“Deep, contemporary Chicago blues…razor-sharp guitar and compelling, forceful singing” –The Chicago Tribune
“One of Chicago’s new greats” –The Chicago Sun-Times
photo by Chris Monaghan
Electrifying blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Toronzo Cannon, performing songs from his Alligator Records debut,THE CHICAGO WAY, will be touring the United Kingdom between Thursday, January 19 and Saturday, January 21, 2017. Cannon has become one of Chicago’s most recognised and most popular bluesmen through the sheer force of his music, his songs, and his live charisma. MOJO magazine declared THE CHICAGO WAY the #1 Best Blues Album Of 2016. Cannon’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. Cannon, along with Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, won the 2016 Living Blues Award for Producer Of The Year – New Recording for THE CHICAGO WAY.
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.
Toronzo Cannon was interviewed in Issue 78 of Blues Matters Magazine!
To read the full interview please order your copy here – Issue #78
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. The Chicago Tribune lauded his performance, saying, “Festival headliner Toronzo Cannon’s extroverted, compelling guitar style and forceful singing won over a new audience.”
Cannon was born in Chicago on February 14, 1968, and grew up in the shadows of Theresa’s Lounge, one of the city’s most famous South Side blues clubs (and a place where Iglauer was a regular patron). As a child, Cannon would stand on the sidewalk outside the door, soaking up the live blues pouring out while trying to sneak a glance inside at larger-than-life bluesmen like Junior Wells or Buddy Guy. He also heard plenty of blues growing up in his grandfather’s home, and listened to soul, R&B and contemporary rock on the radio.
Cannon bought his first guitar at age 22, and his natural talent enabled him to quickly master the instrument. Although his first focus was reggae, he found himself increasingly drawn to the blues. He absorbed sounds, styles and licks from Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Hound Dog Taylor, B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Al Green, Jimi Hendrix, J.B. Hutto, Lil’ Ed and others. Although influenced by many, Cannon’s biting, singing guitar sound is all his own. As a songwriter, he writes about shared experiences with a keen eye for detail. “Blues is truth-telling music,” he says, “and I want my audience to relate to my stories.” As a singer, his impassioned vocals add muscle and personality to his already potent songs.
From 1996 through 2002, Cannon played as a sideman for Tommy McCracken, Wayne Baker Brooks, L.V. Banks and Joanna Connor. But he was determined to prove himself. In 2001, while continuing to work as a hired-gun guitarist, he formed his own band, The Cannonball Express. By 2003, he was working exclusively as a band leader. Cannon’s first three albums – 2007’s My Woman (self-released), 2011’s Leaving Mood (Delmark) and 2013’s John The Conqueror Root(Delmark) – document his rise from promising up-and-comer to star-in-the-making.
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.”
Please contact Bill Giardini at firstname.lastname@example.org for interviews, photos or additional biographical information.