For over three decades Powder Blues has been Canada’s premier blues band. They mix Swing, Blues, Jazz, Rock & Roll and R & B into their unique sound. This has resulted in an appeal so wide that people from seven to seventy often swing side by side at a Powder Blues concert. Over the years the band has toured ceaselessly throughout Canada, the United States and overseas, spreading the joy of a music that makes people smile and dance.
Though fads come and go Powder Blues has stayed true to its roots. When they first hit the recording scene in late 1979, with their debut album, ‘Uncut’, after nearly two years of wood shedding in Vancouver’s then flourishing nightclub scene, the big record labels shrugged their efforts off as ‘not commercial’, saying there was ‘no market for the blues’.
powder blues Undiscouraged, the band pressed the album and proceeded to sell it off stage and deliver it to radio stations. Switchboards at the radio stations lit up with calls asking ‘who’s that?’ and other stations followed suit. After selling nearly 30,000 copies in a matter of weeks, the major record labels entered a bidding war for the right to distribute this ‘non-commercial’ product nationally. RCA won the contract and to date Powder Blues albums have gone on to sell over a million copies worldwide.
Band highlights include winning Canada’s most prestigious music award, the Juno, headlining and recording live at the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, winning a W.C. Handy Award in Memphis, Tennessee and touring Europe and the Soviet Union. They have appeared in concert with legends like Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, James Brown, Albert Collins, James Cotton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, the Who, ZZ Top, the Doobie Brothers, Edgar Winter and Tower of Power.
Leader, Tom Lavin has written many of the band’s best-known songs including ‘Doin’ It Right’[‘On the Wrong Side of Town’] and ‘Boppin With the Blues’. Born in Chicago where he learned his craft by watching and working with local bands and ‘blues legends’, Tom moved to Vancouver in the late sixties to study filmmaking. bandsBy night he worked as a musician in the thriving downtown nightclub scene. This eventually led to working as a studio musician and subsequently, to his role as record producer and studio owner.
Over the 40-plus years that Tom has been singing and playing guitar he has won awards including BCMIA awards for ‘Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter and Producer of the Year’, a CMIA Juno award for ‘Best New Band’ and the American W.C. Handy award for ‘Best Foreign Blues Band’. He has over a dozen ‘Gold, Platinum and Double Platinum’ records for playing on, writing for or producing such bands as Powder Blues, Prism, April Wine, Long John Baldry, Amos Garrett, and many others. His studio, Blue Wave, has gold records for Powder Blues and numerous other artists and has recorded music for countless products, movies and TV shows.
The current Powder Blues line-up includes veterans Mike Kalanj on keyboards and vocals, Tony Marryatt on bass, Jerry Cook on tenor sax, Vince Mai on trumpet and Daryl Bennett on drums.