Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Remembering the Legendary Ronnie Hawkins

The music world lost a titan on May 29, 2022 when Canadian icon Ronnie Hawkins passed away. Our condolences to his family, friends and fans.

Ronnie was born in Arkansas but moved to Ontario early in his career due to the great reception he received here. He's also responsible for helping launch the careers of many musicians such as the Band, Crowbar and many more.  

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Robbie Robertson (The Band)

My heart sank when I heard “The Hawk” just flew into the sunset. 

The story of The Band began with Ronnie Hawkins. He was our mentor. He taught us the rules of the road.

Ronnie Hawkins brought me down from Canada to the Mississippi delta when I was 16. He recorded two songs I’d written and thought I might be talented. He tried me out on guitar and bass the only problem was; I’m too young to play in the clubs they toured, I was too inexperienced, not a good enough musician yet, and there are NO Canadians in southern rock and roll bands. But I practiced until my fingers were bleeding and he ended up hiring me against all odds. 

Ron prided himself in always having top notch players in his group. Levon Helm his drummer in the Hawks and I talked Ron into hiring Rick Danko on bass and vocals, Richard Manuel on piano and vocals and Garth Hudson on organ and sax. Along with Levon and me this became the magic combination. 

Ronnie was the godfather. The one who made this all happen. 

He had us rehearsing constantly into the wee hours. We balked about it, but we got better and better. Our goal whether we knew it or not. 

After the Hawks left Ron and went out on our own, we joined up with Bob Dylan. Next the Hawks became The Band and the rest is history, as they say. 

All starting out with Ronnie Hawkins. 

He was not only a great artist, a tremendous performer and bandleader, but had a style of humor unequaled. Fall down funny and completely unique. Yep, God only made one of those. And he will live in our hearts forever. 

My deepest condolences to his family. 

Bless his soul.

Jesse O'Brien

This is a tough one. RIP Ronnie Hawkins, a brilliant, hilarious, once in a lifetime entertainer and family friend. My first stint as a Hawk was in the summer at 15 years old before going back to school.  Thanks Ronnie for so many laughs and lessons, a musical education like no other, and thanks for letting a young kid wear your hat. 


Jack de Keyzer

Such a generous man, he was  a father to me, I joined at age 19,  but he told everyone I was 16  lol.  Ronnie Hawkins introduced me to the real  rock and roll lifestyle. We played everywhere from concert halls to biker bars, to supper clubs to strip joints.   Through Ronnie, I met  BB King and Johnny Rivers and Roy Buchanan,  Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley and   Ian and Sylvia.  We played with Levon Helm and Dr John and had a great band with King Biscuit Boy, John Till, Mike Short, Stan Szeleste, Carl Mathers, Rob Johnston and Wayne King to name a few who are all lifelong friends.  An amazing legacy of great entertainment; humour and music.  RIP Ronnie Hawkins.

Bill Culp Productions

I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the legendary Ronnie “The Hawk” Hawkins today. 

While I was plying my trade as a young musician living in Toronto in the 1980’s, I always looked up to Ronnie Hawkins. He was the “king” of the local “Rock’n’Roll” scene while I was just starting out. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to catch his live act on numerous occasions and eventually got to meet the man...more than once. 

It turned out “The Hawk” was a boxing fan, just like me. We’d run into each other at boxing matches, whether it was a live event featuring Canadian Olympian Shawn O’Sullivan, or a closed circuit match featuring Oscar De La Hoya, Ronnie Hawkins was always there. “The Hawk” was a true “man of the people” who loved to talk about music, boxing, and was always quick with a one-liner. 

As I reflect today on this “larger-than-life” character, it’s clear “The Hawk” had a huge influence on my own music career. We both loved “Rockabilly” music, playing with a high-energy, talented band of musicians, and putting on a show. Thanks Ronnie!! 


He will never be forgotten.

Ron Cole

I got to meet Ronnie Hawkins at his home in March. Gary Lucas invited Wendell Ferguson, Mike McCurlie and myself to come play a few BAND songs with accordion, guitar and mando. He loved it. Even said I had a bit of Garth Hudson going on in my playing which was a big compliment for me. Woo, the stories. LOL! Great to have met The Legend, The Hawk and sad to see him go.

The Smoke Wagon Blues Band

Very sad to hear of the passing of the legendary Ronnie Hawkins. Even though Ronnie was originally American his finger prints are all over Canadian Rock'n'roll & Blues history. Especially here in the Hammer and Ontario you'd be hard pressed to find a Rock or Blues group that wasn't touched or directly influenced in some way by the Hawk. 

The Smoke Wagon Blues Band is no different: We got our big break opening for the Hawk back in 2003 at The Burlington Sound of Music Festival. Ronnie had been fighting cancer and hadn't played for some years so 50,000 folks packed into Spencer Smith Park for the show. At that time we were still holding residency in the small cubs of Hamilton's Hess Village when the Hawk requested a local blues band open for him.  We felt so out of our element walking out on that big stage, we couldn't see where the crowd ended gulp! Ronnie was so gracious with us, offering lots of liquid courage back in his trailer as encouragement haha. After the show he invited us back to his trailer for lots of party favors, and to give us shit for covering the same song in our set list (Born in Chicago) haha When he realized my mom was trying to  talk to me through the back gates he said get your mom in here whom was dying to meet him. 

We most definitely got the full Ronnie experience that evening. I met Ronnie a few times over the years but I'll always remember that first moment. Its pretty damn cool to get the chance to share the stage with one of your idols and he sure made it special. Long live the Hawk in our musical memories.

Links: King Biscuit BoyMore KBB StoriesDuane Allman, Video above courtesy of Deep Track Zach

Video above courtesy of Classic Music Videos & Pictures 1960s

Links: The BandMore Stories of The BandVideo above courtesy of plimfec

Links: Ronnie HawkinsMore Ronnie Hawkins Stories,

Previous ('Grand River Blues Society' Solo Blues Challange Rep Chosen)

Monday, May 30, 2022

CONGRATS AND GOOD LUCK! Brooke Blackburn to Represent the Grand River Blues Society at the 2023 International Blues Challenge

Toronto musician Brooke Blackburn was chosen to represent the Grand River Blues Society for the 2023 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. On May 29, 2022, after a hard-fought musical battle at Bobby O'Brien's in Kitchener, judges picked him to make us proud next year when he gets up on the international stage. He also gets a spot on the prestigious Kitchener Blues Festival.

Here's the announcement and acceptance speech.

Here's a performance of one the songs that helped him get the win.


Below are links to videos of performances from the other amazing contestants:

Sunday, May 29, 2022

CONGRATS! 2022 Hamilton Arts Awards Recipients

Recently, the 2022 Hamilton Arts Awards recipients were unveiled. They'll all be honoured at a celebration on June 9, 2022 as part of Hamilton Arts Week in association with the Hamilton Arts Council.

Here's the complete winners list. Music-related nominees are bolded: 

Lifetime Achievement Award: Harrison Kennedy

Links: Harrison KennedyMore Harrison Kennedy StoriesVideo above courtesy of Paul Mill

Arts Champion: Jamie (Gunner) Smith (Steel City Music), Art to Go Podcast (Nancy Benoy, Cornelia Peckart), David Beresford

Creator Awards: Jaclyn Desforges (poet, writer), Yuma Dean Hester (Bawaadan Collective)(multi-discipline), Terrance Odette (filmmaker), Joe Ollmann (cartoonist), Marla Panko (painter), Emma Smith (ceramics), Santee Smith (multi-discipline), Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (theatre)

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Friday, May 27, 2022

Fiery New Album from Lester Smith & Trickbag

Ancaster singer/songwriter Lester Smith has teamed with his good pals in Trickbag to forge a fiery new album, Another Day in Paradise. Together, they've created a wonderful melding of Blues, Roots and a little Country. 

As always, Les is a skilled songwriter and storyteller. He touches on themes of love, hope, disaster, survival and more. The tracks can be touching, fun, inspiring, intimate and poignant. Above all - it will move you. Les and Trickbag can also groove with the best of them.

You can pick up this unforgettable album at the CD Release on at Stonewalls (Hamilton) on May 28th at 8pm or at any of his other live shows. Picks and Sticks (Hamilton) and Looney Tunes (Burlington) have copies on hand as well. Also, it can be download via Bandcamp soon

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Monday, May 23, 2022

'Bittersweet' by Chairmen of the Board (featuring Hamilton's Harrison Kennedy) Turns 50

This year (1972), Bittersweetthe incredible album from the unforgettable soul group, The Chairmen of the Board, turns 50 years old. At the time, Hamilton Blues legend, Harrison Kennedy was a member of the popular trio. This Invictus Records release would end up being Harrison's final album with the ensemble.

Harrison had this say about this classic album:

My first blues tune on any COB’s releases was Weary Traveller.

Men are Getting Scarce was in protest of the war.

This release was my favorite because of the Country Blues feel. I played harp on Elmo James.

Video above courtesy of Missing Oldies

Video above courtesy of Anthony Rosano

Video above courtesy of uk70singles

Links: Harrison KennedyMore Harrison Kennedy StoriesChairmen of the BoardMore Chairmen of the Board Stories, More 50th Anniversary Albums

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Happy Victoria Day! Videos by Rock'n Blues Boys, Wax Mannequin, Leonard Cohen

Update of 2020 post.

Video above courtesy of the The Rock'n Blues Boys

Links: Leonard CohenMore Leonard Cohen StoriesVideo above courtesy of Danielba

Links: Wax MannequinMore Wax Mannequin StoriesVideo above courtesy of zuniordave

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Sunday, May 22, 2022

GOOD LUCK! 2022 Hamilton Arts Awards Short List

From the Hamilton Arts Awards website:

These remarkable local artists, arts collectives, arts community leaders and volunteers have been named to the 2022 City of Hamilton Arts Awards Short List in three categories:

Creator Award (29 shortlisted)

Conferred to individual artists and artistic collectives (including bands) working in any artistic discipline and at any career level.

Arts Champion Award (3 shortlisted)

Honours the work of arts sector volunteers, advocates, or board members who are essential in supporting success in the arts community.

Lifetime Achievement Award (5 shortlisted)

Recognizes those who have contributed substantially to the artistic vitality of the city over the course of a career.

Award recipients will be selected by a jury of leading arts professionals. Recipients to be announced in the coming weeks all will be celebrated at a multi-venue celebration on June 9, 2022 as part of Hamilton Arts Week in association with the Hamilton Arts Council.

Here's the complete short list. Music-related nominees are bolded.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Arts Champion

Creator Awards

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Friday, May 20, 2022

Happy World Fiddle Day! Videos by Liam McGlashon, Matt Coleman, Ever-Lovin' Jug Band

Update of 2016 Post

Links: More Liam McGlashon Stories, Ferguson YoungMore Charlie Daniels Covers/StoriesVideo above courtesy of The Urban Fiddler

Links: More Matt Coleman StoriesVideo above courtesy of Matt Coleman

Links: Ever-Lovin' Jug BandMore Ever-Lovin' Jug Band StoriesVideo above courtesy of Jazzbo43

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May 2022 Episode of 'Sold on Hamilton with Judy Marsales' featuring Darcy & Astrid Hepner

On May 7, 2022 CHML 900AM in Hamilton aired another fabulous episode of the 'Sold On Hamilton with Judy Marsales' radio show.

This wonderful show is generally broadcast on the first Saturday on the month between 11am and 12pm. It is hosted by Judy Marsales, owner of Judy Marsales Real Estate Ltd (a proud HBL sponsor) and an amazing local music supporter. The program showcases the best and brightest citizens of the Hammer, including many musicians. Judy also discusses the Hamilton housing market.

The May 2022 show featured local talented musician Darcy Hepner and Astrid Hepner from An Instrument for Every Child and real estate broker, Tom Fleming from Judy Marsales Real Estate Ltd.

Links: Darcy Hepner, More Darcy Hepner StoriesAstrid HepnerMore Astrid Hepner StoriesShow above courtesy of Global NewsSold on HamiltonMore 'Sold on Hamilton' Stories

Video above courtesy of McMasterUTV

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Monday, May 16, 2022

The Triumphant Return of 'Blues With a Feeling'

The biggest Blues night in the land is back in 2022! After a COVID-caused hiatus, Blues With a Feeling is making a triumphant return. This incredible fundraiser honouring the late Blues giant King Biscuit Boy is always the highlight of the year.

On Saturday, June 4th, 2002 at 8pm, the Leander Boat Club will be rockin' to the sounds of Trickbag (featuring guests Lester Smith & Sonny Del-Rio), Tim Gibbons and the Swampbusters plus the Cameo Blues Band. A great deal for only $25.

Previous (Juno Winners)

Sunday, May 15, 2022

CONGRATS! 2022 Juno Winners! Includes local artists

The 2022 Junos were awarded on May 14 & 15.

Here is the opening night awards ceremony

The televised awards ceremony on May 15.

Links: Juno AwardsMore Juno Stories, Videos above courtesy of CBC Music

Below is a complete list of winners. Local nominees are bolded.


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Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Monday, May 9, 2022

GOOD LUCK! Artists from Waterdown's Stony Plain Records Nominated for 2022 Living Blues Awards! VOTE NOW! Deadline June 15.

Voting is now open for the 2022 Living Blues Awards. Many talented artists signed to Waterdown's Stony Plain Records (including Ottawa's Sue Foley) are in the running. The voting survey allows for write ins, so feel free to add your favourites as well.

Click here to vote - deadline is June 15, 2022.


Album (New Recordings)

  • Pinky's Blues by Sue Foley (released by Waterdown's Stony Plain Records)

    Links: Sue FoleyMore Sue Foley StoriesVideo above courtesy of Sue Foley

  • 662 by Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
  • Spider in My Stew by Bob Corritore & Friends
  • You Gotta Have It by Tia Carroll
  • Living in a Burning House by Selwyn Birchwood
  • Now Dig This! by Crystal Thomas
  • Be Ready When I Call You by Guy Davis
  • Not in My Lifetime by Wee Willie Walker
  • Sippnotized by Mr. Sipp
  • Dear America by Eric Bibb
  • Long as I Got My Guitar by Zac Harmon
  • I Be Trying by Cedric Burnside
  • Raisin' Cain by Chris Cain
  • Surrender by Clarence Spady
  • 75 and Alive by Johnny Tucker featuring Kid Ramos and the Allstars

Artist of the Year (Female)



Album (Reissue Recordings)

  • The Henry Glover Story (Various Artists)
  • Matchbox Bluesmaster Series, Set 1 (Various Artists)
  • Down Home Blues: Miami, Atlanta & the South Eastern States – Blues in the Alley (Various Artists)
  • Original West Side Chicago Blues Guitar: The Hip Linkchan Story, 1959-1988
  • I Love to Jump the Boogie by Eddie "Guitar" Burns
  • Chicago / The Blues / Today! (Various Artists)
  • R&B in DC 1940-1960: Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop, Rockin' Rhythm and More (Various Artists) 
  • True Genius by Ray Charles
  • The Jimmie Vaughan Story
  • Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans: Selected Singles As and Bs 1949-1962 by Tommy Ridgley

Artist (Male)

  • Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
  • Tommy Castro
  • Bobby Rush
  • Mr. Sipp
  • Taj Mahal
  • Sugaray Rayford
  • Jimmy Johnson
  • Bob Corritore
  • Cedric Burnside
  • Chris Cain


  • The Last Soul Company: The Malaco Records Story by Rob Bowman
  • The Blues: The Authentic Narrative of My Music and Culture by Chris Thomas King
  • The Texas Blues of Smokey Hogg by Guido van Rijn
  • Timekeeper: My Life in Rhythm by Howard Grimes with Preston Lauterbach
  • I Don't Like the Blues: Race, Place & the Backbeat of Black Life by B. Brian Foster
  • I Ain't Studdin' Ya: My American Blues Story by Bobby Rush with Herb Powell
  • New York City Blues: Postwar Portraits from Harlem to the Village and Beyond by Larry Simon
  • King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B. King by Daniel de Vise


  • Billy Branch
  • Bob Corritore
  • Phil Wiggins
  • Kim Wilson
  • Mark Hummel
  • Andrew Alli
  • Charlie Musselwhite
  • Rick Estrin
  • Sugar Blue
  • Jason Ricci

Live Performer

  • Taj Mahal
  • Bobby Rush
  • Shemekia Copeland
  • Buddy Guy
  • Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
  • Victor Wainwright
  • Cedric Burnside
  • Crystal Thomas
  • Jimmy Johnson
  • Mr. Sipp


  • Shemekia Copeland
  • Don Bryant
  • Trudy Lynn
  • Sugaray Rayford
  • Mavis Staples
  • Diunna Greenleaf
  • Crystal Thomas
  • John Németh
  • Johnny Tucker
  • Robert Finley

Friday, May 6, 2022

CONGRATS! Sue Foley (from Waterdown's Stony Plain Records) Wins 2 Blues Music Awards

Ottawa Blueswoman Sue Foley, an artist currently signed to Waterdown music label Stony Plain Records took home two statuettes at the 2022 Blues Music Award in Memphis on May 5, 2022 


Below is a complete list of winners.

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Thursday, May 5, 2022

Happy International Tuba Day! Jay Burr, Dave Bargeron of Blood Sweat & Tears, Rebirth Brass Band

Updated from a 2018 Post

Links: More Jay Burr Stories, FOG Brass Band, Video above courtesy of Rebecca Hennesy

Links: Tom Waits Appreciation Congregation, More Tom Waits Covers/StoriesVideo above courtesy of Splashwave Productions

Links: Rebirth Brass Band, Video above courtesy of RebirthBB

Links: Blood Sweat and Tears, Video above courtesy of  charsbass1

Previous (Accordion Day Videos) - - - Next (Blues Music Award Winners)

Happy World Accordion Day! (Denis Keldie, Ed Roth, Jordan Abraham, Hamilton Accordion Club)

Updated from a 2017 post

Links: Denis Keldie, More Denis Keldie  Stories, Russell deCarle, More Prairie Oyster (Rusell's Band) StoriesVideo above courtesy of Gilmour Street Music Hall

Links: Ed Roth (on Accordion), More Ed Roth Stories, Rick ZolkowerVideo above courtesy of libertytranechannel

Links: Jordan Abraham (on accordion), More Jordan Abraham Stories, Johannes Linstead, More Johannes Linstead StoriesVideo above courtesy of Johannes Linstead

Links: Hamilton Accordion ClubVideo above courtesy of Dale G. Henderson

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Happy National Cartoonists' Day

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis

Local Cartoonists:
Please email us at blueshamilton@gmail.com if you know of any other cartoonists that should be on our list.

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