Friday, January 23, 2009

Toronto Blues Society - Maple Blues Awards Event Highlights

I haven't posted about the Toronto Blues Society for ages, but this one needs to get done before the week is out.

On Monday of this week, I attended the Maple Blues Awards, which is Oscar night for the Canadian blues community. As always, it's a great event, and this is the first chance I've had to post about it. I've been involved with the TBS since inception (1985), and an active Board member for most of that time, so pardon my cheerleading here. That aside, Canada has long been a world-class producer of blues talent, and our work at the TBS plays a big part in keeping the blues alive.

The MBA event is a great showcase for just how good the blues can be in Canada, and is a testament to the commitment of blues lovers to support the artists as well as live music in general. The reticent musician in me has a hard time getting off that soapbox, so I'll stop now.

The MBAs are a great celebration of the Canadian blues scene (and if you're in the roots music biz, the event capped off the weekend-long Blues Summit IV, which is the biggest event on our calendar), and this will either be very familiar or very foreign to you. For that reason, I'm not going to run down all the winners here - better you read up on it at our website, and explore what else we're up to. If you follow Canadian blues artists, you probably know the results by now anyway - and if don't, then you should! So maybe - just maybe - this will be your entry point into the blues, and if you like what you see, then c'mon and join the TBS.

I'll leave you with a few photos, which are just ok. I recently got the BlackBerry Bold - love it - and am still figuring out how to get decent photos. Plus, it doesn't help to be shooting in a dark nightclub. Anyhow, there will be much better photos taken by others coming soon on the website, as well as in the newsletter, which we do post online. Enjoy - and if you ever want to talk about the blues, I'm your man.

View from the bandstand before showtime




The Maple Blues Band - as good as it gets



Treasa Levasseur and The Sojourners - perfect blend of gospel and blues - magic



For many, the biggest highlight of the night was a video tribute to local legend, Jeff Healey, who sadly passed away way before his time about a year ago. Any fan of modern electric blues guitar will know his name, his amazing talent and unparalleled lap-style technique. The video tribute was prepared by local music entrepreneur Mako Funasaka, who also posted a very sharp photo gallery of the event on his site. Great stuff. Of course his photos will be much better than mine, but I did manage to get this shot showing Jeff's style of playing off the monitor showing the video.



TBS President Derek Andrews and Jay Sieleman



Shakura S'Aida - fabulous singer - see her if you can - or get her CDs



Shooting the shot - my neighbor, Frank Nagy photographs live music for a living, and his work is first rate. Got this impromptu photo of Frank lining up a stage shot.




And...bonus coverage - I shot a few short video clips during the performances. The quality is so-so - both audio and video - and it's nothing like what I used to get on the Nokia N-Series phones. Well, it's better than nothing, and here's the best clip of the bunch - and runs about 3 minutes. This will give you a nice taste of the music, and the clip features Toronto's own - Amos Garrett (of Midnight at the Oasis fame) - jamming with the Maple Blues house band. He's 67 years old, but don't let that fool ya, and is a great example of how music keeps you young! Enjoy.

video

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