Powder Blues

Powder Blues. Vancouver blues-rock septet, formed in 1978 by Tom Lavin (vocals, guitar), with Jack Lavin (bass guitar), Willie MacCalder (piano), and others.

Powder Blues

Powder Blues. Vancouver blues-rock septet, formed in 1978 by Tom Lavin (vocals, guitar), with Jack Lavin (bass guitar), Willie MacCalder (piano), and others. Initially active in local clubs (eg The Spinning Wheel), it began touring nationally in 1980 on the popularity of its first LP, Uncut (1979, Blue Wave 11791), which sold more than 200,000 copies in Canada and included the modest hit 'Doin' It Right'.

Powder Blues recorded three more LPs 1981-3: Thirsty Ears (Liberty LT-1105), whose title song was popular in 1981, Party Line (Liberty LT-51136) and Red Hot/True Blue (2-RCA KXL2-0518). Composite personnel (on record) included the founders as well as Mark Hasselbach (trumpet, trombone), Gordie Bertram, Wayne Kozak, Bill Runge, and David Woodward (saxophones), Don Cummings (bass, replacing Jack Lavin in 1982) and Duris Maxwell (drums).

Described by Tom Harrison as 'a powerful, rocking band that is 50 per cent rhythm and 50 per cent show business' (Vancouver Province, 15 Jul 1980), Powder Blues also made appearances during the early 1980s in the USA and in 1983 at the North Sea (Holland) and Montreux (Switzerland) jazz festivals. The Montreux performance was released on record as Live at Montreux (Blue Wave BWR-007). Powder Blues continued to tour Canada through the 1980s and in 1990 issued the compilation First Decade/Greatest Hits (WEA CD-71359). A tour followed that year in the Soviet Union. The group received the 1981 Juno Award as most promising band and the 1986 (US) W.C. Handy Award as best foreign blues band.

Tom Lavin (b Chicago 2 Feb 1950) has also produced recordings by Jim Byrne, Amos Garrett, Susan Jacks, Lowell Fulson, and others at his own Blue Wave studios in Vancouver, and has prepared theme and incidental music for film and TV.


Further Reading

  • Palmer, Vaughan. 'Blues with a happy ending,' Vancouver Sun, 19 Jan 1980