BLUES SOURCE # 27
By Ken Wallis, Blues & Roots Radio
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Have Yourself a Bluesy Christmas
When we met in our last blog, I wished you all season’s greetings, and stated it was my last blog till the New Year. As they say, the best made plans…..
So, I lasted a couple of days without working on a blog but I’m back in the saddle again ‘cause there’s lots to talk about.
Celebrating with Steve Strongman’s Christmas Concert
I attended Steve Strongman’s annual Christmas Concert in Hamilton and boy was it a Celebration. This was Steve’s 8th Annual Christmas Concert and let me tell you, every year it just gets better and better.
Steve’s talent has garnered him multiple Maple Blues awards and nominations, plus a Juno award and a second Juno nomination.
Steve’s new cd, No Time Like Now has been met with rave reviews as he explores new directions in his music. Make sure you grab a copy cause it’s a goodie!
No doubt his music is a standout, but there’s a lot more to Steve than just his music. He puts on an energetic stage performance that always features a smile that says he’s loving what he does. Throw in a twinkle in the eye and you know this man was made to perform.
Steve can hold an audience like few others, but he loves to share the spotlight with other gifted musicians. His Christmas show featured an array of special guest artists.
First to the stage was keyboardist Jesse O’Brien, which just goes to prove that talent does run in the family as Jesse is Steve’s cousin. Jesse is part of Colin James’ band and plays keys on Colin’s Maple Blues nominated cd, Blue Highway. When he sits down at the keys you know he’s ready to rock and he did just that at the Christmas concert. Not only did he play keys, but he also took the lead singing several songs during the show.
Then it was time to mix in some great sax with the band, and Darcy Hepner filled the bill marvellously. Darcy has a ton of credits to his name on numerous cds and played sax with Blood Sweat and Tears. Principally known as a jazz swinger, Darcy spread his wings into Steve’s blues world. I’ve known Darcy for a ton of years, and I’m proud to say that we worked together in the academic world. But boy oh boy did he let loose at this concert.
One of the highlights of the evening, was a jam session with Steve and Darcy. Steve would play a riff on guitar and Darcy would match on sax. It was simply breath-taking.
Just when you think it can’t get any better, it does! Suzie Vinnick joined in the fun.
Suzie Vinnick is a fireball that uncorks a wonderful voice matched by her mastery of the guitar. She’s a Ten Time Maple Blues Award winner. Did that sink in? TEN TIMES! She’s also a Three Time Juno Nominee and she’s about to release her 6th studio album in the new year.
One of my favourite tunes of all time is on Steve’s Album, Natural Fact. It’s a duet with Steve and Suzie entitled Leaving, and I was thrilled when they kicked off her set by performing the song.
Suzie just kept on wowing the audience with her talent and the dancers couldn’t stay seated.
And by the way, you can catch Suzie at Hugh’s Room Live in Toronto on December 29.
Here a few more random pictures from the evening.
Of note, this was one of the last concerts to be held at Bay City Hall. I have to acknowledge the great talent of the late Tava Tunes. He started up the Sunday afternoon blues at Bay City many years ago. I did a radio interview to help him promote the first show, and I was at the first ever one. Besides my wife and I, I don’t think there were ten people there. But Tava persisted and turned it into a Sunday afternoon tradition with a great crowd.
The last ever concert at Bay City will be New Year’s Eve with Jack de Keyzer. A fitting close with a Canada’s ambassador of the blues.
Enjoy New Year’s – here’s a re-cap of what’s going on.
I’m sure there are a ton more across the country. Check your local information sites for shows and attend a live music event to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Keep listening to Blues and Roots Radio for Blues Blast. Coming up in the New Year, we’ll features new singles from Dylan Paul Wickens and Dan Doiron. Plus, we’ll highlight a new release from Coote’s Paradise.
Hendrix New Year
One of my all time favourite albums is Band of Gypsys, recorded New Year’s Eve 1969 at the Fillmore East.
Hendrix is joined by Buddy Miles and Buddy Cox for what I consider the best ever. The best ever live recording. The best ever album release. Whatever, I just love this music.
I’d like to share and pass on what Jimi says before he plays Machine Gun.
JIMI: “Happy New Year’s first of all. Hope you have about a million or two million more of them”
I had to pull out the album to make sure I had the wording correct. And now my headset is filled with the Band of Gypsys. So, I’m off to Hendrix land.
Cya in 2018.