Brian Blain

Originally from the hills of rural Quebec, now based in Toronto, Brian Blain has been performing his unique brand of slow-cooked, solid-groove folk blues for more than 40 years - soulful, thoughtful, always entertaining.

Ever since his 1973 recording, "The Story of the Magic Pick"(Good Noise/Polydor), Brian has been providing his wry commentary on the music scene in song. On previous recordings, he's sung about the state of the music business ("Blues is Hurting,“ “Who Paid You To Give Me The Blues,“ “One More Weasel“) and on the current recording he tells the near-death story of his former label in “The Day Coke Saved The Blues.“

“New Folk Blues“ was released in 2011 as a live, solo album (with George Koller on bass). The “live“ album became a “living“ album as Brian spent the last year adding new instrumentation on all the songs. It starts with New Orleans marching horns from Alison Young and Colleen Allen (the Blainettes horns) on "Forgotten", “Another Song About Alice“ gets violin and banjo from Drew Jurecka and Tim Posgate. There's a reggae percussion work-out with Trinidadian Wayne Stoute and the wonderful Michelle Josef, some sweet slide from Harry Manx on a French tune, barrelhouse piano from Toronto expat Patrick Godfrey and organ grooves galore from Australian Hammond B3 sensation Clayton Doley. "The Ghost of Clinton's Tavern" is a full-tilt electronic ambient remix by Blain's son Joel.

Since arriving in Toronto from rural Quebec in 1990, Brian has been performing locally as a solo artist, and with a who's who of Canadian blues greats including Scott "Professor Piano" Cushnie, Suzie Vinnick, Gene Taylor of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and the late Long John Baldry. Brian toured Europe twice with harmonica player Butch Coulter and for three weeks backing up the legendary Kathi Macdonald of Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Big Brother and the Holding company (after Janis) and Baldry's band for 15 years.

Brian's biggest boosters have always been the musicians he's come to know both on stage and behind the scenes. It was Toronto bassist Victor Bateman who convinced him to demo some of his original tunes after they jammed together at Brian's 50th birthday party. This led to the 1999 release of his indie CD "Who Paid You To Give Me The Blues?" Victor and many other musical friends joined Brian in 2005 on his highly acclaimed release on the Northern Blues label, “Overqualified for the Blues.“

Brian occasionally gathers some of the leading bluegrass players in town for a “Bluesgrass“ show and also offers a full-blown blues revue called " Brian and the Blainettes" featuring the all-star backup band from Toronto's Women's Blues Revue. His year-long residency at Toronto's Tranzac Club in the 90s featured a succession of Canada's greatest blues artists, Morgan Davis, Michael Pickett, Carlos del Junco, Madagascar Slim, Papa John King and many others. More recently, his blues “campfires“ have been a popular component of music conferences like the Folk Alliance and the Blues Summit and featured high-profile artists like Matt Anderson, David Gogo and Ken Whiteley. His weekly campfires at Highway 61 (and later the Gladstone Hotel) were a stopover for many touring blues artists including Charlie A'Court from the Maritimes, Big Dave McLean from out west and Sherman Lee Dillon from Mississippi. Brian's after-hours blues jam at the Toronto Downtown Jazz festival had jazz stars like Antonio Hart, Russell Malone and Roy Hargrove playing 12-bar blues and loving it. Every year Brian also participates in the Toronto Blues Society Blues in the Schools program.

Brian launched his solo career when he was discovered by Montreal producer André Perry who signed him to his Good Noise label. Brian performed with a back-up vocal group called The Blainettes, opening concerts for Lou Reed and Seals & Crofts and stopping the show at the legendary James Bay Benefit Concert that featured Loudon Wainright and Joni Mitchell. The recording featured members of the Mothers of Invention and the Manhattan Transfer, Tom "Bones" Malone and legendary drummer Jim Gordon (Derek and the Dominoes).

Following a stint in the late 60s as a junior copywriter at an Ontario ad agency, he returned to Quebec, playing with and producing records for two pioneering groups that blossomed from the hills of Quebec's Eastern Townships: Fraser & DeBolt were the original “acid-folk“ group and Oliver Klaus, probably the first "indie" band in Quebec to have their own studio and press their own records.

Brian has played all kinds of music from classical to rock but has come full circle to where he started, the folk blues. His early exposure to the blues consisted of one weekly radio show on French CBC radio, a reel-to-reel tape of Rev. Gary Davis and a mail-order instructional LP called "The Art of the Folk Blues Guitar" He learned every tune in the book and he still plays some of those songs today...on the same guitar!

He has worked in just about every aspect of the music business, on stage and behind the scenes as a recording artist, sideman, producer, manager, music writer/editor, publisher, director and tireless promoter of Canadian blues artists. Throughout these musical adventures, Brian has always been involved in printing and publishing (he started at The Sherbrooke Daily Record in 1963, back when they were still using hot type) and these days he is the part-time (barely)managing editor of MapleBlues, Crescendo and torontojazz.com

Concerts

Wed Jun 28 3:00pm
Free Admission
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