Gary Kendall Band This Sacred Ground
John Valenteyn, Maple Blues Magazine, March 2010
Blues songs usually don’t stray very far from the field of interpersonal relationships but the subject of casualties returning from Afghanistan on the Highway of Heroes has obviously affected this band very deeply. Gary Kendall & Martin Alex Aucoin have written a masterpiece that should be heard by everyone. The band gives the performance of its life and Kendall delivers the lyric with a combination of sadness, anger and passion that is well nigh perfect. If anyone else has used the image of so many Canadians crowded onto all the bridges overlooking the 401 from Trenton, I’m not aware of it and I can’t imagine it more eloquently described. Shakey Dagenais on keyboards, percussion & vocals, Darran Poole on guitars & vocals and Tyler Burgess on drums form the rest of the Gary Kendall Band and you can download the song at www.cdbaby.com. Go to www.garykendall.com, find out where they’re playing and congratulate them on a tremendous achievement.
Feel Real Strong
Gary Kendall is Canada's go-to bass player. He's been named Maple Blues Awards bassist of the year six times and held down the rhythm section of the Downchild Blues Band for 14 years. He also helms his own band, and on Feels Real Strong, the members are joined by some of Canada's best session players for a satisfying set of all-original, mostly Kendall-penned tracks.
Never the most memorable vocalist, Kendall keeps within his range across these personal tunes. The swinging "That Thing" brings out a confident vocal, bolstered by backup singers on the chorus. Kendall's singing is left to the elements is the slowed-down treatment of "Terrified Blues", a straight blues song that's a welcomed addition to this 12-track collection.
Other songs include "Marlena", propelled skyward on a backdrop of solid B-3 and expert solos from Darran Poole's guitar, and the gentle homespun title track, swathed in B-3, piano, and a sophisticated Pat Carey horn arrangement. A stronger groove finds its way into the delightful Cajun-styled romp "Sugaree", featuring fiddle, accordion, and rubboard. But "Streeta Groove" is the album's most satisfying moment; Kendall's reverbed bass is relaxed as his band kicks into a solid, slinky boogie that sits atop Wayne "Shakey" Dagenais' B-3. Drummer Tyler Burgess assists on harp as Poole fractures the beat with inspired, Jimmie Vaughan-like shards of guitar. A tribute to the long-gone sights and sounds of Toronto's music scene as Kendall name-checks favourites, it's a nice note on which to end the album, and solid proof of the chemistry shared by the members of this road-weaned band.
Feel Real Strong
OBScene - Ottawa Blues Society - Summer 2009
Gary Kendall has been the bassist for the Downchild Blues Band for a number of years. In 2004 he released his first CD entitled "Dusty And Pearl" and has now followed up with "Feels Real Strong".
Guest musicians joining Gary and his band are Suzie Vinnick (no stranger to us in Ottawa), "Same Day" Ray Walsh and Pat Carey on tenor sax.
Gary wrote all but one of the tracks that consist of a mix of varied compositions like "Real Good Night", featuring the piano of Wayne "Shakey" Dagenais. Suzie Vinnick joins Gary on vocals on the title track "Feels Real Strong", which also features Pat Carey on tenor sax. "That Thing" is a rocking (Downchild - style) track that features Tyler Burgess on harp. Gary takes us down to Louisiana with a zydeco tune entitled "Sugaree" that showcases Ray Walsh on accordion and rubboard.
Gary cover many genres of blues on this CD and his band demonstrates their versatility as the travel from rock-blues to zydeco to swing to jazz. It is no wonder that The Gary Kendall Band is one of the most sought after bands in Southern Ontario.
THE GARY KENDALL BAND
FEELS REAL STRONG
"La Hora del Blues"
96.6 Barcelona FM
Un hombre que ante todo siente, vive y ama los blues como si de hijos suyos se tratasen. Bajista y cantante, Gary Kendall se ha propuesto en este segundo álbum en solitario, comandar una sabia mezcla de blues tradicional, slow grindin’ rock ‘n’ roll, e incluso algo de jump zydeco groove. Para ello ha contado con una excelente pléyade de buenos músicos, como el guitarrista Darren Poole, quien además toca el violín en un tema, los baterías Tyler Burgess y Mike Fitzpatrick, el teclista Wayne ‘Shakey’ Dagenais y una serie de invitados francamente exquisitos a los ‘metales’, acordeón y vocales. Los arreglos instrumentales son de alto nivel y las letras de las canciones nos sitúan frente a un Gary Kendall que demuestra poseer también un gran talento y sensibilidad en sus exposiciones líricas. Estamos pues ante un disco que aúna diferentes cualidades, todas ellas a cargo de uno de los músicos canadienses con más proyección y pedigree, sobre todo teniendo en cuenta que es uno de los pilares de los míticos Downchild Blues Band. MUY BUENO.
Gary Kendall is a man who feels, lives and loves the blues as if they were his own sons. Great singer and bass player, Gary’s aim for his second album recorded under his own name, is to lead a clever mixture of traditional blues with slow grindin’ rock ‘n’ roll and even some drops of jump zydeco groove. To do so, he has recruited a group of good musicians, such as guitar player Darren Poole, who plays fiddle too, drummers Tyler Burgess and Mike Fitzpatrick, keyboard player Wayne ‘Shakey’ Dagenais, together with a bunch of excellent guest musicians on horns, accordion and vocal support. Instrumental arrangements shine at a very high level that, together with song lyrics, place us in front of a musician who shows an amazing talent and sensitivity. The cd gathers different attractive qualities, performed by one of the most reputed well-known Canadian musician, especially if I tell you he is one of the leaders of the mythic Downchild Blues Band. GREAT
THE GARY KENDALL BAND
FEELS REAL STRONG
Chapters Indigo - Christine Bode
If you’re a blues fan and the name Gary Kendall sounds familiar to you, it’s because he’s “a veteran Canadian bassist, vocalist, songwriter, band leader and member of Downchild Blues Band”, not to mention a multiple Maple Blues Award winner. Kendall’s latest project is a marvelous collection of danceable, positively upbeat blues, zydeco and rockabilly-infused songs presented with exuberant enthusiasm on his second solo album, Feels Real Strong.
The Gary Kendall Band’s (www.garykendall.com) stellar line-up includes Wayne “Shakey” Dagenais, formerly of the Stan Street Band, on piano (whose Professor Longhair influenced keyboards really dazzle), organ and back-up vocals; Darran Poole – also a member of Fathead - on lead & rhythm guitar, fiddle and back-up vocals; Tyler Burgess (Stompin’ Tom Connors/The Downchild Blues Band) on drums, harmonica and back-up vocals; Downchild’s Mike Fitzpatrick on drums; and Gary adds lead vocals, electric bass and rhythm guitar. Recorded in Toronto with the help of six additional musicians including Jim Casson, Suzie Vinnick, “Same Day” Ray Walsh, Pat Carey, Howard Moore and Steve Donald, Feels Real Strong feels like it will probably earn Kendall another Maple Blues Award or two at the very least!
This musical assortment has 12 tracks of solid, boot-stomping boogie tunes almost entirely written by Kendall. It opens with “Real Good Night”, and while this track doesn’t possess a particularly distinctive vocal performance, it’s a mid-tempo, hip-swaying, warm-up, Texas-style blues rock song. “When You Tell Me” is the only song not written by Kendall (C. Wall), but it has a sassy, Robert Gordon-reminiscent, rockabilly dance sensibility with a brilliant keyboard solo from Dagenais. “That Thing” reminded me of The Stray Cats’ sound in the early 80’s with its rollicking piano & harmonica and prominent bass, and made me dance around my living room. Kendall cools things down a bit with the title track, “Feels Real Strong”, a lovey-dovey ballad perfect for waltzing with your honey. The infectious “Sugaree” (one of my favourites) transports you to the heart of Louisiana Cajun country with the help of “Same Day” Ray Walsh’s accordion & rubboard, while “Here To Stay” invokes memories of the soundtrack for the movie Tin Cup, and draws a comparison to Joe Ely.
Slide guitar and piano stand out memorably on the very likeable “Rainy Night in Hogtown” and “Terrified Blues” is an unadulterated, A-1 blues ballad. The rocking fine country blues shaker, “Deep In My Heart” offers more outstanding piano and the exceptional “Streeta Groove” ends the album with a powerfully, sexy blues growl that leaves you wanting more.
If Gary Kendall were a highly formidable vocalist, I’d have given this album an extra star but as it stands, it’s an extremely respectable and pleasurable trip. You’ll turn your living room into a way cool, rockin’ roadhouse when you put Feels Real Strong in your CD player or iPod! You can get your copy (and Kendall’s first solo album, Dusty & Pearl) through Gary c/o 47 Records, Silverbirch Productions, CD Baby and iTunes.
The Toronto based Gary Kendall Band is currently playing every week at a Sunday Blues matinee, along with special guests, at Hollywood on the Queensway in Toronto. Gary has a busy summer lined up playing with Downchild Blues Band, The Maple Blues Revue, Chuck Jackson’s Big Blues Revue, Jimmy Hall and The Swingin’ Blackjacks. As a member of the Kingston Blues Society, I would like to go on record as saying that The Gary Kendall Band would be an excellent choice for an upcoming act at one of our special shows. These are consummate professionals who shouldn’t be missed!
Feel Real Strong
By Tim Holek
Great Lakes Blues Society
The veteran Canadian bassist, vocalist, songwriter, producer, and band leader Gary Kendall has a winner on his hands with Feels Real Strong. Given his prodigious talent and constant contributions to the Canadian music scene, this should come as no surprise. Having been a member of the legendary Downchild Blues Band from ’79-’83, and currently since 1995, Kendall is widely-known. When not touring with Downchild, Kendall books the entertainment at Toronto’s famed Silver Dollar blues club and performs with The Gary Kendall Band among other alliances. He released his first solo CD, Dusty & Pearl on his own independent label, 47 Records, in 2004.
That CD had so many guests, it was difficult to hear Kendall’s originality and style in the music. The new CD is far more focused on Kendall and his current, potent road band. They are comprised of Toronto’s finest roots musicians including Wayne “Shakey” Dagenais (keyboards), Darran Poole (guitar), Tyler Burgess (drums and harmonica), and Mike Fitzpatrick (drums). Additionally, there are six guest musicians.
From the opening bars on Real Good Night, 12 all-original, radio-friendly songs come straight at you for 45 multifarious minutes. This lead-off song describes, from both a listener’s and performer’s perspective, the feelings experienced when things come together in a perfect performance. With a guitar that sounds influenced by Mark Knopfler, the danceable Marlena contains the kind of pop/rock that was commonplace on celestial radio 25 years ago. Deep In My Heart contains hand-clapping, foot-stomping boogie/rock, while rumba-style rock reverberates from When You Tell Me. With poignant horns and prevalent guitar, the title track is a ’60s-era-sounding soul ballad. Additional soul is found on Wall Of Love, which challenges you to be grateful for what you have. Perhaps it was written based on the fact that he has been there and done that. Or maybe he is just incredibly strong-willed. Whatever the case may be, Kendall “saw a lifeline and grabbed that rope” and resists the temptation of a debauchery-filled lifestyle on Here To Stay. Streeta Groove is a Texas shuffle that details the zany history of Toronto’s Spadina Street clubs and bands.
Additional American roots music can be heard on the zydeco-sounding Sugaree. It contains an infectious Louisiana rhythm that is widely appealing. Rainy Night In Hogtown features a traditional blues pattern and romping slide guitar that would make Muddy Waters or Bob Margolin blush. Terrified Blues is a slow since-you-left-me-baby blues. That Thing is a contemporary take on Willie Dixon’s The Same Thing. Here, the Downchild influence runs deep, while the song is reminiscent of Big Joe Turner style rock ‘n’ roll.
The most memorable things are the whirling rhythms and the exceptional musicianship – especially the Professor Longhair influenced keyboards, which steal the show. Most of all, the CD allows the listener inside the man who has been a pillar for so many others. If you are strictly expecting blues, you’ll be disappointed. If you prefer a more diverse menu, you be as satisfied as a diner in a New Orleans restaurant. This successful album is sure to end up on a few 2009 top ten lists.
Feel Real Strong
By David Barnard www.exclaim.ca
Bassist Gary Kendall is a fixture of Toronto's roots music community. The six-time Maple Blues Award winner for Bass Player of the Year has released a carefully crafted follow-up to Dusty & Pearl, his belated 2004 debut. A strong outing, Kendall wrote 11 originals, one with Downchild alumni Cash Wall, who also contributed the droll "When You Tell Me." A modest vocalist, Kendall's compositions are thoughtfully arranged, ensuring the standout element of each song is the tight knit playing of his band. Kendall's deep knowledge of the form ensures a varied play list, with traces of Louisiana swamp pop, Memphis fatback, Chicago shuffles and gospel chording heard throughout. The soloing by guitarist Darran Poole and keys player Shakey Dagenais is focused and tasteful, as on the title track. A tribute to playing bars for more than 40 years, Kendall pours the essence of his experience perfectly into "Real Good Night," a song blues bands will be playing 40 years from now.
The Gary Kendall Band – Feels Real Strong
John Valenteyn - Maple Blues Magazine December 2008
The last CD, Dusty & Pearl, was just by Gary Kendall and featured a large cast of players assisting Gary and those two basses. The band credit this time is entirely appropriate. Shakey Dagenais on keys, Darran Poole on guitars and Tyler Burgess or Mike Fitzpatrick on drums provide a chemistry that wasn’t there on the earlier CD, as good as that one was. The inventiveness of this unit also gives the CD an added dimension. The songs are in a wide variety of styles, from the title song a fine soul ballad to “Sugaree” a lovely Cajun dance tune to ‘50’s rock. A couple of the songs deserve special mention: “Rainy Night in Hogtown” laments the low ebb of blues interest here in town while “Streeta Groove” reminisces about happier times - the blues history of Spadina Avenue. Gary sings about the survivors, the Silver Dollar, Grossman’s, all the way back to the old Paramount Tavern, which has been a liquor store for quite a while now. Gary’s own blues history is acknowledged with a couple of songs from the Kendall-Wall Band. “Terrified Blues” was on a cassette from longer ago than I want to remember, sung then by co-writer Cash Wall. It’s good to have such a fine new performance of it. There are some guests here with “Same Day” Ray Walsh from Loco Zydeco helping out with accordion and rubboard on “Sugaree” and Pat Carey leading a horn section on a couple and providing the whole horn section on “Rainy Night In Hogtown” where Gary’s arrangement called for that deep baritone sax sound. The Gary Kendall Band plays regularly about town, including Sunday afternoons at Hollywood on The Queensway. You can get the CD from him there or at Rotate This on Queen St. W. His web site is www.garykendall.com. Another CD that he’s been intimately involved with will be featured in next month’s column.
The Gary Kendall Band – Feels Real Strong – 47 Records 47R002
Written by John Taylor canadianblues.ca
As a veritable fixture on Canada's musical landscape - and long-term bassist for Downchild, an institution that's seen its share of players come and go - Gary Kendall had a lot of friends to call on for his debut disc, 2004's Dusty And Pearl. Despite a huge cast, Kendall managed to marshal everything into a cohesive collection. Now he's back with a follow-up, this time opting to stick with his working band, and the results are even more satisfying.
Kendall's is one of the busiest outfits around Toronto and environs, and it shows in the tight ensemble sound here. This is not the stuff of sterile studio perfection - this is the organic sound of a working band, music with life, breathing hard and oozing sweaty urgency.
Kendall wrote all but one of the tunes here, and while he mines familiar forms, his songwriting is skilful and the band's playing inventive enough to keep everything surprisingly fresh. From the easy-going sway of "Real Good Night" that kicks things off, to the swampy, downright dangerous grind of "Streeta Groove" that closes that party, Kendall and company offer a consistently pleasing mix with plenty of bar-band variety.
Along the way there's rhumba-rhythm rock ‘n' roll ("When You Tell Me," the disc's lone cover courtesy of Kendall's old bandmate, Cash Wall), heartfelt balladry on "Feels So Strong," and a thoroughly authentic zydeco feel on "Sugaree" thanks to guest ‘Same Day' Ray Walsh on both accordion and rubboard. "Rainy Night In Hogtown," powered by big baritone sax courtesy of Pat Carey, serves as Kendall's declaration of musical intent, while "Wall Of Love," under its breezy bop, is a mature and thoughtful reflection on life's many blessings.
Kendall's band is a finely honed unit indeed. Guitarist Darren Poole is a marvel of craft and taste, every note razor-sharp and delivered with carefully considered precision. Wayne "Shakey" Dagenais positively sparkles on keys, his playing endlessly inventive yet firmly rooted in classic styles - this is a guy who's done his homework. Drum duties are handled by either Tyler Burgess or Mike Fitzpatrick, with Burgess contributing understated but effective harmonica on a handful.
A thoroughly enjoyable outing by a top-notch band, "Feels Real Strong" is a musical feast, the stay-at-home equivalent of catching the best band on the circuit on a great night. Don't miss this one ...!
"I've always enjoyed listening to "Dusty & Pearl" but man, you cats knocked it out of the park with "Feels Real Strong". Every track is a killer! Darren's guitar just oozes tone, Mike and Tyler shuffle like monsters, Shakey tickles the ivories like a man possessed and your bass is like a ten ton weight that keeps everything anchored. I defy anyone to listen to "Rainy Night In Hogtown", "Terrified Blues" or "That Thing" and not tap their toes or snap their fingers. I firmly believe that this record is worthy of serious Maple Blues AND Juno Award consideration. In a business where style often overshadows substance, "Feels Real Strong" IS the real deal!"
Glenn Kimberley (musician)
CD Review by Diane Wells
The various comings, goings and offshoots from the Canadian musical entity known as Downchild have been almost as varied as those of Ronnie Hawkins’ camp, so it’s no surprise to see another of its long-term members branching out on his own. On the capricious Dusty & Pearl, the unobtrusive Downchild bassist steps up to the forefront to present his own musical inspirations, lyrically, vocally and instrumentally.
While barely straying from the Downchild fold, Gary has the support of more than 30 of Ontario’s finest bluesmen, including under-exposed super-players like Pete Schmidt, Teddy Leonard, Darren Poole, Steve Grisbrook, Larry Bodner, Brian Fraser, Rod Phillips, Jim Casson, Little Bobby (Chorney), Richard Bell and Martin Aucoin. A few of his erstwhile band mates – Mike Fitzpatrick, Pat Carey, Michael Fonfara, Chuck Jackson and even Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh - also contribute, as do a few females.
Mr. Kendall commands the listeners’ immediate attention with “We’ll Be Allright”, a mid-tempo Zydeco groove and Clapton-like vocals, sung in duet with blues queen Suzie Vinnick. It’s a warm, happy-go-lucky introduction, with even better songs to follow. Kendall’s “Worn In” is the kind of burlesque-swanky blues song that Mick Jagger was fond of covering in his younger days.
Kendall’s capacity for compassion and inclusion is reinforced on “Don’t Be Sad”, just one of his many sparkling originals on the CD. It’s a percussive reggae-rocker encouraging one to lean on family and friends in times of trouble, although he may be expressing this sentiment with a particular listener in mind.
Another example of compassion is “Spread the Love”, subtitled for his young grandson, Kadin, the victim (now on the mend) of a senseless drive-by shooting in Toronto a couple of years ago. Shirley Kendall gives a spoken-word intro to the song in what sounds to be a First Nations tongue. While Gary performs on acoustic guitar and vocals (with backup vocals from Johnny & The Johns – Wright, Mays and Dickie), Terry Wilkins plays gut-string bass, Tyler Burgess adds both drums and harmonica, and Steve Grisbrook and Teddy Leonard add layering with their acoustic guitars, including a resonator.
You’ll recognize the Downchild influence on the swingin’ blues of Gary’s own “All Dressed Up” and the soulful strut of “You Can’t Be Lucky All the Time”. There’s a vague ’50s sound to James Harman’s “Grindin’ Bump” (from his Two Sides to Every Story), Brian Fraser’s “Savin It Up for You”, as well as the ensuing “Lucky at Love”, a catchy Kendall collaboration with Judy Brown who belts out the lead vocals on this one, backed by Brenda Campbell.
There's a bit of social and political insight on the drum-rockin' organ-drenched "Sumkinda Sumthin [Going Wrong]" with the astute observation: "To find an honest politician, try to be a magician; no room for an honest (decent/ workin') man, just getting pushed aside".
Gary adds both rhythm and bass to Pete Schmidt’s lead guitar on Mitch Kashmar’s “Night Creeper”, previously covered much more raunchily by Matt Minglewood (with Michael Pickett on harmonica). Mitch/Michael’s part is sweetened up by Little Bobby (of the Jumpstarts) to suit Kendall’s more laid-back approach without losing the essence of celebrating a nocturnal lifestyle.
“Bluesona Slonite”, an instrumental jazz-blues fusion originally recorded on saxophonist Chris Murphy’s solo CD, Blowin the Horn, is stunning, as is Chris’s contribution on “You Can’t Be Lucky All the Time”.
The CD closes appropriately with “Thanks Alot”, a brass-laden instrumental shuffle mixes elements of R&B, soul and funk. In addition to saxmen Murphy and Carey, it also features Al Lerman (of Fathead) on weepin’ Mississippi and tenor saxophone, Chris Whiteley on trumpet, Michael Fonfara on organ and piano, and Tom Bona giving it that extra kick on the drumkit. Somewhere along the way, the fatness of the bass gets lost in the shuffle, but that’s the mark of an expert, knowing when to blend in and when to stand out.
The songs on Dusty & Pearl are full productions, with at least a half-dozen players filling out the songs with unique musical touches. That means there’s enough variety in pace and style without parting from the general ambience of relaxed, pleasant enjoyment.
Dusty & Pearl is a topnotch, tasty batch of ear candy! I look forward to the next Kendall CD.
Maple Blues Magazine Dec 04
Gary Kendall Dusty & Pearl 47 Records 47R001
There may not be a single local musician in town who has not shared a stage with Gary. This has meant that he has absorbed most every blues style. He currently plays bass for Downchild and books the Silver Dollar Room but he's often found around town with other bands or leading his own. (Those are his basses on the cover). This has been the story for some years. I first encountered him when he was busily and happily making the Black Swan the `Oasis of Blues on the Danforth' and the Kendall-Wall Band played every Saturday afternoon. He has been slowly writing songs and at least one of the songs here was also performed on a Kendall-Wall cassette I still have. There is an excellent reflection on that history here: "Worn In (But Not Worn Out)" which might be one of the best `veteran' songs I've heard. He uses a world-weary voice on this mid-tempo rocker, leaving in no doubt that it hasn't always been easy. And then there is an unexpected disaster, with the pellet gun injury to his grandson Kadin. "Spread the Love (Kadin's Song)" is an acoustic hymn to childhood instead of something much more hateful.
The rest of the songs reflect the groups he's been in and feature many more players than I have room to mention. "All Dressed Up" is one of several that recall Downchild, all of whose members appear on one song or another. "Don't Be Sad" is a solid reggae song with Suzie Vinnick on back-up vocal. "Savin' It Up For You" is another rocking highlight. Judy Brown takes the vocal on a song she co-wrote with Gary, "Lucky at Love". One of the two non-originals is a Roosevelt Sykes song, "You Can't Be Lucky All The Time", which Gary sings particularly well.
All the musicians do their bit for a bass man who steps out with a fine CD. Check out the ad in this issue for ordering info and the launch party. See you there.
BLUES By Brad Wheeler
Friday, January 7, 2005, Page R28
Dusty & Pearl - Gary Kendall - 47 Records
A mainstay fixture in the Toronto blues league, Downchild bassist Gary Kendall calls in favours for his solo debut and is paid back well. A veritable who's who of local players contributes to an album that treads on straight blues grounds only part of the time. We hear zydeco flair on opener We'll Be Allright, with co-singer Suzie Vinnick shoring up Kendall's threadbare vocals. On the retro shuffled ballad Lucky at Love, a longing Judy Brown sings greatly and resiliently, while on the simmering, sad-keyed instrumental Bluesona Slonite, Kendall on bass, guitarist Steve Grisbrook, tenor saxophonist Chris Murphy and pianist Michael Fonfara trade lines fluently. Most everywhere, the support is able -- a favourable comment on Kendall's own reputation as much as it is on the backers' pooled musicianship.
LivinBlues CD Reviews by Gary Tate
GARY KENDALL: DUSTY & PEARL (47 RECORDS)
Gary Kendall is a long-standing veteran of the Downchild Blues Band, with a solid reputation as a dependably adroit bass player. He's also a Maple Blues multi-award winner. Dusty & Pearl is his first solo effort, completed with the assistance of 33 of the best Blues musicians in Canada. And Gary has shared countless stages with all of them. But only now has Gary stepped to the forefront in the leading role. Generally, this effort has a rather gentle vibe to it, a relaxed "coming-together" coherency that kind of sets it apart from the high energy associated with Downchild.
Although Grindin' Bump and Sumkinda Sumthin' aren't that far removed from typical Donnie Walsh/Chuck Jackson fare. Dusty & Pearl is indebted as much to Bob Marley (check out All Dressed Up) as it is to Muddy Waters. Bluesonia Slonite veers sharply in a jazzy direction, cool sax emanating from Chris Murphy and classy guitar lines from Steve Grisbrook. Lucky At Love is a slice of old-fashioned country with Judy Brown taking vocal duties, special kudos going to Teddy Leonard and Brian Fraser for some fine down-home playing on guitar and piano respectively. Spread The Love is dedicated to Gary's grandson Kadin, who was seriously injured a couple of years, but is now on his way to full recovery. From a Blues standpoint, the most convincing track is Night Creeper, featuring Pete Schmidt and Little Bobby on guitar and harp respectively. Dusty & Pearl is the rewarding culmination of 30 years of waiting for your time to come. Better late than never. MP3- Sumkinda Sumpin' | surf to www.garykendall.com
9 of the 13 tracks on "Dusty & Pearl" have Gary Kendall songwriting or co-writing credits indicating talents beyond that of Blues bassist . . . so who is Gary Kendall? Described by some as a stalwart of the Canadian Blues scene, he is a multiple Maple Blues Awardee & regular bassist with Downchild, one of Toronto's top Blues acts. Whilst this album is his first release in his own right he is joined in the recording by no less than 33 of Canada's musical great & good. Not surprisingly, with such a wide spread of talented input, the range of styles represented is wide & includes cajun & reggae as well as more Bluesy flavours. "Dusty & Pearl" will probably earn Gary Kendall another Maple Blues Award & it will be well deserved.
DUSTY & PEARLGARY KENDALL (47 RECORDS)
In spite of how cool a band's angst-ridden, narcissistic frontman may appear at first glance, the bassist is often the soft-spoken fella you really wanna hang out with. This can create a small conundrum when a bass player steps into the limelight for his long-awaited solo turn. Thankfully, Downchild's Gary Kendall steers clear of Gene Simmons territory, offering up 13 tracks of organic blues with the help of, ahem, 33 of his best friends. While Kendall sounds a lot like mellow 361 Ocean Blvd.-era Clapton here, the occasional funk-reggae groove keeps the enjoyment factor high in much the same way that Willie & The Hand Jive pepped up Slowhand's recording. And he can break your heart, too, as on Lucky At Love, which features an impossibly good lead vocal by Judy Brown.
One of the hardest-working musicians in Toronto's impressively large blues collective, Gary Kendall has all the attributes of the ultimate professional sideman: Reliability, a granite-hard fix on the groove, an encyclopedic understanding of the variables of texture and feel from which roots music in general and the blues in particular derive colour and character, movie-star good looks and a cool demeanour that only add to the cachet of any artist he's backing, and, most valuable of all to a jack in his trade, a reassuring humility.
That Kendall has taken 30 years to make his own creative mark with Dusty & Pearl (Iridescent Music) is lamentable, and in the grand scheme of things, the independent release is more a high-class calling card than a recording destined to shake the blues music business to its foundations. Kendall is an indifferent singer and an unremarkable songwriter who relies on traditional, even outdated composition templates. No matter. His great asset — apart from his bass playing — is his good nature, a quality that draws the best from other musicians. Some 33 of them have contributed to Dusty & Pearl — the pet names of Kendall's favourite Fender basses. Performances are uniformly outstanding and enthusiastic, and the material — a mix of originals, co-writes and lesser known classics — stretches well beyond roadhouse blues and boogie into reggae/ska turf, zydeco and jazz. Strongest cuts on this outstanding showcase are the Marley-influenced "Don't Be Sad," the bleary, impressionistic instrumental "Bluesona Slonite," and the swampy, Louisiana—flavoured "You Can't Be Lucky All The Time."
Top blues bassist brings his solo tour to Barrie
Gary Kendall will start the February Blues off on the right note, with the release of his first solo CD, at Sticky Fingers on Feb. 4. A long-time bass player with the Downchild Blues Band, Kendall has always been comfortable in the supportive role, having had a successful music career over nearly four decades. Now, at 57, the making of Dusty and Pearl is a milestone, debuting nine original new songs, and several covers. "I knew a couple of years ago that I was ready," Kendall said, adding that a friend's comment helped motivated him. "He said, 'you're the best-known Canadian blues musician who doesn't have his own recording.'" While he mulled it over for years, Kendall finally set his goal in 2004. "Instead of just thinking about it - I don't usually run my mouth about stuff unless I can back it up - I took the other approach. I said, 'I'm just going to start telling people I'm going to do this and then I'll be forced to keep my word.'" Kendall, a firm believer that you can't just wait around for someone to offer you a record contract, took matters into his own hands. He met with the owner of Iridescent Music, and struck a deal for studio time. Kendall's reputation and connections in the industry drew the involvement of 33 high-profile musicians, who ensured Kendall took his turn in the spotlight. Members of Downchild were included on the recording, too. But the result is a departure from that band's sound, allowing Kendall to capture his honesty in a uniquely-seasoned and robust style. "I had to make a conscious effort not to sound like Downchild," Kendall said. "Although, there are a couple of songs where you hear that influence and they have the Downchild feel. There were some songs I threw in because they're not even close to anything Downchild would do. I really wanted the recording to stand alone. I love playing with that band, but I like having my own solo career and being independent as well." As an eager teen, Kendall became a bass player quite by default. "The guy who was starting the band said 'one of you has to play rhythm guitar and one of you has to play bass.' My friend said 'no way am I playing bass.' I said I would. I just wanted to play in a band. As soon as I made my first $20 playing music, I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life." Dusty and Pearl is a testament to one man's evolution in musicianship. One song, Worn In (But Not Worn Out) has been getting a good amount of radio play. It was inspired by a comment Kendall heard in a bar and thought would make a good line. "As I started writing the song, I started seeing similarities. I'm an older guy, but I've still got a lot left ..." It's a sentiment that prevails among most musicians of Kendall's calibre, he said. "We're glad we stayed in it this long. You realize the longer you're around, the better you get. It gets easier to actually play music because you find yourself and who you are." Although Kendall is not a stranger to the local entertainment scene, his appearance with The Gary Kendall Band at Sticky Fingers (199 Essa Rd.), Friday, Feb. 4, at 9:30 p.m., marks his first time in Barrie on his own, under his own name, finally with his own recording to back him up.
Arthur - Trent University Student & Community Newspaper - March 21, 2005
The Blues come to Peterborough
Snowflakes fell outside the Red Dog Friday, March 11, as the Gary Kendall Band took the stage. Kendall is a member of the Canadian blues institution Downchild and has been playing the bass guitar for 42 years. He was in town to promote his new album Dusty and Pearl.
“My first show was at the Community Center in Rasland Village. We didn’t even have a drummer, just two guitars. I was playing the bass on a guitar, I think,” Kendall reminisces. “I love it [music], it defines me. If I didn’t play, I wouldn’t be a happy person. I guess sometimes you just want to be out there.”
The crowd wasn’t all of Kendall’s generation. A smattering of students and Peterborough locals attended the show. And by midnight the band had the crowd on their feet. Kendall played music you could dance to. The quartet opened with a boogie-woogie number, followed by a rumba groove -- and both attracted people onto the floor.
Both hour long sets mixed blues standards with pieces from the new album. Kendall spiced up the set with numbers like Worn In, a testament to his, and some of the audience’s, ongoing vitality. During the second hour Kendall invited Kim Doolittle, a local artist, to perform two songs with the band. “It’s been a while since I sang the blues,” Doolittle quipped after the first number, Turn the Lamp Down Low. I couldn’t tell. And later in the evening during another light moment the band played a special version of happy birthday to a woman in the audience.
The Kendall band offered some of the premier Canadian blues talent. Teddy Leonard, and Mike Fitzpatrick, both Downchild members, backed Kendall on guitar and drums respectively. Brian Fraser played keyboards and did some lead vocals. Fraser and Leonard had ample opportunity to showcase their talent and lit up the venue with incendiary yet articulate sonic orations. Fraser and Kendall were a typical low-key rhythm section and maintained a rocksteady groove all night.
Kendall had a lot to say about the blues. “It [the blues] goes through phases. And sometimes it’s tough to attract new people. But like country/western, blues fans are loyal,” Kendall said. He added that part of the reason for the blues’ resilience is the universality of the message: “it’s about not having too many options.”
Kendall, 58 and a native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, started listening to rock and roll after he saw Elvis’ groundbreaking performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. “The next day I went out and got the Elvis ‘78 Hound Dog, but what I didn’t know at the time was he was playing songs by Big Momma Thorton and Buddy Holly.” After hearing Elvis he used to sit next to the radio and turn the dial until he could get some American station, even if it was only for a few seconds.
“I always knew I had to listen to other kinds of music, but I didn’t understand classical, and I couldn’t figure out jazz.”
In the 60s, Kendall turned his attention to rock and roll. “I started with bands like the Ventures, John and the Hurricanes.” A through and through Canadian, Kendall attributed some of his interest in rock to a CBC documentary he saw. But eventually he got into the Rolling Stones and this time he checked the liner notes.
The disco era was especially dismal for the blues. “Sometimes in the 70s I took the shit gigs. Disco stuff. I did it for a year, then said fuck it.” Afterwards Kendall worked a series of straight jobs, as a cab driver, a factory worker, and even for Canada Post. Evidently, the experience scared him back to the blues but Kendall said, “it gave me perspective.”
Today there is a Canadian blues scene that didn’t exist thirty years ago, especially in Toronto where Kendall got his foot in the door. Right now he divides his time between Downchild, his band and duties as the musical director of the Maple Blues Awards. According to Kendall with the formation of the Toronto Blues society the Canadian scene has, “never been better.” I asked Kendall about any memorable shows he has played over the years and aside from playing with Muddy Waters, he said it was “the one I’m doing right now.”
Exclaim! Canada's Music Authority
By Eric Thom
April 13, 2005
Gary Kendall is a fixture on the Canadian blues scene and, to those who know him, a stand-up guy’s guy. Dusty & Pearl represents an artist clearly inspired by his love of the music business, his family and the people all around him — and that’s something audible here. A true co-op, Dusty & Pearl is wall-to-wall with artists eager to pitch in and support a true friend (Suzie Vinnick, Richard Bell, Chris Murphy, Teddy Leonard, Donnie Walsh all feature amongst the 33 guest). “We’ll Be Allright” seems truly autobiographical, served up with an upbeat Louisiana twist. Of the 13 tracks, Kendall has authored or co-authored 9 of them — songwriting being an unexpected strength — and smart tracks like “Worn In” prove the veteran player to be only “weathered, not weary.” The lazy, laidback delivery is the perfect fit with great performances from Brian Fraser (piano) Teddy Leonard (guitar) and Donnie Walsh (harp). Yet the best tracks include the ska-soaked take on Kendall’s own “Don’t Be Sad” with its wall of percussion (Jim Casson) and strong backing vocals (Suzie Vinnick), and the uptown, sophisticated jazz track, “Bluesona Slonite,” which sizzles under the slick keyboards of Michael Fonfara and smooth tenor sax of Chris Murphy — while showcasing some of Kendall’s best bass on record. Kendall might admit he’s not the strongest singer on the block, but make no mistake, this is an album that’s all about heart and there’s no denying the emotion that openly spills all over both Dusty & Pearl.
Gary Kendall threw a party, and guess who showed up.
When someone who has been around as long as Gary Kendall has, starts to do a recording, you can bet he will have a few friends he can call on. The Downchild Blues Band bass player has managed to assemble an incredible list of special guests, including: Donnie Walsh and all the members of Downchild, 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, Suzie Vinnick, Judy Brown, John Dickie and Johnny Wright are heard through out. Richard Bell brought in his accordian and keyboardists Rod Philipps and Martin Aucoin added some organ. Terry Wilkins provided acoustic bass on one track and Little Bobby and Pete Schmidt played some great harmonica and blues guitar. Drummers included 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.
It is no easy task to harness the selected talents of this group, without making it sound like an individual artist's own CD track. Keeping their contributing presence, without letting it get in the way of his own sound, is where Gary gets the credit. All the players are at the top of the Toronto music scene and the performance levels are all top notch and even thought the various mixes all take on different musical hues as they spotlight the various guests, the overall effect is a wonderful presentation of comfort food for the musical soul.
The opening track, We'll Be Allright" starts the party with a cajun feel, courtesy of Richard Bell's accordion, which immediately sets laid back and relaxed atmosphere, with Suzie Vinnick providing vocal harmonies. Additional vocals on the other tracks come from just about everybody, including John Mays, Johnny Wright and John Dickie. Judy Brown solos on " Lucky at Love" ( Kendal & Brown), and the band delivers a vintage feeling, reminiscent of an earlier era of blues, clean, simple and satsisfying.
With 'Worn In" (kendal), Gary invocates a Jimmy Reed feeling, helped along by Donnie Walsh providing the acoustic harp and Brian Fraser on piano. the lyrics are catchy and the beat is very danceable. "Night Creeper" (Kashmar), vocals and bass by Gary, spotlights two of my favorite performers, Little Bobby and Peter Schmidt. Bobby's opening harp work is a stand out on this track, and Peter's guitar is alwas impecable. Mike Fitzpatrick on drums completes the quartet.
Gary has recorded nine of his own songs and added four more to provide a "real musical deal". The entire CD is very warm and familiar, like listening to old friends, at a party, just playing for fun. The lyrics seep into your brain, like they deserve to be there. With plenty of trumpets, saxophones, harmonicas and piano providing additional musical weight, you might have realized that the chances of some of these tracks sounding simply great, is a distinct possibility. A bit like "Downchild", a bit like "Powder Blues" a lot like Gary Kendall's band. Easy to dance to and easier to sing along with. Nothing is out of place, just good ol' blues, done the good old way.
Bear Claw's Blues Picks 2005
by Bear Claw Bob
Gary Kendall "Dusty and Pearl" 47 Records 2004, Produced by Gary Kendall. Veteran Toronto bassist Gary Kendall, well-known for his work with Downchild Blues Band waited a long time to put together a solo album, and when did he came up with this gem. To say it's a solo work, however, isn't really accurate; the credits read like a who's who of Canadian blues and roots music. The very first track "We'll Be Allright" sets the tone - this is the kind of music you can listen to while you're sitting back when it's thirty below outside and it takes you to warm comfortable places you don't want to leave. The players are all adept at weaving seamless instrumental fabrics where leads rise up naturally...there are no rough edges here. Kendall's choice of material is joyfully eclectic, showcasing diverse styles from Chicago blues to Zydeco-tinged tastes of New Orleans. He wrote or co-wrote 9 of the 13 tracks, showing a wry lyrical sensibility that shines in a wide range of genres and subject material. This one's an excellent first pick for 2005.
May 4, 2005
You expect to hear feel-good blues on Gary Kendall's debut CD, Dusty & Pearl. After all, he's the long-time bassist for the Downchild Blues Band, which has practically defined that genre of music in Canada.
But when the Gary Kendall Band comes to P.K. Creek this Saturday, the blues will be combined with shades of rock, jazz, country, reggae and more. Recorded at Toronto's Iridescent Studios, Kendall's self-produced CD includes nine original songs and four obscure blues covers.
"I think I surprised a lot of people with the diversity on this record," he said.
After a 30-year-plus career that includes several Maple Blues Awards, Kendall has an unfailingly natural feel for laying down a groove.
But beyond that -- and despite his protestations -- he also emerges as a capable singer, with an easy delivery not unlike American great J.J. Cale.
Kendall recruited no less than 33 Canadian blues notables for this recording, and set them loose. Guests range from Fathead guitarist Teddy Leonard, to acoustic bassist Terry Wilkins, to singers Suzie Vinnick, Judy Brown, John Dickie, Johnny Wright, and John Mays.
"Being a rhythm section player, I tended to feature the other players moreso than myself," he explained.
"The diversity of the material came from bringing so many people into it."
His live band includes Leonard, Downchild bandmate Mike Fitzpatrick on drums, and Brian Fraser on piano.
"In some ways it's similar to the CD. We cover a lot of bases," he said.
"It's a good rockin' blues band. And a lot of the stuff is pretty obscure (like Lazy Lester, and James Harmon). I don't go for the standards everybody else does. I'm a hard man to a get a request off of. I don't do Stevie Ray Vaughan."
Kendall has wanted to do a solo CD for years, but, "always got sidetracked" working on other people's records. Now his disc is being spun on blues stations in North America, South America, Europe, and Australia.
"(The reception has) been encouraging enough to start thinking of doing a second one," he said, with a laugh. "It has kind of triggered some new ideas."
June 23 – July 6, 2005
by Gary 17
Gary Kendall steps into the limelight with new cd and band
Appearing live at Timothy’s Pub Friday June 24
Long the exception to the adage that bass players don’t get no respect, Downchild Blues Band four-stringer Gary Kendall upped the ante with the release last year of his first album, Dusty & Pearl, which, as he points out on the dustjacket, while billed as a solo effort “was completed with the help of 33 musicians and singers.” And not just any musicians and singers either — the utterly charmingly and delightful 13-tracks set of mostly originals is a romp through various styles of Blues and Roots music delivered convincingly with the aid of simple but effective composition and performances by some the GTA’s (and Canada’s!) foremost players.
No surprise here — Kendall does bookings for various high-profile Blues clubs and can pretty much take his pick from the elite. Some of the luminaries include various members of Downchild, including Donnie Walsh, Chuck Jackson, Michael Fonfara and Pat Carey; singers such as Suzie Vinnick, Johnny Wright, John Mays, John Dickie, Brenda Campbell and Judy Brown, and chip-ins from Rod Phillips and Brian Fraser on keys, Steve Grisbrook and Teddy Leonard on guitar, drummers Mike Fitzpatrick, Tom Bona, Jim Casson and Tyler Burgeess and an assortment of sax/horn/reeds accompanyist such as Chris Murphy, Little Bobby, Al Lerman, Rich Howse, Chris Whiteley, Howard Moore, Steve Donald, Richard Bell and Larry Bodner. Whew!
I don’t know which of the various abovementioned players will be backing Kendall when he appears at Timothy’s Pub on Fri. June 24, but I plan to be there to find out! –17