The Maple Blues Band visit the Crescent City with their New Orleans-flavoured single Hey Nola — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
The latest track from the award-winning all-star Toronto big band’s just-released album Let’s Go, the instrumental Hey Nola takes a joyous stroll down Bourbon Street, fuelled by a funky backbeat, intertwined horn lines and rollicking boogie-woogie piano. If this doesn’t get the party started, nothing will.
No surprise there — after all, The Maple Blues Band are tailor-made for a big bash. For nearly a quarter century, they have been the cornerstone of the Toronto Blues Society’s annual Maple Blues Awards, honouring the creme de la creme in Canadian blues. With Let’s Go, the band step into the spotlight, showcasing lively instrumental compositions the all-star ensemble have created over the course of their decades together.
Bassist, bandleader and musical director Gary Kendall — also known for his association with Downchild Blues Band — started the project back in 1998, after a meeting of the Toronto Blues Society. “I boldly told all present that the music that accompanied the award presentations should be better. The comeback was, ‘Let’s see what you can do.’ It must be working because the band has been the centerpiece of the Maple Blues Awards ever since,” Kendall recalls.
Kendall dreamed of putting together a big band that could tackle a wide variety of styles, including Delta and Chicago blues, New Orleans funk, zydeco and — most of all — Canadian blues, and recruited some of the finest folks on the northern blues scene to join him in making that dream come true.
Providing the theme and background music for the event, as well as accompanying the special guests performing at the awards ceremony, the group is made up of many MBA winners and nominees. The band’s current lineup includes Pat Carey on tenor saxophone, Teddy Leonard on guitar, Al Lerman on harmonica and acoustic guitar, Jim Casson on drums and percussion, Howard Moore on trumpet, Lance Anderson on Hammond B3, piano and accordion, Alison Young on baritone, tenor and soprano saxophones, Meirion Kelly on trombone and Roshane Wright on percussion.
Kendall calls Let’s Go a true group effort, featuring contributions from band members both past and present, with songwriting credits drawn from over the group’s 24-year history. “The songwriting helped The Maple Blues Band create a personal and unique sound. It’s what I refer to as ‘big band blues,’ ” he notes. “The men and women I chose to surround myself with in The Maple Blues Band are part of the enormous southern Ontario pool of blues talent. Each one of them is a star.”
With the release of Let’s Go, The Maple Blues Band plan to take that irresistible big-band blues sound and star-quality roster to the next level, representing both its venerable past and an exciting new chapter in its ongoing commitment to the very best in music.
Check out the animated video for Hey Nola above, listen to Let’s Go below, and party with The Maple Blues Band at their website.