Monday, May 30, 2016

Toronzo Cannon | 2016 Chicago Blues Festival Preview


Toronzo Cannon performed in the Chicago Cultural Center as part of a series of FREE Chicago Blues Festival Preview Events.

I'm not originally from Chicago, but moved here with my wife a few years ago. I had never heard of nor seen Toronzo Cannon perform prior to this concert. It was a great show! The band was tight, professional and well rehearsed. Toronzo is not only a good guitar player, but a good performer who knows how to engage with his audience while he performs. For me a live show has to bring more than just a band playing music. I can put on a pair of headphones and listen to music at home if all I want to do is to listen to music. Toronzo Cannon and his band "bring it" with style.

Toronzo Cannon on his knees while playing a Gibson, Les Paul guitar.

Toronzo Cannon grew up in Chicago. The Chicago style and sound of blues undoubtedly flows through his veins. However, I detect the influence of two great non Chicago guitarists on Toronzo's guitar playing, For example, the tone of Toronzo's guitar and amp combination at this show were clearly influenced by the late, massively talented guitarist from the great state of Texas, Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Guitar enthusiasts will also note that Toronzo Cannon is left handed. The monumental Jimi Hendrix was also a left handed guitar player and you occasionally hear a bit of Jimi's influence on Toronzo's playing. The day of this show Toronzo played a white Fender Stratocaster intended for a right handed guitar player as did Jimi Hendrix on occasion. Like Jimi Hendrix, Toronzo had the guitar inverted with the headstock facing to his right. The headstock is the section at the end the guitar's neck where the tuning machines are installed. When a guitar designed for a right handed guitar player is normally held the guitar's headstock would point to the guitarists left hand side.

A white, Fender Stratocastor guitar, inverted as it would be held by a left handed guitar player.

Toward the end of the show Toronzo played a 2 part medley that combined a Jimi Hendrix song with the Muddy Waters song Hoochie Coochie Man. At one pont in the show Toronzo played a short guitar solo with his teeth just like Jimi Hendrix did during some of his shows. Toronzo's band was all about good music and fun.

My wife and I both noticed the diversity of people at the show. Black, white, brown, Asian, young and old from teenagers to people in their 70's and even 80's. Dancing, grooving, swaying to the rhythm of the blues. Blues music talks about life. It tells stories that we can all relate to in one way or another.

I'm NOT a writer, critic or photographer. Though I've worked professionally in the production side of music I am a music fan first and foremost. I only write about performers that I think are worth seeing from the perspective of an audience member. See Toronzo Cannon and his band. You will enjoy the show! Toronzo is currently now signed with Chicago based Alligator records.

My wife and I also attended the FREE Chicago Blues Festival preview event "Speakin’ of the Blues: Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of Alligator Records with Bruce Iglauer and Lil’ Ed". Bruce Iglauer is the founder of Chicago's Alligator Records. Lil' Ed is the front man and guitarist for Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials. Lil' Ed appeared without The Blues Imperials and played a few solo songs using slide guitar. Great stuff! I now consider myself a "Little Ed Head". I'll write more about this event at a later time.

Toronzo Cannon will also be performing at this years Chicago Blues Festival (2016). The Chicago Blues Festival is presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). The Chicago Blues Festival is currently the largest FREE blues festival in the world. The 2016 Chicago Blues Festival is June 10 to the 12th.

The Band:
Toronzo Cannon: guitar
Melvin "pookie styx" Carlisle: drums
Dave Forte "white chocolate": bass guitar
Luca Chiellini (direct from Italy): keyboards

Purchase Toronzo Cannon's latest CD entitled "The Chicago Way".