What a week it's been. Not just my own musical breakthroughs (see below) but it's been sheer Toronto Blues/rock history. In the space of seven days, we've seen albums released by Mainline, Ronnie Hawkins and the Cameo Blues Band.
The Mainline release was at a new venue called club 279 (?) above the Hard Rock Cafe on Yonge St. It's a great, room, and that was my first time there. I don't know if they were charging at the door, they were certainly trying (unsuccessfully) to get people to check their coats.They were on stage, sitting down, ofcourse - they were know as the "sit down" band that plays "sit down" blues. I think the "sit-down" was more Mendelson than McKenna... Joe wasn't there and I suppose had nothing to do with it. After the set I went up to Ted Purdy and asked him if he remembered the day he auditioned for the band thirty years ago. I asked him if he played a Rickenbacker bass back then annd he did! Then I asked if he remembered lending it to this bearded guy who was also auditioning but had no bass. He did remember the incident and, of course, I was the guy with the beard. I told how I was in Toronto back then (1973) producing an album for Fraser & DeBolt for CBS Records and we had just finished a session with Joe guesting. If I remember correctly, Joe headed directly to the auditions from the studio and I just tgged along. To his credit, Ted got the gig. And went on to a long association with Joe, more than the others. Now I'm starting to wonder if I remember correctly about Ted being so willing to lend me his bass...Nah, I'm sure he was a real good sport about it. He's a corporate lawyer now.
Wish I had stuck around to say hi to the guys - at least the ones I know. Bob Adams was playing harp. He's a new addition but fits in great. I only met Mike McKenna a few times - starting back in '71 where he borrowed my '59 Strat for a while.
By the end of the 70's there were a few more great blues bands in Toronto and one of them was the Cameo Blues Band who were the house band at the legendary Isabella Hotel. Last night they too celebrated a new CD, a revival of sorts. I had never heard the band live, probably because I arrived in T.O. just as the Izzy was winding down. The were a little tighter than Mainline, I have to admit, and they put on a great show. I was standing at the back between Michael Fonfara and Rod Phillips, two of the top B3 players in town and they were in awe seeing their mentor at work. He's a little rougher than those two but they obviously learned as lot from him.
On the week-end, there was a huge all-star event at the colliseum in Hamilton for the launch of the long awaited Ronnie Hawkins CD (long-awaited? I *still* haven't heard it. Paul Benedict, who is recording my new album right now, was Ronnie's sound guy for five or seven years...a long time with Ronnie Hawkins, I'm sure. They called him "Eggs" Benedict.
Paul has been recording me for months witrh different guitars and amps and amp-simulators and we are getting to the main stretch - more on the recording in the next post.