This year’s GLBS Road to Memphis winner in the band category, The Focklers (http://thefocklers.com/) have been invited to their first Firehall Reunion, and the band is stoked and eager to make their mark. Two brothers, a cousin and a friend make up this dynamic, unconventional quartet and whether it’s DNA, Karma or just the audacity of youth, these guys can kick it.
When you see these fine artists at the Firehall Reunion, they will be walking just a little taller, having just competed at the International Blues Competition in Memphis. These gents should be full of pride as they made it to the semi-finals. They represented the Blues Society well, and we are very proud of their accomplishment. Well done!
The Firehall Reunion is a celebration of the talent, venues and the innkeepers, publicans, managers and promoters who together have created a Blues spawning ground in London. Don’t miss this year’s celebration of the new and the more seasoned, and the stalwarts that contribute to and make the Firehall Reunion THE Blues gathering of the year.
Blues lovers in London know and respect Tim Woodcock (https://youtu.be/Dlo1_f1DHjw) and Cheryl Lescom(https://www.cheryllescom.com/) for their talent and longevity and the joy and love they convey each time they are on stage doing what they do best, singing and playing the Blues. Cheryl is the Queen of the Firehall, and Tim is London’s Statesman of the Blues and individually and together they have been singing and playing, sharing the Blues for well over 30 years. In 2016, Tim was recognized with the Jack Richardson Award for Best Bluesman and in 2015, Cheryl was nominated for a Maple Blues Award - Best Female Singer and she released her latest CD - 1953 with the Tucson Choir Boys AND she re-released her highly successful 2007 CD - High Heel Blues.
Brian Mortimer has booked the PAUL DESLAURIERS BAND (https://www.pauldeslauriers.ca/) for the 27th Firehall Reunion before they were nominated for Maple Blues Awards and swept the evening winning FOUR MBA’s including Entertainer of the Year, Electric Act of the Year, Drummer of the Year (Sam Harrisson) and Bassist of the Year (Greg Morency). Last February they came in second at the IBC’s in Memphis an absolute magical accomplishment If you don’t have your tickets, ask yourself, ‘What am I waiting for’? Congratulations to the Paul Deslauriers Band.
PAUL LANGILLE (https://youtu.be/Rkqf0Rs14aI), 2008 Jack Richardson Award winner Best Contemporary Singer/songwriter, and 2016 co-winner single/duo GLBS Road to Memphis competition, hails from Hamilton, has three stellar CD’s to his credit, the latest being Pine and Locke. In 2008, Paul won the Jack Richardson Award for best contemporary singer/songwriter. Paul was a fixture at the Firehall during its hay day, and in the fall of 2016, participated in the Great Lakes Blues Society sponsored Road to Memphis competition where he and his partner Tom Lockwood, won the single/duo competition and will be representing the Blues Society in Memphis at the end of January. Paul has a deep baritone voice likened to David Clayton Thomas or Bob Segar. He is a masterful guitar player, his wrist literally a blur. Paul’s voice, guitar and professional rapport with his audience is special.
CHUCKEE ZEHR, (https://youtu.be/HuokMOfNEH8) 2 time winner of the GLBS – Road to Memphis Competition in the Single/Duo category. She made it to the Semi’s at the 2014 IBC’s in Memphis as a single and competed at the IBC’s again in 2015 with her friend Gail Selkirk in the Duo category. Chuckee is the lead singer and keyboardist with Chuckee and the Crawdaddies, as well as performing solo and as an accompanist at many of the major festivals all over during the past several years. She is a classically-trained pianist, with a wonderful, passionate and compelling voice.
THE HOGTOWN ALLSTARS (http://www.garykendall.com/Bluestime/THAS.htm) The Super Group comprised of 5 members of Downchild and one from Fathead: Chuck Jackson (vocals & harp), Gary Kendall (bass), Mike Fitzpatrick (drums), Michael Fonfara (Piano/Organ), Teddy Leonard (guitar), and Pat Carey (sax). These gents will be playing as a band, as well as backing up various artists.
Chuck Jackson is first and foremost an incredible entertainer. Whether with Downchild or the Hogtown All Stars or as a guest with many other bands, when Jackson takes the stage... he owns it! He is a Maple Blues Award winner - Male Vocalist of the Year and a Toronto Blues Society ‘Blues with a Feeling’ award recipient for his achievements during a long and distinguished career.
Gary Kendall is an elite Canadian bassist who has won the Maple Blues Award for best Bass player so many times they are thinking of renaming the trophy. Whether playing with Downchild, The Hogtown Allstars or The Gary Kendall Band, Gary is happiest playing, recording and livin’ the dream!
Mike Fitzpatrick has also won an MBA, for drummer of the year. He’s played with Big Joe Turner, Sonny Rhodes, Jack deKeyzer, and Morgan Davis and David Vest before and since Downchild.
Michael Fonfara has been touted as one of the busiest keyboard players in North America. He began his career in the 60s, playing with Mike Bloomfield in Electric Flag and he was also in the super group, Rhinoceros. He’s played with Lou Reed, Solomon Burke and has been a member of Downchild since 1992. He’s been nominated 9 times for the Maple Blues Award for Keyboard Player of The Year and won 4 times.
Teddy Leonard has won a Maple Blues Award for Guitarist of The Year. He is a long-time member of the Juno and Maple Blues Award winning band Fathead. He’s also a member of the Village Blues Band and has recorded with David Vest. Teddy is known for his own original blues sound, and in 2010 he was presented with London’s “Jimmy Lewis Award”, in recognition of his long career as a blues musician.
Sax player Pat Carey has a music degree from the University of Manitoba and joined Downchild in 1985. He has composed horn arrangements for Jack deKeyzer, Chuck Jackson and the All-Stars, Big Daddy G and Sunny Fournier, as well as recorded with Rita Chiarelli, Fathead, Danny Brooks, Kenny Blues Boss Wayne to name just a few. Pat has won 5 MBAs for Horn Player of the Year.
There will be a two-stage format this year. The Big Stage in the London Music Hall, and the smaller stage in Rumrunners, which will be known as the Great Lakes Blues Society stage. This stage will be run by Dave Harland and Paul Breau, both Board members of the GLBS. Folks really like this room as it is more like the original Firehall with brick walls and great sound.
Many of you are Firehall reunion veterans, and already know the importance of having a VIP table. This year there will be a total of 36 tables for sale and take NOTE 3/4 of them are spoken for, so don’t waste any time if you are interested. The tables hold 10 blues fans and can be reserved and are still only $400. Chris Mortimer is looking after this opportunity - he can be reached at 519-870-0956 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please don’t hesitate to contact him TODAY and avoid disappointment. The VIP tables always sell out and they are great as you and your friends have a home base to come back to which make your trips to the other stage hassle free.