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  • The Sound Cafe

A Conversation With Multi-Award Winning Blues Guitarist Teddy Leonard


Photo Credit: Mark Gommer



Teddy Leonard is one of Canada’s music gems. He’s a guitarist, singer, and producer that is in demand by the blues community. He was one of the founding members of Fathead and has played with Canada’s cream of blues artists. He’s a multi award-winning artist who has his own style and form of blues music.


Ken Wallis interviewed Teddy Leonard for the radio show Blues Source Canada. Below are excerpts from that interview.




Ken Wallis

Live music is starting to make a comeback…thank goodness…and recently a couple of great festivals were held… The South Side Shuffle in Port Credit and the Lighthouse Blues Festival in Kincardine…and one of the bands that appeared in Kincardine was The Erin McCallum Band and we're joined by the guitarist of The Erin McCallum Band, Teddy Leonard… Teddy thanks so much for coming on the show.


Teddy Leonard

Oh, I'm glad to be here Ken thank you.


Ken Wallis

So, you've just recently joined forces with Erin McCallum. What's it like playing with a powerhouse singer?


Teddy Leonard

It's easy…she does all the work and I just do all the smiling


Ken Wallis

Well, it must have felt pretty good to get back on stage with a live audience.


Teddy Leonard

Yes it was a great gig…it was a great day. As it always is in Kincardine, it was very windy, and we had to cut our sets short unfortunately as the wind kept grabbing the tent over the stage and trying to make it a parachute. I've been canceled for a lot of different things…people being sick…unfortunately 911… all sorts of things… even a bomb threat once…but never for wind.


Ken Wallis

That's a that's a new one for sure. The band is working on some new material. What's it like working with Erin? She's doing the lyrics I understand and you are going to be co-producing with her.


Teddy Leonard

Well, that's a great privilege and a great honour. Erin loves writing…she is a writer by nature and she writes articles for the Blues Society and she writes lyrics and she's really good with words. Often, I just throw out an idea to her on a text or on Messenger and she writes a song from it.


Ken Wallis

And how are you two meshing? Are you finding it rather easy to sort of step in and play with her or is it going to take in a little bit of an adjustment?


Teddy Leonard

Oh no it's easy to play with Erin. Erin's playing bass now in the band as well as singing but I can also stand on the shoulders of the people who did the records with her before…learning their parts and learning their feels. And then we're going to move on with a record of our own and I'm really looking forward to that. I've got some great ideas for Erin. We're going to have a bit more acoustic music involved…percussion and acoustic guitar and as well as electric…it's going to be kind of a mixed bag.


Ken Wallis

We’re all looking forward to hearing that…it's going to be great. You’ve got a lot of irons in the fire…you’re also playing with The Hogtown All Stars. Tell us who's in the band.


Teddy Leonard

Well I’d be a liar if I didn't say it looked a lot like Downchild…Gary Kendall on bass and Downchild’s new drummer, Jim Casson on drums.. Pat Carey on saxophone…Chuck Jackson of course the singer and leader…Tyler Yarema playing keys…he's now filling the void when Michael Fonfara passed away…and Howard Moore plays trumpet


Ken Wallis

How did you guys go about selecting the tunes that you're going to record


Teddy Leonard

We did it on Zoom. We had a lot of tunes and had we to chop it down from about 30 songs to enough for a cd.


Ken Wallis

When will that album be available?


Teddy Leonard

You know Gary ...he’s a great business manager as well as being a great bass player and a great friend. He gets stuff done. I think the recording will probably be finished in the next two or three weeks and then it will be mixed and mastered. I don't know if he's got a date in his head but it could easily be before Christmas.


Ken Wallis

And you're also an active member of The Maple Blues Band and you guys are going to go and do some recording as well.


Teddy Leonard

We just did a a gig in Calgary which was maybe our coming out party after covid and it went really well. People in Calgary were great. It was really a well-run festival and we mostly did instrumentals. We had a couple of singers Suzie Vinnick…was she was great as always. That music is available on the album called Instrumentalz. I always love playing with that band…I played in that band for I think 17 years. It's a wonderful gig and we all know each other really well and we've had great people in that band come and go… on drums Chris Murphy…on baritone sax Chris Whiteley and of course Michael Fonfara was in the band too but he's left us and he leaves a big hole to fill… Lance Anderson's doing the best that's for sure


Ken Wallis

And Gary Kendall has also re-eleased Dusty And Pearl Revisited Volume One and you're playing on that one as well.


Teddy Leonard

I can't tell you how many years ago that was but phones weren’t invented and it's probably 15 years ago…but we had a lot of fun making it and I'm really glad that Gary did it. Gary's made two cds under his own name plus the Instrumentalz CD and of course he's made many other cds too and I'm really glad that he put out his own records and I think he is too .


Ken Wallis

You've been on the scene for close to 40 years from what I understand. How do you keep inspired?


Teddy Leonard

I get to meet new players all the time. The other singer that we played with in in Calgary was Steve Marriner. I’ve only known Steve probably for 10 years but it's just fantastic to get to know other people that play the same kind of music and have the same kind of sensibilities…it's really great.


Ken Wallis

And when Steve Mariner pulls out his harmonica that always gets me going.


Teddy Leonard

Man you should see him play guitar. He's an awfully good guitar player and of course as a singer he is a spectacular. I understand he also plays organ….he likes to play B3.


Ken Wallis

So, one last question…where do you think the blues music is headed in the future?


Teddy Leonard

It's something I think about a lot because you can't play BB King any better than BB King did and you can't play Freddie King or you can't sing Muddy Waters any better than Muddy so you've got those benchmarks and we've all made our living from playing music inspired by them. But the music has to evolve and I hear great things from different people. The person that I look to the most is Robert Cray. He can sing like nobody else and his playing is flawless and he writes great material…it's always a joy to listen to him and I always think wow could I ever play a solo as good as that? I know I’d never sing like that but could I ever play a guitar solo like that. his records are really inspirational and he comes from R&B and blues and he puts them together and it's so good.


Ken Wallis

I was chatting with Erin McCallum last week and she just raves about your guitar playing. She said that she lights up on stage when you start going at it.


Teddy Leonard

The greatest thing about playing with Erin is just what a nice person she is and on top of that she has tremendous passion for the music…she really is passionate…she'll talk about music till the cows come home and that's great that's what you need…that's what you need for inspiration.


Ken Wallis

Teddy thank you so much for coming on the show and I thank you so much for your time


Teddy Leonard

it's always a pleasure… thank you Ken.


Ken Wallis

And I’m looking forward to seeing you guys live one of these days.