The Gary Kendall Band
"Feels Real Strong"
Downchild Blues Band bassist, Gary Kendall's new solo recording features some of Canada's best Blues musicians.
Reviews & Info
Gary Kendall feels the blues. Strongly. And it’s no wonder, given that he's been mining a rich vein of blues much of his life as a master bass player in one of the most successful, well-loved blues bands in music history. In many ways, Gary is the definition of classic blues in Canada.
In this, his second much-anticipated album, the strength of Gary’s command of traditional blues, slow-grindin’ rock ‘n roll, and even jump-up zydeco grooves, finds full expression. *Feels Real Strong* comes on strong with tracks that presents even more of Gary’s abundant musical talents, including fun, and sometimes emotional lyrics surrounded by wicked, full-blooded arrangements delivered by a powerful ensemble of musicians who will make you feel the blues strongly. These cats had lots of fun making this record and you’ll feel that, too.
*Feels Real Strong* invites you to embrace the strength of real blues music authentically and faithfully presented by a man who lives it, loves it and can’t shake it loose. It’s just too strong.
1. Real Good Night
2. When You Tell Me
3. That Thing
4. Feels Real Strong
6. Here To Stay
8. Rainy Night In Hogtown
9. Wall Of Love
10. Terrified Blues
11. Deep In My Heart
12. Streeta Groove
About The Gary Kendall Band
Gary Kendall: Bassist/Songwriter/Band Leader/Musical Director/Producer
Gary Kendall has been a working musician for over 40 years, developing parallel careers in the music business along that long road. A multiple Maple Blues Awards winner, long time and current member of The Downchild Blues Band he has also led The Kendall Wall Band prior to forming The Gary Kendall Band. His work as Musical Director of The Maple Blues Awards has also branched out into The Maple Blues Revue which tours Canada’s festivals and concert halls with a show that features this country’s blues elite. Along with producing his own recordings, Dusty & Pearl and the current one, Feels Real Strong, he has found time to work in that capacity on releases by Chris Murphy, Ray Edge, David Owen and The Maple Blues Revue. Guitarist/Radio Host, Danny Marks describes him as "Toronto’s Friend of The Blues".
Wayne ”Shakey” Dagenais: Shakey's been playing piano, organ, percussion and singing backup in GKB for the last few years after returning to Canada from Florida where he worked in Stan Street's band. His Professor Longhair influenced approach to keyboards has become integral to identifying The Gary Kendall Band sound.
Tyler Burgess: Tyler Burgess has the credentials of working with two Canadian music business legends, Stompin' Tom Connors and The Downchild Blues Band. His drumming, harmonica playing, singing and general good vibes add strength and authenticity to the GKB rhythm section.
Darran Poole: Also a member of two time Juno award winners, Fathead, Darran Poole's guitar playing has been described by Gary Kendall as “exactly what I want to hear”. Darran also adds his vocals and arranging skills to The Gary Kendall Band
Mike Fitzpatrick and Pete Schmidt, drums and guitar respectively are part of The Gary Kendall Band when subs are needed for Darran Poole and Tyler Burgess. Mike is Gary's rhythm section partner in Downchild and has been part of the studio band for both Dusty & Pearl and Feels Real Strong. Gary and Mike also host Blues Rhythm Section clinics in select music store across Canada. They've played together in a number of bands for over 20 years. Pete Schmidt has worked with Little Bobby & The Jump Starts, Mark ”Bird” Stafford, Kenny ”Blues Boss” Wayne, David Rotundo and numerous other blues artists. He also plays and records with Shane Scott in his own Blues Approved group. He played on Dusty & Pearl but was residing in Cuba during much of the recording period for Feels Real Strong and was unable to be at any of the sessions.
Gary Kendall's Musical History
It all started in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the northern end of Highway 61. Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan show in 1956 and Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Sunnyland Slim on the CBC documentary “The Blues” in 1962. Scanning the dial of an old radio, late at night in a basement bedroom, looking for exotic music from the south. This is how Gary Kendall's journey into the world of the Blues began. When other teenage boys his age went to weekend dances to meet girls, he stood off to the side watching the musicians on the bandstand. At age sixteen, six months after acquiring his first pawn shop electric guitar; he jumped at the chance to join a band called The Countdowns and play bass. None of the other young musicians wanted the bass players job, Gary just wanted to be in a band. After making $20 at a Saturday night dance playing rock n roll, his future occupation was secured. When the mid-sixties brought the British Invasion, it was The Rolling Stones that caught his ear and their music encouraged him to dig a little deeper and buy records by artists who were considered to be the first generation of the Blues. He joined a band called The Shameful Minority with long time friend, guitarist David Smyth. The record collection now included Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, Willie Dixon, B.B. King, Little Walter, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and many more.
In 1968, Gary Kendall moved to Toronto, the city he calls home. By 1971, with The James Hartley Band, he was playing Grossman's Tavern and other blues bars in the Spadina/College neighborhood where he lived. The Downchild Blues Band was at the top of the local scene and he quickly became friends with all the band members, brought together by a mutual respect for the music. In 1974, playing in a basement bar beneath the legendary Colonial Tavern with his own band, Dollars, a friendship was struck with Muddy Waters guitarist, Bob Margolin. Bob arranged for him to sit in with Muddy and the band.
The privilege to play with one of his heroes is something that has stayed with him to this very day. A few months later the basement bar brought in Sunnyland Slim, an artist first seen on television with Muddy Waters back in 1962. He was thrilled when his band was asked to back up Sunnyland and Bonnie Bombshell for a week.
In late 1979 the opportunity to join The Downchild Blues Band became a reality. The chance to play with old friends in one of his favorite bands seemed like a dream come true. He stayed until 1983, recording four albums, “We Deliver”, “Road Fever”, "Blood Run Hot” and “But, I’m On The Guest List”. From the mid-80`s to the early 90`s, Gary stayed off the road, holding down a house gig at Toronto’s, Black Swan Tavern with The Kendall Wall Blues Band. A group he formed with ex-Downchild drummer Cash Wall and harmonica ace Jeff Baker. Teddy Leonard, who later became part of the multi-talented, award-winning band Fathead, was one of KWBB’s guitarists. They released two independent, cassette only recordings, “The Kendall Wall Blues Band” and the live “One Take”. Their Saturday Afternoon Blues Matinee’s at the Swan became legendary.
In those days most touring acts came to Toronto for a week to play at Albert’s Hall and most of the artists came over to the Swan to do a guest spot on Saturday afternoon. That gave KWBB the opportunity to play with A. C. Reed, Pinetop Perkins, Eddy Clearwater, Tinsley Ellis, Little Willie Littlefield, Chubby Carrier, Bernard Allison, Eddie C. Campbell, Lefty Dizz, Eddie "Clean Head" Vinson, Eddie Shaw, Carey Bell, Fenton Robinson and many more. This also led to KWBB being used by venues like Albert’s Hall and The Bermuda Onion as a back up band for Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Snooky Pryor, Big Jay McNealey, Honkin' Joe Houston, Phil Guy and Cash McCall.
In 1995, Gary Kendall returned to his position as bassist with Canadian music institution, The Downchild Blues Band. Since then, they've released “Lucky 13”, “Come On In” and the newest, “Live at The Palais Royale”. When not on the road with Downchild, he fills his insatiable need to play the blues by working under his own name as The Gary Kendall Band.
The Gary Kendall Band features Darran Poole on guitar, Shakey Dagenais on piano/organ and Mike Fitzpatrick or Tyler Burgess on drums. Fitzpatrick is Downchild's current drummer, Burgess is alumni of both Downchild and Stompin' Tom Conners.
Gary Kendall received The Toronto Blues Society's “Blues With A Feeling Award” in 1993 and has nine nominations for The Maple Blues Award's “Bassist Of The Year”. He won the MBA “Bassist Of The Year” in 1997, 1999, 2000. 2002 and 2005. In 2002 his hometown of Thunder Bay honored him with the “Thunder Blues Award” and The Thunder Bay Blues Society's “Keeping The Blues Alive Award”.
In recent years Gary has worked on recordings by Chris Murphy (Blowin' The Horn and I’m A Happy Guy), Little Bobby & The Jumpstarts (Tickets In The Glove Box), Maria Aurigema (Take Me), Peter Schmidt & Shane Scott (Blues Approved), Brian Blain (Overqualified For The Blues) and Ray Edge (Soul Connection). Since 1999 he has held down the prestigious position as Musical Director/Band Leader at the annual Maple Blues Awards ceremony. In November 2004, Gary Kendall released his first long awaited solo recording “Dusty & Pearl” on his own 47 Records label, followed by "Feels Real Strong" in 2008. Whenever and wherever you find him, G.K. will be “layin’ down a solid groove and playin’ the blues”.