EAST SIDE BLUES is a series that takes place in the east end of Toronto at a historic club, The Duke (1225 Queen St. E.), features some of the top Blues Players from all over Canada. Now entering its 3rd year with our special guests:
Doctor Nick has been deep into the tradition of post-war electric Blues for nearly a half century now, ever since he walked out of Sam the Record Man in the early 1970's carrying under his arm the then newly released double LP of Little Walter's greatest hits titled "Boss Blues Harmonica". In the years following, he literally wore the grooves off that vinyl, absorbing almost through osmosis the unique sound of Walter's sax-like tonality, as well as the artful manner in which it was incorporated in the ensemble sound. It has truly been a life long passion and pursuit, and Doctor Nick has earned the respect and acknowledgement from his musical peers as being one of the foremost exponents of early amplified harmonica in the South Side Chicago style.
Doctor Nick has been playing with his band the Rollercoasters since the mid 1990's around southern Ontario and currently can be heard at the Rex Hotel where he has held a monthly gig for the past 20 years or so. Oh how time flies! There, his fans and followers have enjoyed a presentation of Early Electric Blues that is deeply respectful of the greats who laid the foundation of this incredibly music.
MARK"BIRD"STAFFORD ~ It would be so appropriate to be able to imply that Mark “Bird” Stafford earned his nickname from his ability to soar on the harmonica in the fiery fashion of Charlie Parker. Sorry. Different “Bird”. But – like Parker – Mark shares a phenomenal passion for making music and, as he’s been performing since he was knee-high to a sharecropper, he’s developed a musical voice that’s become somewhat legendary in these parts – and beyond.
For good reason. A serious student of “fat tone” harmonica, he subscribes to the teachings of the masters: Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter Jacobs, Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells and James Cotton, imbuing what he’s learned with a healthy dose off his own creativity. He also injects these influences with the spirited new blood of cats including Kim Wilson, William Clarke and Rod Piazza. That’s a serious stack of mentorship but The Bird has listened and listened hard. And he plays back the lessons learned with all the love and respect befitting a forever blues student who is more than ready to register his own contribution to the genre. From the frenzy he can generate from a crowd and on a dance floor to the smooth, mercurial side of his musical personality, Mark pours it on with a highly-polished singing voice and the comparably subtle, expressive tones of his accomplished harpmanship. Those who have been to Bird’s church are the first to testify but never the last.
JULIAN FAUTH ~ is a piano player and singer it the tradition of per-war barrelhouse blues, with influences from Gopel, jazz, and odds and ends. He writes his own songs as well as creating unique arrangements of traditional material. He has recorded 3 CDs for Electro-Fi and on several others. He was nominated for the Juno Award for Best Blues Album in 2006 and 2009 and won the Juno in 2009. He has also won the Maple Blues Award for the Best Piano Player of the Year and was nominated in several other categories.Julian plays regularly in Toronto and has performed across Canada, in the USA, Russia, Cuba, Germany, and Belgium. He grew up listing to Blues and was a protégé of Mississippi Blues Master Mel Brown. Julian Has opened for Johnny Winter, John Hammond Jr. and John Mayall, has recorded and performed with American Blues veterans such as Finis Tasby, Fruteland Jackson and Harmonica Shah and has collaborated with many of Canada’s best Blues Musicians.
AARON KAZMER ~
Music, especially the Blues, has always been a big part of Aaron’s life. His love for the Blues and Harmonica started when he had the chance to spend a weekend with the Country Blues Legends SONNY TERRY & BROWNIE MCGEE in 1976. It wasn’t until many years after the life-changing meeting with the legends the Aaron started down the musical road of the Blues and Harmonica playing.
Wanting to learn the instrument by trying to copy the masters of the old country styles like Sonny Terry, DelFord Bialy and Sonny Boy Williamson I /II and quickly realizing that he could only go so far, so he then started to go to all the live Blues shows he could which sparked the interest and discovery of the CHICGO Styles harmonica players like Little Walter, Junior Wells, Big Walther Horton and Charlie Musselwhite lead to him going to all the clubs around Toronto and trying to learn form all the master he could. After a few years of this he quickly became friends with some of the city best players and even one of the worlds best! "It was at this point I realized that this little instrument is not easy and I needed lots of help to learn how to really play it." It was then that he started getting lessons form people like Michael Pickett, Mark "Bird" Stafford, Carlos Del Junco to name a few. This lead to Aaron playing at local singer song writer jams with a few friends, sitting in with some of the best Blues bands in town! And now the Blues took a real hold of him, he was hooked!
Aaron formed a couple of duos that would go to all the jams they could which lead to the beginning of getting some little shows and even booking some of his teachers as guests (which got them a bigger audience) and forced him to work harder at learning and growing as player. It was at this point that he met a few other players that wanted to put a band together. So Aaron found a little club that was looking to have live music and even a weekly band to host a Jam, so SECTION 8 Rhythm and Blues Band was born. Section 8 played together weekly for about 10 years which gave Aaron a lot of time to learn, practice and grow as a player. It was during these years that he not only grew but had the chance to play with many other musicians which gave he the opportunity to get asked to guest with some of the best Blues band in town at the time and even asked to record some songs on some up and coming artists. His first major break in recording came when he was asked to do a song with DUBMATIX, who is a world renowned reggae dub artist, doing the award winning track “CHAMPIONSHIP SOUND” form his 2006 CD Atomic Subsonic and again in 2018 on SLY & ROBBIE meet DUBMATIX Overdubbed. No to mentions performing with some of the Top Blues Band in the Country!
and our incredible EAST SIDE BLUES band consisting of:
The Burgess Brothers ~ (Chris on Guitar Tyler on Drums) have been a mainstay on the Toronto Blues scene for over 30 years. They have toured and recorded with some of Canada's most celebrated artists, including; Jeff Healey, Michelle Wright, Downchild Blues Band and Stompin' Tom Connors. They have also worked with an impressive list of internationally renowned Blues artists such as Lucky Peterson, Luther Johnson, A.C. Reed, Fenton Robinson, Guitar Shorty, Joe Louis Walker, Snooky Prior and many more. They front their own band, "The Burgess Brothers" and continue to work as sidemen for a number of well known artists on the local scene.
James Rasmussen on Bass ~ One of the top bass players around, James hails originally from Michigan but now calls Toronto his home. James is deeply rooted in the Detroit blues and soul scene where he spent his formative years honing his craft. Al Hill and the Headlights, Big Dave and the Ultrasonics, Lady Sunshine and the X Band, Kim Wilson, Rusty Zinn and Sleepy LaBeef are among those he worked with in the Detroit area. Since moving to Toronto he has enjoyed performing with many area blues artists including David Rotundo, Shawn Kellerman, and James Anthony. He has also backed up internationally known artists Lucky Peterson, Lee Oskar, and Texas bluesman Sherman Robertson. James also can often be seen all around the GTA pounding on the piano in bars and in Etobicoke at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church where he leads a Gospel youth choir.