The debut solo album from Toronto guitarist Chris Antonik
is a diverse, soulful and tightly executed blend of classic guitar blues
and original, innovative, contemporary blues-rock. After thrilling
audiences in Toronto blues clubs as a sideman, Antonik has stepped out
on his own to deliver this self-produced collection of original material
and two classic blues covers.
The album “Chris Antonik” 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. The songs deal with
repairing relationships and giving back to those around you, as well as
classic blues themes delivered in modern vehicles. Using the
guitarist–as–front man approach and a variety of guest vocalists, the
record is a solid collection of soulful, strong and smart blues. Guest
performers include some of Chris’ friends from the Canadian blues scene,
including Mark Stafford, Suzie Vinnick and Richard Underhill.
The primary vocalist and keyboardist on the record is the gritty and
stirring Josh Williams of the jam band Fat Cats. Bassist Andrew Taylor
(The Blazers) and drummer Chris Chiarelli provide the tight and funky
From the jump, “More to Give” gets the record moving with a kinetic,
Hammond-soaked groove. The track is about learning from the mistakes of
the past, having more to offer to the ones you love, and is filled with
blues-rock guitar momentum that pays respect to early 70’s
The album swiftly moves into the stripped-down blues funk of “Roll with
It,” where Antonik channels his slide guitar heroes. A vintage dobro
provides a country-blues contrast to the deep pulse of an urban, almost
hip-hop-like drum beat - a contrast that mimics the song’s theme of just
going with what comes our way.
“The King of Infidelity,” a narrative about the consequences of
unfaithfulness, marries melodic song-craft with blues-slinger
inclinations. With its blues-pop sensibility, Infidelity pays homage to
late 80’s adult contemporary blues albums, such as Clapton’s
“Journeyman” and Stevie Ray
Vaughn’s “In Step,” as well as the recent “Continuum” from
John Mayer. Maple Blues award-winning
artist Suzie Vinnick provides rich and alluring back-up vocals to shadow
Josh Williams’ ardent lead vocals and retro Rhodes piano.
Veteran blues harmonica player and singer Mark “bird” Stafford then
jumps in on “If We Start from Here,” an upbeat, no-nonsense call for
reparation delivered as a double-shuffle blues number.
The record peaks with a cover of Jerry Ragovoy’s “She’s a Burglar,”
popularized in 1974 by guitarist Freddie
King. Antonik pays tribute to his hero, with King-inspired guitar
playing complemented by some of the most sought-after horn players in
the business: Juno-award winner Richard Underhill, Perry White (the
Shuffle Demons) and William Sperandei (Colin
A cover of Otis Rush’s minor key classic
“Double Trouble” features Chris making his lead-vocal debut (pointing to
future growth in this area for the evolving guitarist). Trouble also
features in-demand Toronto musician Geoff Daye (Sue
Foley, Danny Marks) on Hammond organ and piano.
The album was produced by Antonik, recorded at Audiolab Recording
Company in Toronto, and mixed and mastered at Silverbirch Productions in
In October 2010, Chris was nominated for a 2010 Maple Blues Award in the
“Best New Artist” category on the strength of the debut album. The Maple
Blues Awards recognize achievement in blues music in Canada.
Upon its release, the album “Chris Antonik” debuted on the Roots Music
Report international blues radio play charts at #35. It was also one of
two independent albums in the top 50. This charting was the result of
significant airplay in Canada, the US and worldwide on blues radio
stations/shows. In addition, for the week of September 24, 2010, the
album was ranked #4 for Canadian roots music radio play (Roots Music
In Canada, the album has been played on Holger Peterson's "Saturday
Night Blues" on CBC Radio 1, "Fresh Air" on CBC Radio 2, BLUZ FM with
Danny Marks, Galaxie TV/Satellite Radio, Sunday Morning Soul with Johnny
Max, “At the Crossroads” with Brant Zwicker, and DAWG 101.9 FM (Ottawa).
In addition to radio play in the US, the album “Chris Antonik” has also
received play in the following countries: France, Australia, New
Zealand, Austria, the UK, Poland, Croatia, the Netherlands, Belgium,
Spain, Greece, Macedonia and Denmark.
The record has received a number of highly positive reviews by prominent
reviewers in Canada, the US and the UK, including one in BLUES MATTERS,
the UK's top blues music magazine (see BLOG above for press quotes).
In the fall of 2010, Chris was interviewed by: Ottawa's CKCU FM, New
York City's "Sounds of Blue" radio show (with esteemed American blues
radio man Bob Putignano), and the "American Blues Blog" web site.
In September 2010, the International Song Writing Competition named the
song "Roll with It" as a co-winner of the "Myspace Crank Your Cred"
award for September 2010. This means the song is a semi-finalist for
best blues song in the annual competition in April 2011.
On stage, in addition to supporting the new album with the Chris Antonik
Band, Chris also plays in a stripped-down, old-school Chicago blues trio
with Mark “bird” Stafford and guitarist Pete Schmidt (Mel Brown, Jack
Dekeyzer). In 2010, Chris also shared the stage with Juno-winning
guitarist Darran Poole (Fathead, Gary Kendall) as part of a similar