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this is one sweet blues suite

Whiteley and Braithwaite host ‘first-class party’
Rhythms N’ Rhymes

58 SHOWBIZ

The Toronto Sun n Friday, OctOber 12, 2012

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Swing by Glenn Gould Studio next Friday night and you’ll get a master class in the blues from two leading lights of the scene. Multi-instrumentalist Chris Whiteley and singer Diana Braithwaite will be premiering The Blues Suite, a collection of original songs written in various traditional blues styles. But don’t worry, the ace guitarist assures us it’s not going to be “a dry, formal event. It will be a first-class blues party!” I have no doubt about that. I’ve seen the two perform in front of hardcore blues fans at Hugh’s Room and for hundreds of high school students at Koerner Hall and I can attest to the fact that they charmed and entertained both audiences. ‘The songs reflect a wide range of topics, from stories near to our hearts, contemporary events, humour, and good old dancing and carrying on,” Whiteley says. “People will hear everything from slide guitar-driven blues to a full horn section, from classic harmonica shuffles and piano-drenched slow blues to ballads and full-out

rockin’ blues.” After hearing what’s going to be on the menu, this fan of the blues doesn’t need further incentive to check the show. But it’s always a pleasure watching or hearing the husband-and-wife team making beautiful music. The award-winning duo’s last two essential records, Night Bird Blues and Morning Sun, pays homage to the Bluebird Sound — the classic blues sound of the ‘30s and ‘40s — and hipped many of us to a style that we weren’t familiar with. Whiteley and Braithwaite were commissioned by the Toronto Blues Society to compose The Blues Suite and invested two years working on it. “The Blues Society wanted to make sure that along with the writing of new works, there was a performance aspect to the project,” Whiteley explains. “The idea was to compose and arrange a collection of new songs and then present all of the new works in a concert setting.” He says the personal aspect of the suite covers everything from songs about the struggles of ancestors to songs about

sitting on the back porch with friends and family. “We talk about our own lives and we used our experiences to write little stories,” Whiteley says. “We also refer to some events that happened in Canada. We tried to create a new perspective on some tried and true blues themes using our own style.” Braithwaite’s ancestors settled in Ontario four generations ago by way of the Underground Railroad, and she shares that powerful story in her own inimitable style on Wellington County. Whiteley says that compared to their past offerings, The Blues Suite was a truly collaborative effort. “We both contributed to the music and lyrics of every song, often sitting around the kitchen table late into the night writing, editing, making little home recordings and just trying to hone the songs into something we felt proud of,” he says. “We wanted these songs to convey something about who we are as artists and as people, as well as to be entertaining and enjoyable to listen to. “We hope that our love for the blues shines through.” NOTE: The Blues Suite premieres next Friday at Glenn Gould Studio. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50. For tickets, call 416-872-4255. 255 Front St. W.

WHIteley & BraItHWaIte

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Stan Lee Media, no longer associated with Stan Lee (above), is suing Disney.