In England it’s said that April is the cruellest month. In Canada it’s March and April. This is the time of year when warm weather teases and Winter refuses to loosen its grip. One day you’re walking around in a T-shirt, the next you’re back in the parka.
Forecasts drive you nuts, promising warmer weather Thursday --- make that Friday --- okay, let’s say Monday…maybe.
It’s enough to make the strongest man come down with a case of the Blues.
And while “The Blues” themselves may have been born in the deep South, nurtured by men who never saw snow and had deeper reasons for clawing at the bitter pills Life had served them; trust me when I say that even the palest Canadian looks out his morning window at yet another dull day and “gets” The Blues.
When I first moved to Toronto in the early 1970’s, there was a thriving Blues scene. Clubs up and down Yonge Street showcased incredible bands like “Powder Blues”, “King Biscuit Boy” and “The Lincolns”, led by inimitable bassist Prakash John. “The Downchild Blues Band” literally lived at Grossman’s tavern, where you could spend $2 for a pitcher of beer on a Saturday afternoon, listening to set after set, while guys like Taj Mahal were doing the same in a chair leaned up against the back wall.
I literally worked side by side with Morgan Davis as he scraped together the stake to cut his first album. David Wilcox and Billy James busked on street corners. Long John Baldry moved here from the UK and must have sent letters home, because it was soon commonplace for bands like “Savoy Brown” to show up for a gig at The Brunswick House while “The Rolling Stones” made the city their second home.
There are so many people I could choose to give you a taste of the current Canadian Blues scene. Morgan Davis keeps whipping up great music like “Waffle House Blues”. Prakash John still plays with “The Lincolns” but has also fathered a second generation of Rythmn and Blues brilliance in his son Jordan.
But I think the guy the rest of the world most needs to meet is Matt Andersen. This is a young man from New Brunswick with immense talent. It’s been said that while the Blues have to be sung from your balls, Matt Andersen sings them from Nature’s own balls.
This morning, when Nature must feel like its nuts are hanging from a brass monkey and the sun is never coming back, Matt’s version of “Ain’t No Sunshine” is about as fitting as it gets.
In the rest of the world, March comes in like a Lion and goes out like a lamb. Here (with props to Dennis Miller or Bill Murray) it comes in like a Lion and leaves like a Sasquatch on bad drugs. Use this to get you through…
And Enjoy Your Sunday.