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The Gary Kendall Band Bio

 

Everyone knows Gary Kendall as oft-elected Maple Blues’ Bassist of the Year, blues man about town and keeper of the bottom end for Downchild. But Gary’s alter ego is found in his much beloved Gary Kendall Band – a band in which each carefully selected player is equal and accountable. Formed in 2005, Gary reached out to some of Toronto’s best musicians to create a turn-on-a-dime squad of blues marauders to build a loyal following for their own brand of music –and for doing exactly what they like to on any given night – play the blues.       

The chemistry found between Gary Kendall (bass/lead vocals/songwriter), Tyler Burgess (drums/vocals/harmonica), Darran Poole (guitar/vocals) and Wayne “Shakey” Dagenais (piano/organ/percussion/vocals) is beyond formidable. This spirited foursome plays together relentlessly and have so much fun at it, one’s never entirely sure what to expect – and that live spontaneity is exactly what the blues has been needing for a long time.

With a two CD catalogue (Dusty & Pearl, Feels Real Strong) and downloadable singles (“This Sacred Ground & Sumlin Around”) to draw from, Kendall & Co. mix it up and dish it out with every performance, playing to blues-savvy crowds drawn to a groove they already know never quits. The current GKB show also features a tribute to The Kendall Wall Band by performing a few selections from the “That Way We Was” recording.

Think about it – with this talent pool– the possibilities are endless, and all of them good.
 
The quality of the music on any given night with the Gary Kendall Band is a given. It’s a fresh, impassioned outlet for four talented musicians clearly inspired by their collective love of the music business. This is a true band who conspire to write their own music, arrange, play and sing it they way they like it – and it’s a guaranteed “Real Good Night” in any live setting. Experience counts for something. The Gary Kendall Band counts for more than that.

written by:  Eric Thom

 


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Gary Kendall's Musical History

It all started in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the northern end of Highway 61. Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan show in 1956 and Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Sunnyland Slim on the CBC documentary “The Blues” in 1962.  Scanning the dial of an old radio, late at night in a basement bedroom, looking for exotic music from the south.  This is how Gary Kendall's journey into the world of the Blues began.  When other teenage boys his age went to weekend dances to meet girls, he stood off to the side watching the musicians on the bandstand.  At age sixteen, six months after acquiring his first pawn shop electric guitar; he jumped at the chance to join a band called The Countdowns and play bass.  None of the other young musicians wanted the bass players job, Gary just wanted to be in a band.  After making $20 at a Saturday night dance playing rock n roll, his future occupation was secured. 

When the mid-sixties brought the British Invasion, it was The Rolling Stones that caught his ear and their music encouraged him to dig a little deeper and buy records by artists who were considered to be the first generation of the Blues.  He joined a band called The Shameful Minority with long time friend, guitarist David Smyth. The record collection now included Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, Willie Dixon, B.B. King, Little Walter, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and many more.

In 1968, Gary Kendall moved to Toronto, the city he now calls home.  By 1971, with The James Hartley Band, he was playing the legendary Grossman's Tavern and other blues bars in the Spadina & College neighborhood where he lived.  The Downchild Blues Band was at the top of the local scene and he quickly became friends with all the band members, brought together by a mutual respect for the music. 

In 1974, playing in a basement bar, The Meet Market, beneath the legendary Colonial Tavern with his own band, Dollars, a friendship was struck with Muddy Waters guitarist, Bob Margolin.  A friendship that continues to this day. Bob arranged for him to sit in with Muddy and the band.  The privilege to play with one of his heroes is a strong and important memory that has stayed with him throughout his entire career. .  A few months later the basement bar brought in Sunnyland Slim, an artist first seen on television with Muddy Waters back in 1962.  He was thrilled when his band was asked to back up Sunnyland and Bonnie Bombshell for a week.

In late 1979 the opportunity to join The Downchild Blues Band became a reality.  The chance to play with old friends in one of his favorite bands seemed like a dream come true.  He stayed until 1983, recording four albums, “We Deliver”, “Road Fever”, "Blood Run Hot” and “But, I’m On The Guest List”

 

From the mid-80`s to the early 90`s, Gary stayed off the road, holding down a house gig at Toronto’s, Black Swan Tavern with The Kendall Wall Band.  A group he formed with ex-Downchild drummer Cash Wall, harmonica ace Jeff Baker,guitarist Richard Smyth and later on Teddy Leonard, who became part of the multi-talented, award-winning band Fathead.  Their Saturday Afternoon Blues Matinee’s at the Swan became legendary.
 
In those days most touring acts came to Toronto for a week to play at Albert’s Hall and most of the artists came over to the Swan to do a guest spot on Saturday afternoon.  That gave KWB the opportunity to play with A. C. Reed, Pinetop Perkins, Eddy Clearwater, Tinsley Ellis, Little Willie Littlefield, Chubby Carrier, Bernard Allison, Eddie C. Campbell, Lefty Dizz, Eddie "Clean Head" Vinson, Eddie Shaw, Carey Bell, Fenton Robinson and many more.  This also led to KWB being used by venues like Albert’s Hall and The Bermuda Onion as a back up band for Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Snooky Pryor, Big Jay McNealey, Honkin' Joe Houston, Phil Guy and Cash McCall.

In 1995, Gary Kendall returned to his position as bassist with Canadian music institution, The Downchild Blues Band.  Since then, they've released “Lucky 13”, “Come On In”, “Live at The Palais Royale”, “I Need A Hat” and the Juno Award winning “Can You Hear The Music”

When not on the road with Downchild, he fills his insatiable need to play the blues by working under his own name as The Gary Kendall Band featuring Darran Poole on guitar, Shakey Dagenais on piano/organ and Tyler Burgess on drums.  GKB has released two recordings, Dusty & Pearl and Feels Real Strong along with digital singles, This Sacred Ground and Sumlin Around on his 47 Records label.

Gary Kendall received The Toronto Blues Society's “Blues With A Feeling Award” in 1993 and has numerous nominations for The Maple Blues Award's “Bassist Of The Year”.  He won the MBA “Bassist Of The Year” in 1997, 1999, 2000. 2002 ,2005, 2007, 2012 and 2013.  In 2002 his hometown of Thunder Bay honored him with the “Thunder Blues Award” and The Thunder Bay Blues Society's “Keeping The Blues Alive Award”.

 

In recent years Gary has worked on recordings by Chris Murphy (Blowin' The Horn and I’m A Happy Guy), Little Bobby & The Jumpstarts (Tickets In The Glove Box), Maria Aurigema (Take Me), Peter Schmidt & Shane Scott (Blues Approved), Brian Blain (Overqualified For The Blues) Ray Edge (Soul Connection) The Maple Blues Revue (Live At Twisted Pines), Son Roberts (Tell That Story), David Vest (East Meets Vest & Roadhouse Revelation)and Tobin Spring (Collective Blues Aggreement)

In 2012, Gary Kendall dug back into  the old and almost lost recordings of The Kendall Wall Band and released The Way We Was.  A documentary on the recording process and the history of the band is currently in the works.
Since 1999 he has held down the prestigious position as Musical Director/Band Leader at the annual Maple Blues Awards ceremony in Toronto.  A popular sideman, he continues to work with Robin Banks, Son Roberts, The Swingin Blackjacks, The Mighty Duck Blues Band, Harpdog Brown, Lazer Lloyd, Powder Blues, Bob Margolin and numerous freelance opportunities.

Whenever and wherever you find him, G.K. will be “layin’ down a solid groove and playin’ the blues”. 


Official "Dusty & Pearl" Press Release

"47 RECORDS PROUDLY ANNOUNCES"
DUSTY & PEARL
A solo recording by Downchild bassist & multiple Maple Blues Award winner!
GARY KENDALL

Recording a solo CD is something I've wanted to do for quite awhile, it's been in my head for a long time.  Early this year with the help and encouragement of Iridescent Music I was able to go into the studio and begin recording in mid-May.  I had nine of my own tunes, a few obscure blues covers and lots of ideas.  I've always had a good phone book and lots of friends in the biz so as the recording began to take it`s own life, the calls started going out.   By the time it wrapped in mid-August , thirty-three of  this country's  "Blues Elite" had joined me and made contributions.  Donnie Walsh and all the members of Downchild play on various tracks  Fathead`s, Al Lerman, Teddy Leonard and John Mays, along with horn players Chris Murphy, Larry Bodner, Chris Whiteley, Howie Moore, Steve Donald, Rich Howse are featured.  Singers, Suzie Vinnick, Judy Brown, John Dickie and Johnny Wright are heard through out.   Richard Bell  brought in his accordion and  keyboardists  Rod Philips and Martin Aucoin  added some organ.   My  good friend  and  bass confidant Terry  Wilkins  did a great job on acoustic bass on one track and Little Bobby and Pete Schmidt played some great harmonica and blues guitar.  The drummer's chair was occupied by my favourites, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jim Casson, Tyler Burgess and Tom Bona. Steve Grisbrook sat behind the board as engineer and did double duty adding some guitar and back up vocals. When not touring with Downchild I plan to promote "Dusty & Pearl" by performing with The Gary Kendall Band which features Darran Poole on guitar, Tyler Burgess on drums and Shakey Dagenais on piano.
 

"All the musician's do their bit for a bass man who steps out with a fine CD"  Maple Blues




Discography 

Maria Aurigema, Long Way Home, Independent 2014
David Vest, Roadhouse Revelation, Cordova Bay Records 2014
Tobin Spring,
Collective Blues Agreement, Independent, 2014
The Downchild Blues Band- Can You Hear The Music, 2013, Linus
The Kendall Wall Band -The Way We Was, 2013,47 Records
David Vest - East Meets Vest, Ark-O-Matic 2012
Son Roberts - Tell That Story Gate Productions 2011
The Downchild Blues Band - I Need A Hat Linus/True North 2009
The Gary Kendall Band - Feels Real Strong 47 Records 2008
The Maple Blues Revue - Live at Twisted Pines Preservation Records 2008
The Downchild Blues Band - Live at the Palais Royale
  Linus 2007
Gary Kendall - Dusty & Pearl 47 Records 2005
Ray Edge - Soul Connection Solar Records 2005
Brian Blain - Overqualified For The Blues Northern Blues 2005 
The Toronto Blues Society - 20 Years 2005 
The Downchild Blues Band - Come On In  Downchild Music/Blue Wave  2004
Maria Aurigema - Take Me 2004
Chris Murphy - I'm A Happy Guy Speakeasy Records  2003
The Downchild Blues Band - Body Of Work - compilation Blue Wave 2003
Pete Schmidt & Shane Scott - Blues Approved 2003
Live At Healey's 2002
Little Bobby & The Jumpstarts - Tickets In The Glove Box Green Bullet  2001
The Downchild Blues Band - A Matter Of Time - compilation Blue Wave  2000
Chris Murphy - Blowin' The Horn Speakeasy Records 1999 
The Downchild Blues Band - A Case Of The Blues - compilation Attic Records 1998
The Downchild Blues Band - Lucky Thirteen  Downchild Music/Blue Wave 1997
The Downchild Blues Band - But, I'm On The Guest List Attic Records 1982 (reissued 2003)
The Downchild Blues Band - Blood Run Hot Attic Records 1981 (reissued 2003)
The Downchild Blues Band - Road Fever Attic Records 1980 (reissued 2003)
The Downchild Blues Band - We Deliver Attic Records 1980 (reissued 2003)
 
“Collectible & Hard To Find”
(Vinyl & Cassette)
Grossman's Live 1987 LP 
Ray Edge - Don't Worry About Tomorrow/Point It Out 1983 45rpm
Morgan Davis & The Catfish - Satisfaction Guaranteed/Bar-B-Que Bullhead Records  1979 45rpm
Dollars - Look Into Your Own Eyes: Sudbury Shinerama 1975 45rpm
Matt Lucas - I've Paid My Dues Kanata  1971 LP
 
Production Credits
 
The Kendall Wall Band, The Way We Was, 47 Records, 2013
David Vest, Roadhouse Revelation, Cordova Bay Records, 2014
Dusty & Pearl-Gary Kendall
Feels Real Strong-The Gary Kendall Band
Four On The Floor-David Owen
Blowin The Horn-Chris Murphy
East Meets Vest-David Vest
Soul Connection-Ray Edge