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BLUE MIDNIGHT IV: The Spirit of Little Walter
Raoul and The Big Time
featuring special guests
Chicago blues legend Billy Boy Arnold
Juno winner Monkeyjunk’s Steve Marriner
Toronto-based musician (and actor) Raoul Bhaneja is one of thousands of harmonica players who owe Walter Marion Jacobs —far better known as Little Walter — a huge debt, and he continues to pay it back by organizing his fourth annual tribute to his hero.
Blue Midnight IV, set for Hugh’s Room in Toronto on Friday October 5, will feature 78-year-old Billy Boy Arnold, one of the original masters of the Chicago blues sound, and a relative youngster, Ottawa’s Steve Marriner, the harp-playing member of the Juno-winning group MonkeyJunk. Arnold and Marriner will be accompanied by Bhaneja’s band, The Big Time.
Says Bhaneja: “Little Walter is comparable in his field — in his skill and influence — to John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix,” he says. “This is going to be a hard-driving show which will cover Walter’s material, and features the arrangements from the original recordings. With the presence of a master like Billy Boy we have the chance to pay homage to his body of work. Hopefully, we can also re-create the feeling as well as the sound of that classic music.”
LITTLE WALTER was one of the major figures in blues history — a ground-breaking harmonica player who had huge hits (“Juke,” “My Babe,” “Blues With a Feeling”). He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, and greatly influenced the future direction of the blues idiom. A veteran of many of Muddy Waters’ best-selling recordings, he died in 1968. His own legacy of ground-breaking records on the Chess and Checker labels has inspired harmonica players around the world ever since.
BILLY BOY ARNOLD’s long career began as the harmonica player on hit Bo Diddley recordings such as the 1955 smash hit “I’m A Man.” His Hugh’s Room performance marks only his second appearance in Toronto.
Now 78, he signed with the legendary VeeJay label and recorded several hits including “I Wish You Would” and “I Ain’t Got You,” which have been covered by hundreds of artists since including, most famously, The Yardbirds.
Still recording today, his most recent release is a tribute to another blues pioneer, Big Bill Broonzy. Released by Toronto’s own ElectroFi Records (marking the label’s 15th anniversary) the recording has earned raves from around the globe, including kudos from Eric Clapton and Pete Townsend.
STEVE MARRINER is not yet 30, but he is considered by many to be one of Canada’s finest harmonica players. As a teenager he wowed audiences with his prowess on the harmonica as a member of the JW Jones Band and on international tours with Harry Manx. Now the lead singer and multi-instrumentalist of Juno winners MonkeyJunk, his nonstop touring schedule rarely allows for solo appearances and this will be a rare one for Toronto.
RAOUL BHANEJA — as well known as an actor as he is a musician — has fronted The Big Time for more than a decade. The band won Maple Blues Awards as best new artists in 1999 and earned recognition from NOW Magazine as “Best Blues Artist” in 2007.