Cannon And Birchwood Are Part Of Bessie Smith Strut June 12

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Alligator Records artists Toronzo Cannon and Selwyn Birchwood will perform at the Bessie Smith Strut on Monday, June 12.

Toronzo Cannon takes the Bessie Smith Stage at 7 p.m. at 200 East Martin Luther King Blvd. and Selwyn Birchwood plays the Trestle Stage at 7:30 p.m. at E. Martin Luther King Blvd. and University Ave. 

Review for Toronzo Cannon And Selwyn Birchwood:

Electrifying blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Toronzo Cannon will play songs from his Alligator Records debut, The Chicago Way. Visionary young blues star Selwyn Birchwood is celebrating the release of his new Alligator album, Pick Your Poison. Birchwood is set to release Pick Your Poison, his forward-looking new CD, on Friday, May 19.

Toronzo Cannon has become one of Chicago's most recognized and most popular bluesmen through the sheer force of his music, his songs, his live charisma, and most impressively, his passion for what he is doing. He's battled his way to the top of the ultra-competitive Windy City blues scene, has already played multiple tours of Europe and continues to deliver roof-raising performances around the U.S.A. 

The Chicago Way was produced by Cannon and Alligator president Bruce Iglauer. The album is comprised of all self-penned songs, inspired by his deep, homegrown Chicago roots and powered by his blistering guitar playing and soul-baring vocals. Cannon's songs - from searing blues anthems to swinging shuffles to soulful ballads to roof-raising rockers - tell timeless stories of common experiences in uncommon ways. MOJO magazine named his Alligator Records debut, The Chicago Way (produced by Cannon along with label president Bruce Iglauer), the #1 Blues CD of 2016. 

Cannon's unofficial launch from local hero to national star took place on June 13, 2015 at the world-renowned Chicago Blues Festival, where he performed as a festival headliner for the massive crowd. After announcing that he had just signed with Alligator Records, he delivered a riveting set, instantly earning tens of thousands of new fans. Original songs filled with razor-sharp solos rained from the stage, as Cannon melded the deepest Chicago blues with contemporary lyrics and soulful vocals. 

He's played the Chicago Blues Festival on nine separate occasions, either as a sideman, a special guest or, most recently, as a main stage headliner. When he's home, Cannon drives a Chicago Transit Authority bus by day and performs by night. Using every vacation day and day off and working four ten-hour shifts a week, Cannon arranges his schedule to gig out of town as much as possible. It isn't easy, but, like all of the Chicago greats who have come before him, blues is his calling. "I am proud to be part of a movement," he says, anxious to hit the road and bring his music to new fans in new places. "I'm proud to be standing on the shoulders of every great Chicago blues musician who came before me." 

On Pick Your Poison, Selwyn Birchwood, along with his band-saxophonist Regi Oliver, bassist Huff Wright and drummer Courtney "Big Love" Girlie-takes a major step forward, crafting visionary blues for a new generation of forward-looking fans. With his fiery guitar and lap steel playing, his trailblazing, instantly memorable songs and gritty, unvarnished vocals, Birchwood is among the most extraordinary young stars in the blues. His deep familiarity with blues tradition allows him to bust the genre wide open, adding new sounds, colors and textures, all delivered with a revival tent preacher's fervor and a natural storyteller's charisma. 

Birchwood wrote and produced all 13 songs on Pick Your Poison. His richly detailed, hard-hitting originals run the emotional gamut from the humorously personal My Whiskey Loves My Ex to the gospel-inflected Even The Saved Need Saving to the hard truths of the topical Corporate Drone and Police State to the existential choice of the title track. 

Since the 2014 release of his Alligator Records debut, Don't Call No Ambulance, Birchwood's meteoric rise from playing small Florida clubs to headlining international festival stages is nothing short of phenomenal. The album received the Blues Music Award and Living Blues Critics' Award for Best Debut Album Of 2014, and he won the 2015 Blues Blast Rising Star Award. Selwyn and his band have crisscrossed the U.S. and Europe repeatedly, delivering unforgettable live performances. 

With Pick Your Poison's urgent, uncompromising music, Selwyn Birchwood is forging new directions for the blues. The hard-hitting, cutting-edge songs on Pick Your Poison, along with his incendiary live performances, prove without a doubt his status as the blues' most sensational young talent.



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