LATE SUMMER BLUES NEWS
So far, it's been a busy summer full of amazing gigs! I am recently back from a cross-Canada solo tour that went incredibly well. The highlight would have to be the Vancouver Island Music Festival. Besides my own solo slot there, which I'm happy to say received a standing ovation, it was a treat to be involved in several "workshop stage" performances. These are where musicians playing at the fest share a stage and jam songs together. It was a thrill to trade licks with Senegal's Elage Diouf, play Lebonese influenced music with Lamia Yared et Ensemble Zaman, rootsy country with BC's Duck Creak and Ontario's Gabrielle Goulet.
Pictured above is a workshop stage that included former Bob Dylan/Levon Helm guitarist Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, NYC based band Western Centuries, Mississippi bluesman Terry Harmonica Bean, and Montreal folkie Rob Lutes. I was also honoured that my friend Shakura S'Aida invited me up for the final two songs of her Saturday night closing show that also boasted Sacred Steel's Chuck Campbell laying down some cool grooves on pedal steel guitar. Lots of music industry people were there as well, and I am excited that I have been invited to perform at another major western festival next August. More on that at a later date. A big thanks to artistic director Doug Cox for staging this wonderful festival!
There's lots of great gigs coming up. Check the "SHOWS" section often!
A BEAUTIFUL GIFT AS SUMMER IS IN FULL SWING!
Since moving out to the country nine years ago, I have been sitting in with some folks at the Havelock Town Hall most Wednesday afternoons. They play old time country music and fiddle tunes. They are warm, friendly people and it is always fun to hang out and sing some songs that I don't normally do in my shows. I was totally blown away last week when one of the jammers, Murray Henderson, presented my with a brand new 12 string guitar! He said he had never seen me play a 12 string and thought I should have one. It is a really nice guitar, hand-made in Canada with a cedar top, cherry body and mahogany neck. I will cherish it forever, not only as a fine instrument, but as a testament to how kind the people are around here. No doubt this baby will end up on a song or two on my next album!
Summer is in full swing and I have just returned from instructing at the Shared Harvest Harmonica Retreat, a three day harmonica workshop in Dunnville, Ontario. It was an amazing weekend with students coming from all corners of the globe. It was a treat to hang with everybody including the other instructors Joe Filisko, Roly Platt, Jerome Godboo and Carlos Del Junco. Andrew Zajac was also on hand, and I learned quite a bit from him about repairing harmonicas.
I am about to head out on a two week cross country tour. I'll be performing three shows a day on the VIA Rail train from Toronto to Vancouver. Once there, I play the Vancouver Island Music Fest for three days where other artists include Ry Cooder, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, Arlo Guthrie and many more. After that, it's a house concert presented by the White Rock Blues Society, then a concert at Wise Hall in Vancouver. I fly home on July 18th, play a couple of Ontario dates, then take two weeks off for vacation. As much as I love playing, I look forward to spending some downtime with my wife and enjoying life here at home on the river!
Gigs and touring always slow down in the winter months, but now that spring is here my calendar is brimming lots of great gigs. I've got theatre shows, house concerts, festivals, guest spots, plus a whole lot more!
The songwriting muse has been kind lately and I plan to include many newly written songs in my upcoming tour dates. I also hope to record a new album later in the fall, so stay tuned on that news. I hope you can make it out when I'm playing close by. Check the SHOWS section to see where I'm gigging near you.
HARD CORE HARP!
I am incredibly happy that Electro-Fi Records will include a track of mine on a new album slated for a fall release that celebrate's the label's 20th Anniversary. The album will be called Hard Core Harp and will feature tracks by Snooky Pryor, Billy Boy Arnold, Paul Oscher, Mark Hummel, George "Harmonica" Smith, James Harman, Harmonica Shah, Little Mack Simmons, Sam Myers and more. I am in some pretty stellar blues company here. My track, "Liquified Boogie", is an improvised harmonica instrumental I cut a few years back with The Juke Joint Rockers, which featured Grammy winner and long-time Muddy Waters drummer Willie Big Eyes Smith, along with Chicago stalwarts Bob Stroger and Little Frank; Jack DeKeyzer, Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, John Mays, Alec Fraser and Michael Fonfara. That was such a fun session which I co-produced with Alec Fraser. A big heartfelt thanks to Andrew Galloway at Electro-Fi for including me on this compilation, and to Andrew Kempa who initially hired me onto the Juke Joint Rockers album project. Once the disc is released, I'll have some copies available for sale at my shows.
I was honoured to receive a recognition award for "Leadership In Arts & Culture", presented by the County Of Peterborough. It's been a very busy summer so far and I was glad I was able to attend the award ceremony. A few weeks later I got this certificate in the mail from the government of Canada. Sweet!!
SLOW BURN MAKES "TOP ALBUMS OF THE YEAR" WORLDWIDE
The Roots Music Report just released the world-wide list of the Top 200 Blues Albums Of The Year. I'm pleased to report my "Slow Burn" disc made the year end list, sitting at #54. The number one album was "Let Me Get By" by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, which is a fave of mine too. "Slow Burn" managed a spot on the charts every week (except for one) since it's June 2016 release. It had previously reached as high as #4. The RMR list is based on world-wide radio play, so it's nice to see this collection of songs is reaching a lot of listeners. I'm grateful to all the DJs that have played it and to folks like you that have bought it. So far, I have sent mail-order purchases to Canada, USA, Europe, The Netherlands, Australia and South America.
TOPS IN 2016
I just learned that my Slow Burn CD made the Top 40 for 2016 on "Inside The Blues", heard Saturdays - Noon to 1 pm ET on BLUES RADIO CANADA www.BluesRadioCanada.com - repeated Mon, Wed, Fridays noon to 1 pm and Sundays - 7 to 8 pm ET on DAWG FM Ottawa www.dawgfm.com - repeated Monday mornings from 8-9 am and Friday afternoons from 2-3 pm. Thank you James Doran!
Two Maple Blues Award Nominations!!
The Maple Blues Awards honour the finest in Canadian blues music. I'm grateful to be nominated in two categories, "Horn Player Of The Year" and "Acoustic Act Of The Year". The latter is a fan-voted category and you can register to vote for your favourite Canadian blues artists here. The 20th Annual Maple Blues Awards will be held at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Koerner Hall on Monday, January 23th, 2017 at 7:00pm in Toronto.
SLOW BURN IS HERE!
The third solo album from award winning bluesman Al Lerman serves up an interesting mix well crafted songs, great grooves and tasty harp playing.
Al will be heading out west this month for a promotional tour in tandem with blues great TIM WILLIAMS, then back in Ontario for June. Toronto area folks will want to be at Hugh's Room in Toronto on Wednesday June 22, 8:30pm for the official CD launch.
Joining Al at Hugh's will be ALEC FRASER (bass), LANCE ANDERSON (piano), and AL CROSS (drums). A dream band!!! The disc will be available for purchase that night (be sure and get yours autographed!), and you will be able to order both physical copies and downloads here, from iTunes, Amazon and more on June 24.
NEW ALBUM STARTS PRODUCTION
Last month I started recording my new album "Slow Burn" at the E Room in Toronto and I'm elated to report the sessions went very well. Along with producer/bassist ALEC FRASER and session drummer supreme AL CROSS, we laid down eight songs live-off-the-floor the first day. The chemistry was definitely happening and the momentum continued on Day Two with my FATHEAD bandmates OMAR TUNNOCH and BUCKY BURGER on bass and drums respectively. Now that the basic vocal/guitar/rhythm section has been recorded, we can add a few overdubs (harp, piano perhaps, backing vocals etc) to sweeten things up, then it will be back to Alec's for mixing. The sessions were engineered by Grammy Award winning engineer PETER J. MOORE who just picked up yet another one for his work on the reissue of the BOB DYLAN & THE BAND's "Basement Tapes". How cool is that!? I'm in very good hands and hope to deliver my best record yet! The official release takes place June 22 at Hugh's Room, Toronto.
MAPLE BLUES AWARD NOMINATION
It's always nice to be recognized for what you do, and I'm grateful to be nominated for another Maple Blues Award for "Horn Player Of The Year". I am in some pretty stellar company here and proud to be among such esteemed musicians.
The awards take place January 18 at Koerner Hall in Toronto and tix are available thru the Toronto Blues Society. I will also be working in the house band that night, as I have done now for several years. I've earned several nominations in the past for both my harp and sax playing, but have yet to win. I figure even if I don't, at least I'm going home with a pay check!
A BUSY SUMMER AHEAD
Dates are filling in across Ontario for this spring and summer including the Orangeville Blues Fest on June 6, Violet's Venue in Barrie on June 25, The Lighthouse Blues Fest in Kincardine on July 11, Toronto's Palais Royale with Genius + Soul (an impressive Ray Charles tribute) July 16, Fathead plays the Calaboogie Fest on Aug. 15, and I do the Southside Shuffle in Port Credit on Sept. 12. There's lots of shows throughout Ontario with stops in Kitchener, Brantford, Newmarket, Belleville, Westport, Picton, Haliburton, Maynooth, Warkworth, Campbellford, Huntsville, Toronto, Minden and more. Check my show schedule and take in some live music!!!
MORE TOURING FOR 2015
It has been quite a busy month with a few concert dates, blues in the schools, Winterfolk dates, as well as a handful of bar gigs. Plans are being made for a late April tour in Alberta where I'll team up with the amazing Tim Williams for a series of shows. I first met Tim years ago during Fathead's first western tour, and recently had the opportunity to play a couple shows with him at Hornby Island, BC. We definitely speak the same musical language. I hope to be in the maritimes in August and lots of Ontario dates are filling in too. I always look forward to playing for you. Hope to see you in the crowd!
HEADING WEST WITH FATHEAD
I always look forward to going on the road with Fathead and we have a great tour of Alberta lined up. We start off at the Edmonton Blues Fest on Sunday Aug. 17 and share the stage with Mavis Staples, Carolyn Wonderland, Eddie Shaw and Wolfgang and many more. We'll play a few other dates in Edmonton and also hit Calgary and Red Deer.
NEW REGULAR GIG AT BUNKER'S HIDEAWAY
I am pleased to have a new semi-regular house gig so close to home. As my schedule allows, I will be playing Bunker's Hideaway ever other Thursday from 6:30pm until 10pm. Located on the outskirts of the village of Marmora, this pub offers casual dining in a friendly atmosphere. Reservations are recommended. Located at 239 Station Rd. Call 613-472-5513.
FATTER THAN EVER
Electro-Fi Records will be releasing FATHEAD's ninth album, "Fatter Than Ever" worldwide in June 2014. The disc, produced by award winning producer Alec Fraser contains fifteen superbly written songs from Al Lerman and bassist Omar Tunnoch. New to this recording is guitarist Papa John King who's playing will no doubt dazzle Fathead fans and win over many more. Singer John Mays is superb as always, and this time around he hands over the lead vocal duties on a couple of tunes to the afore mentioned songwriters, helping to create a multi-textured musical tapestry that offers the listener something new with every track. Several shades of blues abound here from the rollicking "Slippery Slope", the R&B ballad "Twenty Second Chances", the horn driven "Cost To Boogie" and the radio friendly "My Brother". After one listen you'll be convinced this band is sounding "Fatter Than Ever". Watch for a CD Release Party near you.
RING IN THE NEW YEAR WITH FATHEAD
GREAT REVIEWS AND CBC
Great reviews are are coming in from Canada, US and Europe for "Live @ The Acoustic Grill". The track "Charmalene" is being featured as Song Of The Day on CBC Radio and will air on Fri June 14. Al's Toronto CD Launch Party takes place the next night on June 15 at the Dominion On Queen, 9pm. An extensive interview was recently recorded for broadcast in England as well. This is a nice start indeed!
BRAND NEW DISC NOW AVAILABLE
I had a ball at the CD Launch Party in Picton on My 26! Please help me celebrate the release of "Live @ The Acoustic Grill" at these two official launch parties:
Thursday, June 6.... Rubb's BBQ, 18 Bridge St W, Campbellford. 8pm
Saturday June 15... Dominion On Queen, Toronto. 9pm
I hope see you there! Thanks...
NEW CD TO LAUNCH IN MAY AND JUNE
Last year I was elated when Steve Purtelle, owner of the Acoustic Grill in Picton, Ontario approached me with the idea of recording a live CD in his establishment. The trouble was, I had just released "Crowe River Blues" which included most of the material being featured in my current performances. Not wanting to let a good opportunity slip away, I quickly penned a few new tunes, revisited some songs I had previously written for Fathead and brushed up on some old blues faves.
The result is "Live At The Acoustic Grill", a modern, bare-boned disc that is as downhome and true to myself as I can possibly get: No over-dubs or guest musicians, just me, my guitar and rack harmonica. On hearing the final mixes, it put me in mind of those impressionable years when I was first exposed to the Riverboat Coffeehouse in Toronto's thriving Yorkville Village back in 1965. I was only eleven, but since they didn't serve alcohol, a kid like me could get in. In the coffeehouses, intimate and attentive crowds would sip mochas and expressos while listening to solo acoustic performers such as Joni Mitchell and Dave Van Ronk. Blues artists like Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Bukka White and John Hammond all appeared regularly. It was the blues artists that really moved me and inspired me to become a fulltime musician, which I’ve managed to do now for over forty years.
While I was interested in music from an even younger age, it was those early concerts that really ignited my fuse and propelled me down my chosen path. This Live At The Acoustic Grill recording manages to recapture that same coffeehouse spirit. Coincidently, I feature a few songs here that I first heard all those years ago. It seems the older I get, the more life seems to come around full circle. I am right back where I started, but with a much different perspective. It is a good place to be.
I will be holding CD Release Parties on the following dates with more to come. Mark your calendars!!!!!
Sunday, May 26....Acoustic Grill, Picton. 7pm
Thursday, June 6.....Rubb's BBQ, Campbellford. 8pm
Saturday, June 15...Dominion On Queen, Toronto, 9pm
GOVERNMENT PROCLAIMS FATHEAD "MUSIC GEM"
It was with surprise and delight when FATHEAD’s band members each received congratulatory certificates from the House Of Commons. Each one bore the name “FATHEAD” as well as our individual names and the instruments we play, and was signed by Craig Scott (NDP), Member of Parliament (Toronto-Danforth)
It proclaimed “On the occasion of your 20th anniversary as one of Canada’s music gems”, and went on to to say “As Andrew Galloway, President of Electro-Fi Records put it so well in the cover notes for your album Twenty Years Deeps, ‘Surviving 20 years as a blues band in today’s world, with no signs of slowing down, is a feat of soul sanctified brilliance.” It closes with, “Here’s to twenty years deeper!
We are deeply honored by this recognition!
What's New in 2013
Happy New Year everybody. It was nice to have a little down time over the holidays, but I always look forward to getting back to work. I love my job!
CBC's Galaxy Radio released their 100 most played albums of 2012 and I am happy to report my Crowe River Blues disc was #43. Not bad considering how many blues recordings get released every year.
This week I start rehearsals with the Maple Blues Band who will be backing everybody at the upcoming Maple Blues Awards at the magnificent Koerner Hall in Toronto on Jan 21.
FATHEAD's sold out show last month at the Aron Theater in Campbellford was a smash success! We recently released a "Best Of.." compilation CD called "Twenty Years Deep" and we look forward to getting into the studio to record a disc of new material very soon.
A reminder that I am at Rubb's BBQ in Campbellford EVERY THURSDAY @ 8pm. This is a slow time of year, so I urge you to get off the couch and take in some live music.
That's all for now. Stay tuned...
CROWE RIVER BLUES in Top 10 of 2012!!
The Blues Underground Network has named "Crowe River Blues" in their annual Top Ten list for "Best Debut Recording". The disc has also remained in the Roots Radio Top 100 for ten months!!!!
FOUR MORE MAPLE BLUES AWARD NOMS!
Al has been nominated again for a Maple Blues Award for "Horn Player Of The Year". As well, his Fathead bandmates have been nominated in their respective instrument categories: OMAR TUNNOCH (bass); TEDDY LEONARD (guitar); BUCKY BERGER (drums). The awards take place on Jan 21, 2013 in Toronto at Koerner Hall. Al, along with Teddy both play in the Maple Blues Band which will be backing all the performers on the night of the event.
FATHEAD TO RELEASE NEW CD
2012 marks FATHEAD's twentieth anniversary! To celebrate the occasion, Electro-Fi Records is releasing "Twenty Years Deep... The Very Best Of Fathead 1992-2012". The album boasts a total of nineteen tracks spanning all seven of the group's releases, and also includes songs from the two Little Mack Simmons discs that Al produced in which FATHEAD was used as his backing band. Several of the tracks were remastered, and whether you are a long time FATHEAD fan, or just being introduced to their music for the first time, this is an excellent disc to add to your collection.
The official CD Release Party will take place on Saturday October 6 in Toronto at the Monarch Pub/Delta Chelsea Hotel on Gerrard just west of Yonge at 4pm. If you know FATHEAD, you know this will be one hell of a party! Mark your calendars as you won't want to miss this show!
SOCAN PICKS UP ON CROWE RIVER BLUES
SOCAN is Canada's largest music rights/publishing organization, and they have just licensed my song "You're The One" for play on their web. The song will stream from June 15 until July 14 at www.socan.ca. Considering that they have thousands of songs and artists to choose from, I am thrilled they picked one of mine. Meanwhile, "Crowe River Blues" is getting more great reviews and picking up steam on US blues radio. Four months after it's release, it is still at #14 on the Roots Radio Charts!
CELEBRATING ONE YEAR AT RUBB'S BBQ!!
CROWE RIVER BLUES CLIMBING THE CHARTS!
So far the reviews for "Crowe River Blues" have been outstanding and the album is now garnering some radio airplay. The disc is listed as #1 in CIUT's Top Blues chart, and is currently at #4 at CHLY FM in Naniamo, BC. You can view these reviews on the BIO page.
CROWE RIVER BLUES A BIG HIT!!
I want to thank all who came to my CD Release Party for the launch of my very first solo disc "Crowe River Blues". Held at the Monarch Pub/Delta Chelsea in Toronto on Feb. 25th, the packed house provided me with a fantastic vibe as I performed songs from the album backed by a crack band that featured producer/bassist ALEC FRASER, BUCKY BERGER on drums and DENIS KELDIE on keys and squeezebox. Blues dj DDAVE 'Daddy Cool BOOTH" was on hand to introduce the band, and my FATHEAD brethren JOHN MAYS and OMAR TUNNOCH sat in for the second show, as did LINDSAY BEAVER on drums. I've received many congratuatory emails, phone calls and Facebook postings from so many of you. I hope to see you at my shows in the future. I am so grateful for your support.
The disc is already receiving radio airplay and is getting good reviews (see the REVIEWS page). I look forward to a busy year ahead with FATHEAD as well as with my solo shows. See you soon!
AL LERMAN CD RELEASE PARTY FEB. 25!!!
The disc features Al on lead vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, harmonica and saxophone performing thirteen songs that range from solo acoustic blues, incendiary harmonica workouts, heartfelt ballads, New Orleans inspired funk, to soul-shaking rock'n'roll. Al is the featured writer/composer on ten of these.
Al and the band will playing songs from the album plus a whole lot more! The Delta Chelsea is located on Gerrard St, just west of Yonge St.
FATHEAD Nominated for 4 Maple Blues Awards!!!
FATHEAD was recently nominated for four MAPLE BLUES AWARDS. John Mays was up for "Male Vocalist Of The Year" while I had the nod for "Horn Player Of The Year". Omar Tunnoch received a much deserved nom for "Bassist" and Bucky Berger was up for "Drummer Of The Year". The awards took place January 16 at Koerner Hall in Toronto and included a performance by FATHEAD and others. I was back again in the sax/harmonica chair playing with the Maple Blues Band while we backed BC's Bill Johnson, Rita Chiraelli,Shakura S'Aida and Treassa Levaseur. We didn't bring any trophies home this year, but it is always nice to be recognized with a nomination!