The state of the Canadian blues: healthy

The state of the Canadian blues can be easily gauged following the annual MAPLE BLUES AWARDS festivity, held at the end of January and organized by the Toronto Blues Society (check the picture of a young Derek Andrews with Willie Dixon on the TSB  link)

This year was the 16th edition, one that delivers – in my opinion – a diagnostic of HEALTHY for the Canadian blues music.

Here is the list of nominees for the 2012 awards, a who’s who in the Maple blues plus the hot new names.

The event got national coverage on CBC (national broadcaster) and Globe and Mail, also local press such as The Hamilton Spectator (due to local hero Steve Strongman @Strongmanmusic deftly collecting three awards).

I heard Steve talking about the Hamilton scene on CBC radio and found out, a bit surprised, that it’s a strong and mature scene, loaded with musicians that make a conscious decision of making music there and not in the conveniently located/emotionally voided Toronto.



The other 3-prize winners that night were Ottawa trio MONKEY JUNK – but they are not new to being awarded (took 3 Maple Blues awards for 2011, as well as a Juno for 2012).

There was something in the air in Ottawa last year.

  • Monkey Junk swiftly swiped the awards ceremony
  • The Souljazz Orchestra rocked my world (and my commute, as I was virtually yelling their music Northbound on 404) with their album Solidarity (made it on my best 2012 albums list and on many others, and also toured the world)
  • My favorite power-trio in Canadian blues, up and coming Joe Gaspar Band (listen Joe’s story in my podcast; listen to the band’s music; or connect with the band on Facebook) , released their first album, Move On.
My bets are on JOE GASPAR BAND from Ottawa for Maple Blues Awards 2014.
My bets are on JOE GASPAR BAND from Ottawa for Maple Blues Awards 2014.

Winners of the 16th Annual Maple Blues Awards

Entertainer of the year: Colin James

Electric act: MonkeyJunk

Acoustic act: Suzie Vinnick

Male vocalist: Matt Andersen

Female vocalist: Suzie Vinnick

New artist or group: Steve Kozak

Recording: A Natural Fact, Steve Strongman; producer Rob Szabo

Blues with a Feeling lifetime achievement award: Matt Minglewood

B.B. King international artist: Tedeschi Trucks Band

Guitar player: Steve Strongman

Harmonica player: Steve Marriner

Piano/keyboard player: David Vest

Horn player: Jon Wong

Drummer: Matt Sobb

Bassist: Gary Kendall

Songwriter: Steve Strongman

Blues booster: John Valenteyn

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