23 May 2016
Written by David McCabe 
Photo by Pierre Ménard

David's Discoveries, Vol. 3

Chris Antonik

Chris Antonik, a 41 year old Toronto resident, was playing locally, doing covers, when he started his songwriting career in 2010, and doors started to open up for him from that point on.
He self-produced his first album, a collection of eight original songs with two classic blues covers. The eponymous album is a portrait of a maturing blues guitarist and songwriter who fully grasps the importance of song over solo - while still leaving plenty for guitar fans to enjoy.
This album lead to a nomination for a Maple Blues Award as the “Best New Artist” in 2011.
When asked to describe his music, and his influences, Chris told me:
“I would describe it as “song-focused,” original blues/blues-rock. By that I mean songwriting is most important. Guitar playing, while it’s my thing, needs to serve the song. I don’t feel the need to have a guitar solo on everything. The music is blues with elements of rock, soul, Americana….I try and push the genre, innovate and bend the rules.
As a guitar player, some of my biggest influences are Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Duane Allman and the Three Kings - Albert, BB and Freddie.”
In 2013, Chris released his second album, Better For You, inviting some other musicians to help out. This time around they included two-time Grammy award-winner Mike Mattison (The Derek Trucks Band, The Tedeschi-Trucks Band), American Blues Music award-nominee Shakura S’Aida, Juno award-winners Steve Marriner (MonkeyJunk) and Julian Fauth, as well as Canadian music luminaries Suzie Vinnick and Richard Underhill.
The album was hailed by critics as “a masterpiece,” “the best Canadian blues-rock album of 2013,” and “the sound of someone taking the blues to a new place.” The album spent three weeks at #1 on DAWG FM, attained significant airplay across Canada, the US and Europe, including on Sirius XM Bluesville, and was nominated for Best Blues Album by the German Record Critics’ Association. Oregon’s Cascade Blues Association called it “one of the finest releases from the Great White North in many a year.”
In October 2014, I was interested in going to an event at Sutton En Blues, as the next target to take of my bucket list.
Randy Renaud played some of Chris’s music on his Black Cat Alley show the Sunday before Chris was going to be performing at Sutton. I was impressed enough to call for reservations right away, to find out we got the last room and last table for the dinner and show the next Saturday.
The room and meal were fantastic. Turns out the table they gave us was directly in front of Guenther Kapelle, Chris’s bass player, who also plays with Wild T and the Spirit. We were so close Guenther, Chris and I were having little conversations about music in between songs. When they took their break, I met “Shakey” Wayne Dagenais , the keyboard player that was with them that night, super guy and great musician.
All in all, with the excellent meal and room, the show itself, and meeting and being able to talk to these guys, this was one of the best musical events of the year for me.

I saw them again, when Chris played with the same band mates at the Canadian Blues Summit in Toronto in 2015. They did one of the showcases, and put on a great show. And they remembered me. :)

Later in 2015, Chris was invited to play the Buddy Guy's Legends Blues Festival, and returned there this year as part of one of many US tours he has done, which also included him playing Biscuits & Blues in San Francisco. 
He has also toured across Canada, and will be doing his first UK tour this coming summer.
Chris has now started to work on a third album, one he has a special vision for:
“I have always envisioned my first three albums as a trilogy, and this third record will bring everything full circle, both musically and thematically.”
Once again, Chris has a great team of musicians, starting with Guenther Kapelle on bass, Chuck Keeping (Big Wreck) on drums, Jesse O'Brien (Colin James) on piano and organ, and Richard Underhill as horn arranger. There may even be a guest or two, if he sticks to the same form as his first two albums.
This time fans can help out, and get perks in return, by making contributions themselves.
“As an independent artist, your contribution will make all the difference. The music industry has changed dramatically and record deals (especially in blues/blues-rock) are hard to come by. Government grant funding is available but never a sure thing (and, yes I have applied). For independent artists like myself, fans are critical. Together we can create some incredible music and push the genre forward into the 21st century.”
All of the info about this project can be found here:
Some of the perks you can get with a contribution:
$15 gets you a pre-ordered digital copy
$25 gets you a pre-ordered autographed CD
$40 gets you autographed copies of all 3 CDs
$50 gets your name in the “thanx” of the liner notes, plus a copy of the CD
Plus many different offers of lessons and CDs, personally or via Skype, all the way to $1000 for a private house concert (a duet).
Chris Antonik music is available for streaming on Sound Cloud.
 You can find him on his Official FaceBook page or his well done website.
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