top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Toronto Singer/Songwriter Steve Paul Simms Has Some 'Blues for Back Alley John' in New Single

By Eric Alper.

Toronto singer/songwriter Steve Paul Simms has some “Blues for Back Alley John” in this, his latest single — available now!

The song serves as a celebration for one of Ottawa — and later, Calgary’s — finest bluesmen, the late, great Back Alley John Wilson, Simms shares. “I conjured up a little of Back Alley John’s harmonica magic and philosophical musings for this one,” he explains. “There’s also some vintage Byward Market scenery for good measure.”

The song sits atop the swirling keyboards and biting guitar stylings of Ed Michael Roth and Bob Cohen, respectively, and is the latest to land off of Steve Paul Simms’ fourth album, Ingrid and the Messenger Boy.

Released December 2020, the 12-track LP offers a fine introduction to the Toronto-based troubadour whose signature brand of storytelling has long evoked notions of cabarets to cityscapes, dreams to memories, alike.

A classically trained actor who’s performed in well over 60+ theatrical productions nationwide, this is Simms’ first album available via digital streaming. In all, Ingrid and the Messenger Boy is the culmination of Simms’ genre-spanning talents; while “Blues for Back Alley John” may be blues in focus, the veteran of the creative arts scene includes pop, jazz, ragtime, rock, soul, country, world, and Broadway tunes among his expansive repertoire.

In addition to Back Alley John Wilson, Ingrid and the Messenger Boy pays tribute to the likes of a screen legend in “Anything with Ingrid,” a classic 1960s songwriter in “Goodbye Ellie,” and more.“ A one-man doo-wop group laments the life of a legal ‘Messenger Boy, and ‘Te Quiero’ celebrates young love without borders,” Simms shares. “‘Karma Makes a Comeback’ is a song about consequences, and ‘Rolling’ captures the lure of the open road.

“‘No Money Comin’ In’ chronicles one of life’s most familiar struggles,” he concludes, “and ‘Anytime’ is a declaration of love and friendship.”

Blues for Back Alley John” and Ingrid and the Messenger Boy are available now.

Back Alley John was a Canadian blues singer, songwriter and harmonica player. At the age of 14 he ran away to Venice Beach California and for 2 years made a living as a busking harmonica player. It was in Venice Beach that he acquired the name "Back Alley John" because busking was illegal, he had to play his harmonicas in the back alleys.


bottom of page