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MP3 Cameo Blues Band - All Play and No Work

This is the Rockin'' Roots based Blues band from the famed Hotel Isabella''s Cameo Lounge, and was the breeding ground for most of the Toronto Blues scene from 1978 ''till the present.

15 MP3 Songs
BLUES: Rockin'' Blues, BLUES: Guitar Blues

In the fall of 1978 Ray Harrison replaced Scott Cushnie as the keyboard player in a quartet, singer Hock Walsh was fronting at the Isabella Hotel (Toronto, Canada) in the Cameo Lounge. Ray had just crawled out of the wreckage of the hugely popular Canadian band Crowbar. The band was in disarray after a roadie had rolled the band truck into oblivion.

The original band consisted of Omar Tunnock (Fathead) bass, and Billy Bryans (Parachute Club) drums and Hock Walsh (Downchild Blues Band): vocalist. Hock moved on and was replaced by Fraser Finlayson (Cueball). Fraser lasted a few months and was followed by Tony Flaim (Downchild and the Dukes). Flaim then quit and went back on the road with Downchild and Chuck Jackson (currently with Downchild) was hired to front the band. By then the line-up of the band was: John Bride (guitar), Omar Tunnock (bass), Paul Armstrong (drums), Wayne Mills (tenor sax) and Ray Harrison on Hammond B3 and piano.
Anyone who can attest to seeing this band holding musical court in the cramped smokey confines of the Cameo Lounge at the ‘Izzy’ truly really got their money’s worth. Besides hearing and seeing the band, which in my opinion was as good as it got, you might have also seen and heard the likes of Georgie Fame, Spencer Davis, Huey Lewis, Sting, Dan Ackroyd and Kelly Jay, to name a few.

Heady times these, and not easily forgotten. As the band moved around to other locals, different singers came and went with Malcolm Tomlinson being the first to replace Chuck. This was in the early eighties. " During the 80’s and 90’s we were known as the ‘cameo appearance’ band." Says Ray. Other singers included Walter Zwol (Brutus) and myself John Dickie (Mondo Combo, Prima Donnas). With the addition of Michael Sloski (Bruce Cockburn) and Tom Griffiths (Colin Linden) from this era we have the nucleus of the great rhythm section heard here. " Everyone would bring something different to the table so the audience never quite knew what to expect, just that it was going to be good." Says Ray.

And that''s the nut, it was good. The band, always anchored by Ray''s grumpy left hand on piano and his solo dexterity combined with John Bride''s absolutely stunning ability to play the guitar made this band a rootsy masterpiece. Blues, R&B or Rock ''n Roll, " It don''t get no bedder than ''dis Ray" (anon.).

By John Dickie from conversation with Ray Harrison.

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