Author Archives: RicoF


The 2016 Beaches International Jazz Festival is once again presenting top flight Blues entertainment. In addition to that being offered at StreetFest, (July 21 – 23; Queen St. E.), Blues will be featured as part of the Main Stage concerts at Woodbine Park, (July 15 – 24):

THE GHOST TOWN BLUES BAND (Memphis) – Formed in 2009 as a trio by Matt Isbell, the driving force behind GTBB, the 6 piece aggregation is exciting, high energy, and versatile. The “Blues Band” label is misleading in that their repertoire encompasses a number of genres, they like to stretch out into improvisational jams, and they look like they’re having a blast doing it. The sheer joy of making music can’t help but be infectious and adds a visible element as well. (When was the last time that a Blues band opened the show with a second line horn entrance?)

JOHNNY RAWLS BIG BAND (Purvis Mississippi) – Johnny Rawls is a Blues Blueblood. Born and raised in Mississippi, Johnny spent over 2 decades apprenticing as a sideman to top masters of the idiom including Little Johnny Taylor, Z.Z. Hill, and O.V. Wright. Johnny served as Wright’s guitarist and bandleader from 1974 until his death in 1980 and cites Wright as his greatest influence. Johnny is a multi Blues Music Award nominee and winner including a 2016 nomination for “Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year”.

BLACKBURN  – Given their lineage – their father, highly regarded keyboard player Bobby Dean Blackburn, a seminal figure of Toronto’s Blues and R&B scene in the 60’s – coupled with their evident talents, it’s not surprising that Blackburn stands as Toronto’s First family of Funk and Soul.
Blackburn, descendants of fugitive slaves who escaped to Canada in the 1850’s, lean hard on their legacy while remaining fiercely proud of their home grown talent. The core group consists of Duane Blackburn (vocals & keys), Brooke Blackburn (guitar & vocals), Cory Blackburn (drums & percussion) and Andrew Stewart on bass. Helping light the match on a scorching amalgam of gut bucket blues, soulful R&B, and hip shakin’ funk are Neil Brathwaite (sax) and Ted Peters (trombone).
Recipients of a 2016 Juno Award nomination for “Blues Album Of The Year” on the strength of their latest release Brothers In This World, Blackburn make a most welcome return to Beaches Jazz.

 DAVID VEST & THE WILLING VICTIMS (Victoria) – The son of a sharecropper, the Huntsville Alabama born, Victoria B.C. resident is still going strong with no stop sign in sight some 50 plus years since he first stepped on stage with the likes of Roy Orbison and Big Joe Turner. With deep roots in Blues based music that originated and flourished in the American South on the cusp of the 1950’s, Vest presents unpretentious down home juke joint jumping music that knows no boundaries. He’s a master of all the piano styles and can adeptly cover all the bases, be it Boogie-Woogie, Jump Blues, Blues, R&B, no holds barred Rock & Roll, Country, you name it. Vest is a multi Maple Blues Award winner (“Piano Player of The Year”).

SAMANTHA MARTIN & DELTA SUGAR – A four time Maple Blues Awards nominee, here’s what Grammy Award winner author Rob Bowman has to say about Samantha:

“Bubbling up from the cauldron of roots Americana music, Samantha Martin is an artist of extraordinary power, gravitas and deep-seated emotion. On first listen, one is immediately struck by the awesome presence and sheer magnitude of her other worldly voice. Cigarette-ravaged and whiskey-soaked in the extreme, Martin’s pipes are capable of conveying an infinite range of emotions, bringing one to tears in one instance and in the next uplifting one’s soul with an empowered declaration of hope, faith and desire.”

PAUL JAMES – Paul James is a household name for any serious music fan. He’s the recipient of numerous awards, (including the Juno), and has left an indelible mark on the Canadian and international music scene. An outstanding guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Paul is a true cultural icon who has earned the respect of his peers and fans alike.

Visit the Beaches Jazz website for exact dates and times:

Tad Robinson Has Been Nominated For A 9th Blues Music Award!

On the strength of his 6th release, Day Into Night, (Severn Records), Tad has earned a nomination for “Soul Blues Album”. This is Tad’s 4th such nomination in his bag of 9 overall nominations, (including “Soul Blues Male Artist”):

2005 – “Soul Blues Album” (Did You Ever Wonder?)

             “Soul Blues Male Artist”

2008 – “Soul Blues Album” (New Point Of View)

             “Soul Blues Male Artist”

2009 – “Soul Blues Male Artist”

2011 – “Soul Blues Album” (Back In Style)

            “Soul Blues Male Artist”

            “Song” (‘It Rained All Night’ written by Steve Gomes)

2015 – “Soul Blues Album” (Day Into Night)

The Blues Music Awards presented by The Blues Foundation are recognized as Blues music’s highest honour. Winners will be announced at the annual Blues Music Awards ceremony in Memphis on Thursday May 5, 2016.


After a number of years I’ve decided to refresh my BLUES FOR A BIG TOWN website. I’ve kept all of the relevant information from my old site and I’ll be continually updating with all the current information that fits. A shout out to Marcus Ferrara, MOSQUITO DESIGNS, for the heavy lifting.

Rest In Peace


Johnnie Bassett

“Gentleman of the Blues”

Oct. 9, 1935 – Aug. 4, 2012



“Soul Singer Supreme”

May 24, 1944 – June 5, 2012


Al Kirkcaldy

September 29, 1953 – February 12, 2009

Some Quotes:

On the music business:

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side. – Hunter S. Thompson

On the record business:

“It’s like going across the river on the back of an alligator.” – Tom Waits

On one of my long time heroes:

Once at a television taping, Little Richard’s mother, Leva Mae, took Dion aside and asked him, “You the boy that sings ‘Ruby Baby’? Son, you got soul.”

Al K’s All Day Blues Party

Al K’s All Day Blues Party

A Musical Tribute To Al Kirkcaldy

Market Hall, Peterborough

Sun. Apr. 5, 2009

The musical celebration in honour of Al Kirkcaldy was an outstanding success! Al would have been proud.

The audience was treated to wall to wall music over the course of two 4 hour shows courtesy of a virtual who’s who of the Peterborough and Toronto Blues scenes plus special guest Darrell Nulisch. All generously donated their time and artistry to this momentous occasion. And, each show featured a special screening of a heartwarming video tribute to Al thoughtfully created by Mako Funasaka of talkin’ blues in addition to a variety of Blues related prizes.

As a final salute to Al’s memory, a total of $3,700 was generated for the Blues In The Schools program!

“Thanks Al … for your love of the Blues”