By Sarah French.
Ontario's The Smoke Wagon Blues Band are back after their multi-award-winning Ballad of Albert Johnson LP with two brand new side singles. A swampy blues rocker depicting the haunting legend of Louisiana voodoo priestess “Julia Brown”, and their live heartfelt acoustic tribute to the Canadian Blues DJ icon Patrick Monaghan with “Onward Through the Fog”.
The Smoke Wagon Blues Band are some of the finest original Canadian blues troubadours on the circuit today, performing on festival stages for over two decades. Eight Independent releases, international radio play, and a large Canadian blues following propelled the band to venues across the continent.
The groups last three albums were award winning international hits reaching the top of the roots & blues charts earning the band: four independent blues awards in the USA; two Maple Blues awards in Canada and 5-star reviews in blues magazines around the globe.
The new singles are available here, and on all popular streaming services including Tidal, Spotify, Apple music, deezer.com, and Amazon.
Featuring whisky-stained soul vocals, funky blues harmonica, slick R&B/roots guitar, swinging piano work, soulful organ, riveting saxophone, with a racy, taut rhythm section, The Smoke Wagon Blues Band, in one form or another, has been performing on festival stages for over two decades. Formed in 1996, the band first became crowd favourites in Hamilton, Ontario’s famous Hess Village.
Seven independent album releases, international radio play, and a large local fan base propelled the band to venues across the continent. "The Ballad of Albert Johnson" & the groups previous three albums were international hits reaching the top of the Roots Music Report Blues charts and garnering 5-star reviews in blues magazines and blogs.
Smoke Wagon's latest release "The Ballad of Albert Johnson" won two 2021 Maple Blues Awards:
New Artist or Group of the Year
Recording/Producer of the Year
"The Ballad of Albert Johnson" has also been nominated for six 2021 Independent Blues Awards
Best Blues Rock Band
Best Modern Roots Band
Best Contemporary Blues Band
Best Modern Roots CD
Best Modern Roots Song "A Song for Cheryl"
Best Music Video "The Ballad of Albert Johnson"
The band’s previous release, “Cigar Store”, won 3 Awards at the Independent Blues Awards: Best New Blues, Best R&B Song, and Best Modern Roots Album.
“Cigar Store” spent over 47 weeks on the Top 50 Roots Music Reports Blues Charts reaching #2 in Canada, #6 in USA, and #16 in Australia. Red-hot live performances have become the talk of the town at venues across the county and beyond – including a three-night stand at Club 152 during the 2016 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.
Perhaps Corey Lueck says it best, with his account of the growth and history of The Smoke Wagon Blues Band, "Though Mike Stubbs and I didn’t know each other back then, both of us grew up as teenagers sneaking out to see King Biscuit Boy in Hess Village. When we were starting out, the Hamilton blues scene was something magical; starting at one end of the street and catching sizzling sets by the likes of Harrison Kennedy, Biscuit Boy, Sonny Del Rio or Trick bag and ending the evening with some smoking down-and-dirty-blues by Tim Gibbons and the Little Red Rooster band.
Once polished enough to be accepted into the village scene, playing such clubs as 33 Hess and The Mermaid, we slowly started to carve a niche with our own brand of blues. The pay was never very good, but what a way to develop our sound! Packed clubs and streets on hot summer nights, people dancing from bar to bar, musicians running from venue to venue to catch a few tunes between sets (or to borrow a guitar string). What made that time so special was that people really came out for the music. The music was just as important to the audience as it was to the musicians. Music speaks the truth, and that’s what the blues are all about...while also leaving a little room to boogie!"
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