me the blues goosebumps
Oh my, my pulse is pulsating. There’s a new cd release of Richard Newell, aka King Biscuit Boy, entitled the Lost Session 1981. The tapes were discovered after a renovation at Grant Avenue Studios in Hamilton and lovingly restored by co-producers, Darcy Hepner and Georgie Fab. In order to restore the quality of the tapes, they had to be baked in an oven. Then they had one pass to transfer it. Thank goodness it worked.
The cd features a horn section, the one and only time Richard put together such a band. Darcy Hepner was called upon to orchestrate the horn sections, and he played sax on many of the songs. And there’s no doubt this is serious stuff when Richard exclaims “Hey everybody Mr Biscuit’s in town”
Richard Newell, aka King Biscuit Boy, was born in Hamilton, Ontario. Legend has it, confirmed by Georgie Fab, that he got his start in music by stealing his first harmonica from a joke shop near his home on the Hamilton Mountain
King Biscuit Boy was Ronnie Hawkins's backing band. Newell's stage name, given to him by Ronnie was taken from the King Biscuit Time, an early American blues broadcast. After one LP and several U.S. appearances, Hawkins fired the entire band in early 1970 . The members, including Richard, formed their own band, which they named Crowbar. Newell recorded an album with Crowbar, then embarked on a solo career, frequently returning to play with Crowbar and other Canadian legends like Jack de Keyzer.
King Biscuit Boy was the first Canadian blues artist to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. As much as he played guitar and sang, it was his harmonica playing that attracted legions of fans. The man could blow a harp like few others and amazingly he was self-taught.
Seven solo albums followed, along with two Juno nominations. Newell fought repeated battles with alcohol abuse throughout his life and the stories of his partying are part of the legend of King Biscuit Boy. He played hard and lived hard.
His last album in early 2003 was a collaboration with saxophonist Sonny Del-Rio, a former Crowbar bandmate and long-standing friend, entitled Two Hound Blues
After his death, the first annual "Blues with a Feeling" benefit show was launched. The show was successful and "The Friends of Richard Newell" have held one every year since, with the money raised going to a music scholarship fund at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. Facebook
Canal Bank Shuffle News
The City of Thorold, under the guidance of its Canada 150 committee, has teamed up with the Canal Bank Shuffle Blues Festival Committee and turned Canada Day into a 3-day musical celebration!
Blues on the Battlefield will run in the Battle of Beaverdams Park, Sunday July 2 and Monday July 3. There will be a $5 a day admission charge to the Blues Festival portion of the weekend. It will augment the Canada Day Celebrations running in the park on Saturday July 1.
Thorold will be the first Canadian town to host two blues festivals in one year! ( at least as far as we know). Appearing over the 3 days will be the Jennie Thai Band, Selwyn Birchwood, and David Rotuno.
Food trucks will be on site all weekend. And of course there’s the obligatory beer tent an
it all happens rain or shine with tents provided.
But of course, the Canal Bank Shuffle folks never rest on their laurels. The Ghost Town Blues Band returns to Thorold on July 14th on their way to headlining the Mont Tremblant Blues Festival. This high-energy band is a must see.
Rock the Park 4 Jesse and All Murdered Victims
A very special event is happening in Freelton , organized by Mary Kovacs, who’s brother Jesse was murdered in 2011.
I’ve been fortunate this past month to catch two live performances by Angel Forrest and they were knockouts. She’s Canada’s premiere vocalist who’s won the female blues vocalist of the year at the Maple Blues Awards. Not once. Not twice. Not thrice (is that a real word?) But 4 times. In a row. Is that a four-peat?
You have to see/hear her in a live performance. If it’s with a full electric band or an acoustic trio, you won’t believe your ears.
She can belt out the blues with passion and a voice that reaches to the skies. When you attend an Angel Concert expect your hairs to stand up on end. She sings, swirls and dances her way into your heart and soul. You can’t help but be a fan of Angel.
She’s going on tour soon. You can catch her across Canada, in the U.S. and even in France
T.B.S. Talent Search Winner
A quick shout out to Dan McKinnon, winner of the Toronto Blues Society’s Talent Search. We always knew he was As Sharp As Possible.
Much More to Come Next Week!
By Ken Wallis, Blues & Roots Radio
email@example.com | Facebook | Twitter | Blues Source Entertainment
Why me ?
I was once taught to never start off with a question. So now that I’ve broken one rule, I’m all set to break a bunch more as I deliver my first blog to Blues and Roots Radio.
But I digress. To answer why me is simple. I love the blues. I love listening to the blues. I love going to live blues shows. I love hosting a radio show that features Canadian blues artists. Cause Canadian blues artists are among the best in the world. And now I love blogging about the blues on Blues and Roots Radio’s web site.
So here I go jumping feet first into the wonderful world of blues music, and most of my blogs will highlight happenings in my home turf of Hamilton and the Niagara Peninsula. But fasten your seat belts, I may jump all over Canada with blues and information.
Where Do I Start?
That thought kept chasing me around and around. As my former writing teacher told me, ‘ write about what you know ’. So here goes.
Where To Go In Hamilton / Niagara For The Blues ?
This could end up being a novel. There is so much happening in this area that the mayor of Hamilton declared Hamilton to be the capital of the blues. Ouch ! I can feel a whole bunch of doors slamming shut on my fingers. Hey I didn’t say it. I’m just repeating it. My opinion is that the blues doesn’t belong to one city. It belongs to CANADA! Okay the Delta Blues didn’t start in North Bay or Saskatoon. Our neighbours to the South had the jump on us. But you better believe, Canadian musicians have caught up and feature some of the best talent in the world! No offence to Buddy Guy.
The Mighty Duck Blues Band
One of my favourite blues haunts is with The Mighty Duck Blues Band in the Bar Upstairs in St. Catharines. The band consists of Gary Kendall on bass, Dave Curry on guitar, Canada Dave Torosian on keys, and Jim Casson on drums. Hmmm – why is that the drummer always gets last mention ?... Ask Ringo.
Anyways, the Mighty Duck Blues Band provides the solid background for a plethora of guest artists. ( I get a whole bunch of Words with Friends points by using the word plethora. ) The list of guest artists is immense. Just to give you a taste of some of the featured artists that have appeared: Raoul Bhaneja, Harpdog Brown, Jack de Keyzer, Andre Bisson, Chuck Jackson, Spencer McKenzie, Steve Strongman, Erin McCallum, Cheryl Lescom, Bill Durst, Dawn Tyler Watson, Lance Anderson, Jerome Godboo, Jake Chisholm, Michael Shatte, Al Lerman, Carlos Del Junco, Robin Banks, Chris Antonik just to name a few. Whew I’m outta breath. The list goes on and on.
And the cost to see these shows ? ...Nada.... Buy a beer, eat some delicious grub and you have an afternoon of blues delight. Got you hooked ? You’re gonna hate me 'cause the season is over. The Mighty Duck Blues Band takes the summer off but will return in the fall. Joel Johnson kicks it off September 23rd followed by Jack de Keyzer on September 30th
The Bar Upstairs is located at 16 Melbourne Ave., St. Catharines, Ontario
But now that we’re in Duckland, I need to mention The Mighty Duck Blues Band is in the process of recording their first CD, with a whole bunch of special guests. Gary Kendall says the cd should be out in August. The band has started a crowd funding opportunity at https://www.gofundme.com/themightyduckbluesbandrecordingfund
Bay City Music Hall - 50 Leander Drive, Hamilton, Ontario
One of the more popular Hamilton venues is at Bay City Music Hall. Sunday afternoons feature a house band led by Brant Parker on guitar and vocals, keys from the Groove Doctor, Dave McMorrow, Alan Duffy on bass, Bill Molinaty on sax, and Sean O’Grady on drums.
Each week features a guest artist and if you love to dance, this is the place to break out the dancing shoes. A mere $7 gets you admission and you can count on a Sunday afternoon of great blues. We’ll bring you a list of upcoming artists in the near future.
A Tip Of The Blues Fedora For The Most Unique Blues Venue
Mississippi Queen Foods
Connie Rouble, aka the Mississippi Queen, features intimate Southern Supper Events with a set Southern menu, paired with the masters of blues and American roots musicians.
It’s an intimate evening with about 20 seats per event with authentic southern style food. It’s virtually a family affair as platters of delicious food are passed around the room to be enjoyed as some of the best blues musicians perform up close and personal for you. And by the way, Mississippi Queen Foods in now licensed. You can’t go wrong when he likes of Steve Strongman play right before your table. [Steve pic]
Upcoming shows feature The Vaudevillian on Thursday July 6th to celebrate the release of their new cd and vinyl. Chris Chambers on July 12th, The Fraser Melvin Band, July 20th. And then Hamilton’s own Harrison Kennedy drops by on Thursday July 27th. Harrison won the Juno Award in 2016 for Blues Album of the Year and he’ll feature tunes from his latest release Who U Tellin ?
But there’s more… Ginger St. James & Snowheel Slim, on August 3rd, Julian Fauth, August 10th, Steve Payne & Paul Hobday ( U.K.) , as a duo, on August 17th. Maple Blues awards winner Spencer Mackenzie on August 30th And then David Vest will be the guest on Wednesday September 20th. , ,. Raoul Bhaneja & Darren Gallen, on September 28th.
Wow what a list – but there’s more. Mississippi Queen Foods on September 24th will start something new - , – the ‘ Supper shows ' will take place during a ' Sunday brunch ' time slot. Ragwax will be the first guest.
Mississippi Queen Foods is located at 635 King Street East Hamilton.
Featured Upcoming Blues Event
The Royal Botanic Gardens
Burlington presents Cool Blues on Wednesdays in Hendrie Park, Blackburn, nominated for a Juno, and Angel Forrest, multiple Maple Blues Award winner have already appeared but the talent just keeps on coming.
The Paul DesLauriers Band, fresh off 4 Maple Blues Awards will appear Wednesday July 12
Six Nation’s guitar Slinger Joel Johnson will be there July 26
Maple Blues New Talent winner Spencer MacKenzie is there August 16, and songstress Andria Simone takes the stage on August 30. September 6th wraps it up with Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar.
Admission to the RBG gets you admission to the concerts and while you’re there enjoy some great food.
Well there you have it – my first blog for Blues And Roots Radio. But wait there’s way more coming in the future.
Next week’s blog will feature an amazing piece of blues music history !