The Friday Night Blues Jam is hosted by the team of singer Robin Hutchison, and guitar player, Mike Sedgewick. The origins of the jam can be traced back to 2016 at a small bar in Toronto’s Beaches area called The Peppery Cat. Within’ a few months, they began to develop a unique brand of high level musicianship, fostered an environment of friendly and welcoming community, and built a reputation as one of the best places in the East End to catch authentic blues on a Friday night. It was not uncommon during that time to catch such guitar greats as Tony Springer and Frank Cosentino stop by and tear it up for a few songs. Gradually, in a grass roots approach, they built a solid following from local music fans. Consistently delivering quality music in a casual and impromptu way.
It was in 2017 that the Peppery Cat closed operations, and the jam was moved across Queen St. East to The Salty Dog. Both venues were owned by the same family so it was an easy and logical transition. Although slightly smaller in size, the Salty Dog had a more intimate and comfortable vibe. When it was filled with music fans, the energy for both performer and audience was unparalleled. It was during this time, up until it also closed in February 2020 (unrelated to covid), that the Friday Night Blues Jam really became what it is known for today. Many of the top players from Southern Ontario regularity would occupy the featured guest spot. It was not uncommon to have Juno winners, Maples Blues winners, and up and coming stars to be featured as guest, in the house band, or just drop by to play a few or mingle with the community. Musicians such as Tom Bona, Jonny Wong, Jesse Whiteley, Joshua Miller, Ian Andrews, Julian Fauth, Steve Grisbrook, Frank Cosentino, Rob Quail, Jerome Tucker, Tony Springer, Sugar Brown, Conor Gains, George Koller, Russ Boswell, Little Magic Sam, Nick Tabarias, Paige Armstrong, Tim Gittens, Tracey Gallant, John Fraser Findlay, Dan MacKinnon, Mike Nagoda, Sons of Rhythm, Meghan Parnell, Dave Barnes, Greg Godovitz, and Sandra Bouza, to name a few. Many friendships and professional relationships were forged during this time. International visitors would show up and share their stories of how they heard about the scene that was happening.
By February of 2020, those Friday nights were standing room only, and it was difficult to move in the confines of the venue. Serendipitously, the venue had been outgrown when the Salty Dog closed, and the jam needed a new home. The perfect opportunity was at the Black Swan Tavern (154 Danforth Ave). The Black Swan Tavern was bigger, had a more central location, and most importantly has a storied history of having some of the greatest blues musicians in the world play there during the days of the Kendall-Wall Band from the 80’s and 90’s. It was clear after the inaugural Black Swan event that they had indeed found their new home. A place to grow, evolve, and continue to fill the hearts of dedicated blues fans with some of the best music and energy that Toronto has to offer.
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