Cover Story

Hugh’s Room Playing the Blues Again with David Rotundo

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

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!

Shades Introducing Boland

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Submitted by Don Graham

The debut album by Toronto hip hop/rap artist Boland has been a long time coming but the artist will be here for a long time .

The title of the project ‘Shades’ suits both the album and the artist. The album shows the many “shades” this young poet has observed and documented in his life and “shades” suits for his signature sunglasses.

‘Shades’ is the first complete album project for Boland and it shows the maturity and honesty that is now so evident in his music and his life. I have known Michael Boland since he was a young artist, have watched his development and seen his inherent creative ability blossom. His early love of all things Dylan has served him well. He has taken Dylan’s ability to put into rhyme and rhythm the thoughts of his generation and molded and honed it to make it his own. “I feel like I’m in a good place now and I have to say that sobriety is the key. Since I got sober everything is much clearer and I have the drive to do what I meant to do.”

Debbie Green Out of the Shadows

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Submitted by Don Graham

Debbie Green is not a household name but to the musical giants she influenced, taught and mentored she is a cornerstone to their careers and musical force to be revered and respected.

It’s best to go back to the beginning to get the full story on her influence on the folk music boom of the 50’s in America and beyond.

Deborah Green was born in New York City in 1940, her Dad was Vice President at Macy’s Department Store and her mother devoted a lot of her time and energy to charity work. Her life was middle class normal, growing next to a golf course on Staten Island. Her life changed when her parents split up when she was four years old.

She enrolled in The Putney School, a boarding school in Vermont. The school had a good music program and it was there that Debby showed her interest in music.

Doc Walker Weathervane

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Submitted by Don Graham

There are a few artists that I personally look forward to hearing new stuff from. Manitoba’s Doc Walker are near the top of that list. So when I caught wind of Weathervane, the boys new 9 nine song set, I was eager to hear what they had come up with this time. And as I had hoped, they didn’t disappoint. It seems every time I review a Doc Walker album it’s “their best to date.” No surprise Weathervane just moved into the “best yet” ranking.

A little background on the band, Doc Walker is Chris Thornsteinson and Dave Wasyliw, who have known each since childhood and started their first band together at a very young age. “Chris and I started playing together at about 12 years old, just playing instrumentals on our guitars. We always had a friendly competition going on. We pushed each other and if Chris got a red guitar, I got a red guitar. Stuff like that. Neither one of us sang but when Chris started to sing, I started to sing. We still push each other,” said Dave Wasyliw. Chris agreed, “Dave and I have been making music together since we were kids and always did challenge each other. Even to this day when I write something I want it to be up to Dave’s standards of what he thinks I’m capable of. It’s great to have that kind of respect for each other.”

Judith Owen Somebody’s Child

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Submitted by Don Graham

Welsh born pianist-singer-songwriter Judith Owen has been making great records since her debut album ‘Emotions On a Postcard’ in 1996 and has just released ‘Somebody’s Child’, arguably her best work to date. A 15 song collection, 13 tracks and 2 bonus tracks, the album features songs and pictures of a life well lived and experienced. With Judith’s distinctive voice and piano as the stars taking centre stage, the finely crafted tunes give us a glimpse inside the life of a well rounded and observant songwriter.

The title track and opening song is a gem in all its simplicity and honesty, an observation of the human condition in the 21st century. In Judith’s words “Somebody’s Child is about all the things I see, the things that really count in this noisy crazy world where we’re all running around. I’d seen this young homeless girl in Manhattan, middle of winter, a foot of snow, barefoot, naked really except for a couple of trash bags with a huge beautiful, pregnant belly. We were all crossing the street when suddenly I had this moment of clarity where I thought that’s somebody’s child and if my life had been different that could be me.”

‘No More Goodbyes’ is a song about dealing with the death of a loved one that no matter how hard it is there is the side of it that says “sadness and yet, no more regrets no more goodbyes”.

Dick Damron Happy Birthday South of Two Borders

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Submitted by Don Graham

Canadian country music legend and Hall of Famer times three Dick Damron is still pickin’ and kickin’ south of two borders in sunny Mazatlan, Mexico. He is a charter member of three Hall of Fames; The International Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

The pride of Bentley, Alberta, has been making Canada proud for seven decades and fondly remembers the early scuffling days in the 70’s. “I was touring Europe, Scotland, Germany and England, back in the day where musicians from my area thought a Far East Tour was going to Saskatchewan! We played a lot in Vegas is those days as well. Here I was a kid from Bentley playing in Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens in Bentley….no really, what happens in Bentley??”

Dick recorded his first record in 1958 at radio station CKRD in Red Deer, Alberta. “Gonna Have a Party” and “Rockin’ Baby”, original songs written by Damron. He pressed a thousand copies and released it to radio. He released the record on his own label and hit the usual roadblocks. ‘We don’t play Canadian records.’ “This confused me,” Damron said, “I’m a Canadian, they are a Canadian radio station and we’re in Canada!” Some things don’t change much! After a couple more releases on his own he signed with Quality Records who manufactured and released records on a national level. The first recordings for Quality were also original songs “Julie” and “That’s What I Call Living.”

Garage Rock Still Rockin’ It Out – The Sonics

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Submitted by Don Graham


Cover Photo Credit: Bobbi Barbarich

The Sonics formed in 1960 in Tacoma Washington, just 25 miles from Seattle where the grunge movement would start years later. Many of the grunge and punk rock bands would credit The Sonics with influencing their sound and style. Cashbox Canada caught up with Rob Lind, the sax/harp player and founding member to talk about the band and their upcoming tour and specifically their Toronto date ay the Danforth Music Hall.

“It’s interesting to know that we influenced people and that some people credit us with starting the grunge/punk movement. That was never our intention. We were influenced by Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, we just thought of ourselves as a rock ‘n’ roll band. Now granted we were in Tacoma, kinda like the working-class Liverpool to Seattle’s hip and slick London. My dad was a blue collar worker on the waterfront and our lifestyle and our music was more working class grind it out rock ‘n’ roll. Make no mistake, there were some fabulous musicians in Seattle but their style of music was a bit more jazz oriented and sophisticated than ours. Being a sax player I really noticed it. These guys were playing all this complicated jazz stuff and I was a straight rock n roll sax player. We were working class guys who just wanted to rock.”

Merle Haggard Singin’ Him Back Home

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Submitted by Don Graham

April 6th. Merle Haggard’s date of birth in 1937, date of his death in 2016 and in 2017 the date of a Nashville tribute concert honoring the country music legend.

Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard is set to take place on April 6 at 7 pm at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena; April 6 also would have been Haggard’s 80th birthday. The star studded event is being put together by Haggard’s family, Blackbird Presents and Willie Nelson, and Don Was, Ben Haggard and Buddy Cannon are serving as its musical directors. The tribute show will be taped for multi-platform distribution and some of the proceeds will benefit the TJ Martell Foundation.

“I am so very thankful for this tribute to my late husband, Merle Haggard,” Theresa Haggard says in a recent press release. “Please come join me and my family at this fantastic show that Merle would be so proud of.”

The concert will feature Willie Nelson, Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesneyas well as performances from John Mellencamp, Dierks Bentley, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams Jr., the Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss, Ronnie Dunn, Warren Haynes, Jamey Johnson, Kacey Musgraves, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lucinda Williams, Ben Haggard, John Anderson, Connie Smith and Bobby Bare. Additional performers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Matt Andersen - Honest Man

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Submitted by Don Graham

Matt Andersen has paid his dues (probably some of yours and mine as well) and is now reaping the rewards of his labour with international recognition and a jammed packed tour schedule.

We caught up with Matt at his home in Nova Scotia on the eve of the beginning of his new live show schedule -The Honest Man Tour. “I feel really fortunate that I’m able to go out on these tours and enough people like my music and support me to make it all possible.” This tour is a solo tour and I asked Matt, who tours with his band as well, ,whether he preferred the band set up or the solo configuration he said “I like them both, neither one is better, just different. As a solo I can change things but I do that with the band anyway. It’s fun to not do the same thing every night. Plus the band is used to me hollering at them on stage.”

And Matt is set to embark on a tour that will see him in the northeast United States in February and March with Canadian gigs in March and April as well before heading to Europe in May and June and back to Canada in July. The boy is busy and enjoying every minute of it. “I feel very fortunate to be able to work as much as I do and be able to share the music with the people.”

Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne - Jumpin' & Boppin'!

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Submitted by Sandy Graham
Biography Credit: Sarah French Publicity

Hailed as "an artist bringing the piano back to the front ranks of contemporary blues," multiple-award winning blues, boogie-woogie and jazz pianist Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne is called "Blues Boss" for a reason. His musical career began as a child prodigy in the 1960s and has continued to flourish for over 50 years with Wayne at the forefront of modern day blues piano practitioners.

Born in Spokane, Washington, raised in New Orleans and now based in British Columbia, Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne has built a stellar reputation within Canada and abroad for his lively attire and energetic concert performances. The zoot suited Wayne will be returning to Russia, South America, and Europe later in 2016, where he regularly sells out 800 to 1000 seat venues and headlines many international concerts and festivals.

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