By Stevie Connor, Blues & Roots Radio
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Happy Summer Solstice everyone !
Having been brought up in the Celtic traditions of storytelling, oral history, music, reverence for our ancestors and the observance of each solstice I find it fascinating when finding out more about the Aboriginal / First Nation cultures here in Canada, especially in the area I live, Port Credit in Ontario. I want to find out more in a respectful way, so that I may understand the peoples that lived here many generations before we did. I was very honoured to be invited a few years back into a circle to smoke the peace pipe with the Elders of the Mississauga's Of The New Credit First Nation who are a sub-tribe of the Anishinaabe speaking First Nations located in southern Ontario are closely related to the Ojibwa. The name Mississauga comes from the Anishinaabe word meaning " Those at the Great River-mouth."
I had a fabulous weekend watching their sunrise and sunset ceremonies on the shores of Lake Ontario, observing in between many dances and live music from First Nation and Métis artists, the mix of cultures brings out some amazing music and rhythms.
National Aboriginal Day
June 21 was National Aboriginal Day. This was a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Although these groups share many similarities, they each have their own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.
For generations, many Indigenous Peoples and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.
Through research and exploration, “Strong As A Nation” is meant to bring First Nations, Metis, and Inuit musicians’ and their music to the forefront on a national scale while also continuing to strengthen and create advocacy for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit issues surrounding music and music education for youth and children. Through this indigenous lens, they share research, talents, and the stories of the places and people that meet along the journey of coming together as a nation.
'Strong As a Nation'. Video written, shot and edited by Youth4Music Ambassador Cole Forrest Stevens
A Canadian folk and country singer-songwriter, who won the
Juno Award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year at the Juno Awards of 2017 for his debut album ' Earthly Days '
William is a member of the Peguis First Nation from Manitoba
The Dock On Queen - Toronto
Never heard of it I hear you say.... well that's because it opens this weekend, I think you should definitely check it out because it is owned and being opened by the wonderfully talented musician Mimi O'Bonsawin an incredible singer / songwriter based in Toronto, There are two sides to this venue ....
Formerly from Sudbury Mimi said " The Dock pays homage to my life growing up in Northern Ontario. it is Northern Ontario through and through. We are all from up north and decided to bring a little of that to Toronto. Even the wood we recycled is from an old school in Espanola. The canoe we have hanging on top of the bar is my grandfather's canoe.”
Mimi has entered into a licensing agreement with Sudbury based coffee entrepreneurs Sommelier de café / Old Rock coffee, on top of great coffee there will be fab eats and amazing music
I hope to see you there to celebrate and enjoy a full day of coffee, food, drinks, giveaways, and musical performances for the grand opening this Sunday June 25th at 932 Queen St East. https://www.thedockonqueen.com/
If you are still not sure who Mimi is I highly recommend you check her out, she has just released a brand new album called ' Connected ' which was a Blues & Roots Radio Album Of The Week a few months ago, and today sees the launch of a brand new video for one of the tracks from it, ' Beautiful Place ' celebrates the land and our connection to it, I have been a long time fan of her music and all that she embodies as a human being,.
Remember above I was talking about learning more in a respectful way of the First Nations Culture ... well ... Mimi has kindly agreed to sit down with me and talk about some of the history of her people, culture, her songwriting and how it is all ' Connected '
Here is the newly released video
The Rogue Folk Club - Vancouver
Located in Vancouver, British Columbia the club attracts the Very Best In Live Acoustic Roots Music everything from Celtic to Bluegrass, Blues to Gypsy Jazz, World Music to Singer-Songwriters, Old-Time, Trad and more. The Rogue Folk Club provides a unique approach to concert presentation, offering audiences the opportunity to see and hear some of the most accomplished musicians and singers in the world in a relaxed, intimate setting and presents at least 50 concerts, 12 Roguelele Nights, and 10 dances per year in Vancouver.
When the likes of Sharon Shannon is on the list of artists who have performed here it speaks volumes for the standing it's held in amongst musicians.
Artists To Watch For
Sarah has as a new album out .... and she heads out on a cross border summer tour in support of it's release today, Bandit Queen, which was released in February of this year peaked at #1 on Canada's Roots charts, has become a staple in Top 30 charts across the country, has appeared in the Earshot Top 20, and keeps on being recognized by bloggers and industry insiders as one of those albums that people need to hear.
Sarah has received much airplay on Blues & Roots Radio shows from within Canada and further afield in Europe, she is a renowned live performer and has played some of the finest stages in Canada and beyond. The critically acclaimed album is described as a genre-defying 13 track cinematic adventure that recounts tales of truck drivers, religious figures, prehistoric geology, upside down turned around folk tales, millennial graduates, and other characters she has met or made up along the way.
Go and see her if you can if she is playing at a venue near you, Sarah is charming, witty, and she will have you singing along in thoroughly entertaining performances. Check out her extensive tour at her website link http://www.sarahbeatty.ca/shows/
The Fraser Valley Blues Society presents The Steve Kozak Band CD release party and dance at the Eagles Hall in Abottsford BC. June 24th, Steve was the winner of a 2012 Maple Blues Award and has been nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award as Blues Artists of the Year by Break Out West.
His current release is a mix of new original material and some obscure but classy covers.' It's Time ' is being featured as Blues & Roots Radio's ' Album Of The Week ' and is well worth a listen in it's entirety and will beckon you to add it to your collection.
One of Canada’s finest blues artists, Steve Kozak has been turning heads of blues fans in Canada for over thirty years since he first broke onto the Vancouver scene in the mid-eighties.
When it comes to tasty West coast blues guitar, Steve's name is at the top of the list -- just ask greats like Duke Robillard and James Harman who have shared the stage with this gifted bandleader, instrumentalist, writer and singer.
I hope you are finding the things and people of interest that I bring to you each week across this amazing country we call Canada, I feel blessed to be able to live and breath music from so many different cultures daily. Thanks for all the brilliant feedback over the last month of me doing this and please go and check out the other blogs on these pages from all around the world, there is some wonderful reading.
Have a safe week ahead from me here in the Wee Hoose !
By Stevie Connor, Blues & Roots Radio
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This week festival season starts for real, I live in Port Credit, Ontario home to a couple of big events one of which is the Mississauga Waterfront Festival which kicks off today June 16th with a Country music themed Friday, I will not dwell on it too much as most of the weekend events are taken over by tribute acts and it's just not my thing, however the Friday kick off is always good value and it's a fantastic family day out if the weather is good, Port Credit is not called the gem of Mississauga for nothing, it's a beautiful part of the city to visit.
Most of the weekend I will be at The Sound Of Music Festival in Burlington, Ontario
a thirty minute drive west of my wee hoose, where there is an incredible array of independent artists going to be performing, It's a beautiful setting right on Lake Ontario and always well attended, I hope to see you there especially on Sunday where I will be taking in the David Francey and Irish Mythen gigs, if you plan on being there on Saturday go see Steve Strongman and Harrison Kennedy perform, they are truly special, both Juno winners.
There is one thing that I will say about the festival on a slightly negative note, the website has far too much information !!! I tried, but I ended up losing the will, overwhelming when trying to find out who is on and where, it is an indication of just how much there is to see for the whole 8 days. soundofmusic.ca/
Black Sheep Inn - Auberge Mouton Noir
Located in Wakefield, Quebec on the Gatineau River, the Black Sheep Inn has some of the best independent artists performing Thursday to Sunday.
Thirty-five kilometres northwest of Ottawa. The village, named after the city of
Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England, is now the southern edge of La Pêche, and was founded by Irish, Scottish, and English immigrants. It is approximately a twenty-five-minute drive north of the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge that divides Gatineau and Ottawa, Ontario.
The village has developed a reputation for a somewhat bohemian lifestyle and boasts a number of small cafes, pubs, and galleries. Many young families live in the area, enjoying its lifestyle, services, and resources. Many artists live in the surrounding mountains and valleys.
The calibre of acts performing is extremely strong and it's a spot where touring artists love to play. Tonight Friday 16th June the Durham County Poets perform, I featured them on the first blog, they are an outstanding Blues & Roots band from the Chateauguay valley and coming up are some fantastic gigs, The Mike Plume Band, Joel Plaskett ( Sold Out ) and Sean McCann just to mention a few of the heavyweights.
I've been told that when visiting the Inn the Sheep and Sleep is recommended !
Indigenous Arts Festival | National Aboriginal Day
Celebrate Indigenous and Métis culture June 21 to 25 at Fort York National Historic Site. Plan to spend the days under the open skies in downtown Toronto enjoying traditional and contemporary music, educational programming, storytelling, dance, theatre, and food. The series of events will energize the grounds of this historic site with powerful ancient traditions and compelling contemporary creations by Indigenous artists.
Presented by Fort York and the Mississauga's of the New Credit First Nation, National Aboriginal Day followed by the Indigenous Arts Festival will celebrate the very best in Indigenous and Metis culture. This event is presented as part of TO Canada with Love, the City of Toronto's year-long program honouring Canada's 150th birthday.
June 24th Canadian Country Music and Juno award winner Crystal Shawanda will perform on the main stage, she is a soulful powerhouse whose country and blues captures the space where north meets south. She'll bring tracks from her forthcoming release, "Fish out of Water" as well as her hits from "Dawn of a New Day" and "The Whole World's got the Blues."
The Toronto Jazz Festival
Toronto is fortunate to have not one, but two major international jazz festivals. Dedicated enthusiasts flock to the city each June for the TD Toronto Jazz Festival – a 10-day event featuring some of the biggest names in jazz. Over 1,500 musicians perform at more than 40 locations across the city, including free concerts at Nathans Phillips Square.
Beaches Jazz Festival
I have a soft spot for the Beaches area of Toronto as that's where my wife is from and it's there that the jazz celebration continues in July at the Beaches International Jazz Festival. This free outdoor festival showcases a variety of sounds from blues, big band, African, Latin and other traditions – all taking place in a spectacular lakeside setting in The Beach.
Artists To Watch For
Irish-born, contemporary Canadian folk artist who’s been amassing accolades and achievements across several continents over the years. Her presence and charisma simply command attention, and regardless of where she takes the stage, she delivers a sonic and emotional experience, in recent years, she has performing alongside Rod Stewart, Gordon Lightfoot, and Lucinda Williams and billings on major festival stages the world over. Irish will be at The Sound Of Music Festival this weekend.
A firm favourite of mine, and not because he is Scottish born, but because he is such an anassuming person with an immense amount of talent and an inate gift for telling it how it is, a champion of the working class, a proud physical labourer from a proud working class Scottish immigrant family, he spent more than 30 years toiling in the Toronto rail yards, the Yukon bush and the Eastern Townships’ construction sites, hitchhiking across Canada at least three times in the process.
He played no instruments, never aspired to a career in music, and only reluctantly took to the stage at the age of 45 under pressure from friends and family. The reaction was instant.
Within two years, David won his first Juno, was touring internationally, and got to thinking that perhaps he should quit his construction job and try this music thing full time for a while. Since then, he’s won two more Juno's and been nominated a total of five times.
Enjoy the weekend music fans, and until next time have a safe week ahead.
By Stevie Connor, Blues & Roots Radio
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That week passed quickly !
The second blog and so much to get in, so here we go.
To start we have two venues to highlight this week and both in the maritime provinces of Canada. When thinking about venues in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and even New Brunswick, there is no better person to speak to than the fountain of knowledge on all things East Coast that is the walking music encyclopedia named Craig Mills.
Craig is originally from Lewisporte, NL and is a regular visitor to the maritime provinces where he attends music venues and conferences. He is the host of the long running Blues & Roots Radio show ' The Eastern Passage ' where he showcases East Coast independent artists, he also hosts ' The Lost Highway ' playing Americana, Roots and Country Rock artists from across Canada and the USA exclusively for Blues & Roots Radio..
I have become good friends with Craig since moving to Canada and he always keeps me right on East Coast happenings. I asked him which two venues I should highlight that were well known for great music, and in a later blog I'll give you his two suggestions of lesser well known venues, but first ...
The Ship Pub - St. John's, Newfoundland ( Formerly The Ship Inn )
The Ship Pub is the unofficial artists bar in downtown St. John’s. Nestled down the stairway alley of Solomon’s Lane, just off of Duckworth St., the Ship ( once known as The Ship Inn ) was at one time so infamous that CODCO immortalized the pub in it’s classic “ Ship Inn Men ” sketch. The Ship was a much more rough and ready bar back in the day, but it has since mellowed with age.
The music is always high calibre and .... the Fish N Chips are to be highly recommended - always important to have great food on a night out watching great talent - here is what Craig had to say about the venue
" St. Johns has many upscale and trendy bars. If you are looking for one of those do not under any circumstances go to The Ship. To get to this venue you have to take the alley steps to Solomon's Lane and upon entering the dark, long lived room you immediately sense the tradition and history of its battered stage. From Ron ( Hynes ) to Amelia ( Curran ) this cornerstone of the Newfoundland live music scene has seen it all. " - Craig Mills
So be warned if you take a trip down the well worn steps, the venue is a little dated in decor, but it hosts some of the best artists and music on the East Coast.
No Website Available
The Carleton - Halifax, Nova Scotia
The Carelton was almost gone as a result of a downturn in business due to the massive construction projects in downtown Halifax, but in March and at the 11th hour a buyer was found who wanted to keep it as a live music venue incorporating the restaurant business along side it, and, Mike Campbell ( the previous owner ) is still involved, and while the cities Argyle street is still under construction The Carleton is still open and have great food, fab drinks and fantastic live music. Look out for Gordie Samson in early July and before that shows include Cory Tetford CD Release, The Folk and Country Line, Big Country Ramblers and Steve Poltz.
As with the Ship in Newfoundland's St John's the Carelton is an iconic venue and if you get the chance to visit the city it's well worth a visit.
The last word on this weeks recommended venues from Craig
" The Carleton in Halifax is one of the rare rooms that was born out of a love of music ahead of food and beverage sales. It's incredible sound system, intimate sightlines and the quality control of the world class artists that grace its stage make it the finest listening room in the country. " - Craig Mills
Three festivals I will mention coming up very soon are the fantastic Hillside Festival, Guelph, The Mariposa Folk Festival, Orillia both in Ontario and Tremblant International Blues Festival in Montreal, Quebec.
Mariposa Folk Festival
July 7 - 9
Mariposa Folk Festival is a celebration of music, dance, storytelling and crafting, all set along the lakeside in Orillia. Catch some renowned folk-roots artists and over 150 performances on 12 stages from July 7-9. Artists appearing are Bruce Cockburn, Bare Naked Ladies, Whitehorse, Matt Andersen and more.
July 14 - 16
The Hillside Summer Festival and Hillside Inside are three-day, multi-stage events with a broad artistic vision that emphasizes diversity: of culture, of musical heritage and style, of age, geography and influence.
I am very honoured that Blues & Roots Radio have received accreditation for the event, our first time attending, a spectacular lineup awaits from July 14th - 16th, including Canadian artists Sarah Harmer, Irish Mythen, The Jerry Cans, William Prince, Lindi Ortega, NEFE there will also be an artist I have been a long time fan of ( and he is a fellow Jam fan ) Lucas Stagg who I will mention further down this column along with a very special performer from Australia by the name of Xavier Rudd.
Festival International Du Blues De Tremblant
July 8 - 17
One of Canada's premier Blues Festivals, renowned for the quality of its programming, its enchanting surroundings and the proximity it offers to the artists. There are more than 100 shows, most of them free, presented on 4 outdoor stages and in the 9 participating resto-bars of the pedestrian village.
Ten days of music featuring blues legends, aspiring stars and emerging artists following today’s musical trends.
Over the years, the Festival has welcomed numerous international blues, rock and rhythm and blues legends such as Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, Keb Mo, James Cotton, Bob Walsh, Jimmy James, Koko Taylor, Blind Boys of Alabama, Mavis Staples, Bettye LaVette, Steve Hill, Jonny Lang among others.
The Tremblant International Blues Festival is one of the largest musical events in Canada.
Year after year, the Festival attracts over 100 000 festival-goers.
Artists To Watch For
Two artists I am highlighting this week are the aforementioned Lucas Stagg and Xavier Rudd who will both be appearing at The Hillside Festival in July.
Lucas is a prolific writer and performer and the Kitchener, Ontario native, now based in Toronto, has released ten albums. Lucas is a true troubadour and will be appearing at the Hillside Festival in July on his home turf.
It is rare indeed when Lucas Stagg isn’t performing somewhere in some guise on any given night.
“I don’t really think about genres anymore or how that translates into my own writing,” he says. In the last couple of years, I’ve become very comfortable living in Toronto’s west end. The city has become my muse, so if I have to describe my sound as anything, it’s really Toronto music.” - Busted Flat Records Website
Can't wait to see him perform again.
Xavier Rudd - Live In The Netherlands
With the annoucnement of the new album ' Live in the Netherlands ' comes the news of Xavier's next journey to Canada.
‘ Live In The Netherlands ’ is a recording of the final show on their most recent European tour capturing the magic of those performances. The 18-track double live album consists of Xavier Rudd’s most loved songs including ‘Come Let Go’, ‘Spirit Bird’, the global hit ‘Follow the Sun’ and a brilliant cover of crowd-favourite ‘No Woman No Cry’.
Today Xavier reflects on this memorable concert event:
“ Live in the Netherlands kind of just fell together pretty organically. The tour in Europe was sold out and pumping and Bobby, Ant and I were really on top of our game. The energy at the shows was huge and there was a really strong thread of positive intention running through the communities. We had an opportunity to record the last two nights in Utrecht, which I thought would be a good idea mainly for a reference for us to document where we were at. When I listened back to it I felt like we captured some magic particularly on the last night and I’m happy to share, what I feel is the best live product I’ve released to this point in my career. ”
Emmanuel Jal and Christina Holmes will be joining Xavier on his headline dates on his forthcoming USA & Canada tour. After 6 weeks of shows through Europe, Xavier and his team start in NYC before heading north to Canada, where they will appear at The Evolve Festival, New Brunswick, Sherbrooke, Quebec, The Ottawa Blues Festival, Hillside Festival and a number of other dates including the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto.
A reminder that June 29th is the Four Chords and The Truth Quartely Songwriter Series at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto doors open at 6pm, Tickets HERE , It also happens to be my good friend Richard Flohil's birthday that night and he'll be there at Sarah Jane Scouten's new Album Launch straight after at 9pm, tickets HERE
That will be a wonderful evening and I hope to see you there if you can make it !
Until next week
As head of programming at Blues & Roots Radio I'm in a position, I think, that gives me a unique insight into the niche scene that the radio station is a part of, under the radar as far as mainstream music is concerned, just like many of the artists that are played on the many shows from across Canada on the daily schedule, from Roots, Blues, Celtic, Americana, Folk and much much more..
I have toiled with whether I should be a part of the new blogs on the website, would it be self serving ? Would it send out the wrong message ? Whatever that message may be.
Well it's here, and it's here because I feel that I have the opportunity to bring to your attention the many artists who I know about that you may not, and if that helps just one of them sell an album or it gets you to one of their shows to listen to them live then I figure it would be worthwhile to do this, it may also make you aware of the venues, small and large, that support independent artists as they travel across Canada, they are all as passionate about the artists as I am.
I will be all over the map, literally, from coast to coast to coast. Canada is a vast country with many diverse music scenes from city to city and province to province, I will write about what I know, and it's only a small part of what's out there, it will maybe help you discover some new music and artists along the way, I will cover new releases, emerging artists, established artists, festivals, venues and everything in between.
I hope you enjoy the read, if you find a new artist and go to their show, buy their music or merchandise, let them know where you discovered them, it all helps us to help them to help you.
I do have to state right from the onset that any views in these blogs are entirely my own and not necessarily the views of the station !
Lets get started !
Hello independent music lovers everywhere !
I am from Scotland, live in Port Credit, Ontario in Canada which is a part of Toronto's GTA and I love music .... I travel..... a lot, and I try and get out to as many performances as I can, but Canada being the size it is I can't get to every gig or venue, so if you have a particular favourite venue or festival that you think is worth a mention let me know by sending a mail to me, I'd be happy to research it and give it a mention in future blogs.
I am going to start with one or two of my favourite local venues, move on to festivals coming up from near and far and then mention a couple of artists both established and emerging with news on albums just released or coming out, Whatever I don't have a chance to mention I will try and cover in future musings.
My Local Venues
My local haunts for performances have to meet a strict criteria, they have to be listening rooms, where artists are given the respect from the audience for the works that they are presenting, there is nothing worse for me to be in a room where the voices get louder because the music has started, it becomes unbearable, I feel for any artist who has to stand in a venue underneath a TV screen while hockey night in Canada is on.
The Moonshine Cafe
I have been witness to some of the finest performers in Canada appearing at The Moonshine Cafe, this venue ( Capacity 60 ) has played host to artists such as the legendary Ron Hynes to Stephen Fearing, Gary King, Dave Gunning, Paul Reddick and the list goes on, it's a stones throw - well not quite - from my home. Situated in Oakville, Ontario The Moonshine Cafe is one of the best listening rooms in the province of Ontario if not Canada. Having been established over ten years ago by John and Jane and their welcoming statement says it all.
" We support, encourage and promote artists by providing a welcoming venue for the accomplished performer, the beginner and those who are "somewhere in between" to perform or showcase their art in a comfortable atmosphere. WE INSIST that performer's are treated respectfully during performances. This essentially means being quiet during the show. WE HAVE WORKED HARD to build a reputation as being one of the finest small venues in the country. WE GUARD that reputation jealously."
I like that !!!
Recently I saw Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar try out new material for her upcoming release as well as slay the audience with old favourites, ( She has just been down to Nashville to write with Colin Linden for the new album ), I also took in the launch of Lynne Hanson's new CD ' Uneven Ground ' which was featured as an album of the week on Blues and Roots Radio before she headed to Europe on a very successful six week tour.
The Moonshine - and I like the name too - is host to some great shows every night of the week, of note in June are The Sisters Euclid featuring Kevin Breit, The Beat Heathens featuring Steve Marriner ( MonkeyJunk ) and Mark Lalama is playing there too, see what I told you, wall to wall great independent music.
Stick Wednesday, September 13th in your dairy, I'll tell you why a little further down the column !
You can find out more from their website.
The Dakota Tavern
Toronto is awash with brilliant venues from The Horsehoe Tavern, The Great Hall, Massey Hall, Cameron House, the new Hugh's Room Live Venue and the countless great places on The Danforth or indeed any of the districts from the Distillery area to Roncevalles and beyond out into the GTA.
The Dakota Tavern has to be one of my favourites for the calibre of musicians that play there to the atmosphere that is very unique, situated on Ossington Avenue you descend steep stairs to a wondrous cavern with awesome music loving staff, an intimate atmosphere and depending on the night, any number of cool bands and artists from a varying genre and scene .... and Toronto is not short of scenes, it is where all transient musicians seem to end up at some point in their career.
June sees Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, Derek Downham & The Beauties, David Essig, Leeroy Stagger with Dan Taylor and more, Sunday brunch is an event in itself with bluegrass delights for the afternoon.
Something of particular interest to me - because I am involved in it - is Four Chords and The Truth on Thursday June 29th, hosted by multi award winning Andrea England the songwriters series features a who's who of the Canadian music scene across a broad spectrum of genres, it's been a sell out for every show, quarterly, since 2015, well worth buying a ticket for. Featuring songwriters in the semi-round confessing all about their songs which they then perform.
Four Chords And The Truth - Songwriters In The Semi-Round
Your Local Venues
There are many venues I don't know about I am sure, drop me a line and let me know, I'd be happy to spread the word but don't have the space to mention all at once, so be patient with me, we've only just started on this journey together !
Festivals In June
Some festivals in Canada in the month of June
Paisley Blues Festival - Paisley, ON - June 2 - 4
Sound Of Music Festival - Burlington, ON - June 10 - 18
Festival Folk Sur Le Canal - Montreal, QC - June 14 - 18
Beaumont Blues & Roots Festival - Beaumont. AB - June 16 - 18
NXNE - Toronto, ON - June 23 - 25
Ottawa Jazz Festival - Ottawa,ON - June 22 - July 2
Montreal Jazz Festival - Montreal, QC - June 28 - July 8
Ian Foster - Sleeper Years
Ian is a personal favourite from the East Coast of Canada, he fits right into the mould of songwriting troubadours who are in abundance in the maritime region, he in my mind is right up there with Dave Gunning, Amelia Curran, Ashley Condon just naming a few, Ian was very much respected by and carries the mantle in Newfoundland in my opinion of the late great Ron Hynes, of which a tribute song is contained on this release, and it's a special one.
Ian's new release came out a few weeks ago and he has been supporting it with a tour of Ontario, if you get the chance to see him you must go, he is a fabulous and witty storyteller as well as being a very gifted writer and performer.
Mike Biggar - Go All In
Mike has been on the scene in New Brunswick and beyond for a while but his latest release ' Go All In ' is a seriously brilliant album, it has it all, soaring vocals, top class musicians ( Charlie A'Court, Chris Kirby ) and the songs each and everyone are stand out.
He has just completed his first tour of Newfoundland to much acclaim which was on the back of his first sojourn through Ontario, I said earlier to keep a date in your diary free because Mike will return to Ontario in September and one of the dates will be at The Moonshine Cafe, Wednesday September 13th. It's the first time he will play the venue and with only 60 seats available I would book my ticket early for what promises to be a knock out debut.
Harrison Kennedy - Who U Tellin' ?
The release of a new album on Toronto based Electro-Fi Records can mean only one thing for Hamilton based Juno Award winner Harrison .... more awards ! The man has class stamped all over him and whatever he does is more than fine with me.
Harrison is a Canadian blues, R&B, soul singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known for being the lead vocalist on the Chairmen of the Board song, "Chairman of the Board", but has had a varied solo career since the mid-1970s. He was awarded the 2016 “ Blues Album of the Year ” Juno Award for his release, This Is From Here.
Artists To Watch For
A couple of releases I recommend you get a hold of
Mike McKenna Jr - Pacific Northwest Bound
Originally from Cape Breton now living in Montreal, Mike has travelled far and wide with interesting stories from China to Australia, and across Canada and into the USA, he is an extremely talented new to me songwriter and storyteller through song, his new release is fabulous. He is also a very funny and genuine guy, i spent my birthday last year with Mike, photographer Randy MacNeil ( A fellow Cape Bretoner ), Craig Mills, and Anne Connor where I got an insight into the concept of the album ( Over a few beers ), it truly is a wonderful production.
Mike has said that if he never makes another album he will be content that he made this one.
The Durham County Poets - Grimshaw Road
A very cool bunch and extremely talented, I met them a couple of years ago and was impressed by their live performances and enthusiasm for the blues and roots music they so eloquently deliver, their new release is superb
The band are from the Chateauguay valley located in Quebec, Canada. Their influences are varied, from blues to folk, from jazz to ragtime, with elements of the Band and even James Taylor.
It's this weeks Blues & Roots Radio Album Of The Week.
A Diverse Nation
Diverse in culture, diverse in music, as we near the July 1st Canada Day celebrations I will be highlighting the many artists whose cultures have been here for many more years than 150, whether they be First Nations, French Canadian, Irish, Scots, English, Asian, Caribbean or African descent, they all have a huge impact on the musical landscape that enriches the nation.
There is a whole lot more I could / should share if I had the time and space, for now I will leave you with this blog as an example of what lies ahead. If you have the inkling click the share button below for Facebook and Twitter and spread the word, come back again, send me suggestions of venues or festivals near you worth mentioning.
Thanks for putting up with my ramblings and until next time I hope to see you along the musical road we all travel.