Last updated January 2012
ALL UPDATED CONCERT LISTINGS CAN BE VIEWED AT: http://www.carlosdeljunco.com/where.html
"MONGREL MASH" CD released 2011
2010 JUNO NOMINATION for STEADY MOVIN' cd
1997 - 2012 Harmonica Player of the Year - EIGHT times out of the Canadian Maple Blues Award's SIXTEEN year history
2005 "Best Blues" Award- NOW Magazine, Toronto, ON
1998 JUNO NOMINATION for BIG BOY cd
1996 Blues Musician of the Year Award: Jazz Report Magazine
1993 Hohner World Harmonica Championship – Trossingen, Germany Two Gold Medals in both diatonic blues and diatonic jazz
It's probably a good thing Carlos wasn't there when the harmonica appeared in North America in the 1860s. Neil Young and Bob Dylan can probably roll with it when it he says they are very mediocre harmonica players. Aspiring harp players Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid might have overreacted and pulled out their pistols...
Carlos is one of those players whose music is so advanced that when it comes to awards, it's either retire the category or rephrase the question to "Best Harmonica Player Not Named Carlos". This includes two Gold Medals from the Hohner World Harmonica Championship in Trossingen, Germany, as well as multiple national awards in Canada.
To say he plays the harmonica is like saying "Jimi Hendrix plays guitar". He blows the blues harp through a prism -- suddenly it seems he's holding every color in the musical rainbow right there in his hands.
Simultaneously sophisticated and raw, his playing blurs the boundaries between blues and jazz (hence the name for his band “The Blues Mongrels”). The emphasis is on blues, but Carlos and his band are not afraid to merrily traipse off in other directions delivering a seamless fusion of New Orleans second line grooves, swing, Latin, hip-hop or ska melodies, to swampy roots rock.
Born in Havana, Cuba, del Junco (loosely translated "of the reeds") immigrated with his family at the age of one. He bent his first note on a harmonica when he was fourteen, making his debut with his high school math teacher at a student talent night. In his early 20's del Junco was immersed in a visual arts career; he graduated with honours from a four year program, majoring in sculpture at the Ontario College of Art. Sculpture has definitely had an influence on his outlook on music: "Music is just a different way of creating textures and shapes."
Playing a ten hole diatonic harmonica, Carlos has developed the unique ability to play chromatically by using a recently developed "overblow" technique taught to him by jazz virtuoso Howard Levy. Overall, this approach to the diatonic harmonica, although much more difficult to achieve, is in many ways more expressive and communicative than the mechanized tone produced by the chromatic harmonica . Carlos is one of the few pioneers of this overblow method, bringing musical credibility to what has still been considered by many in the music industry - a fringe folk instrument.
He has recorded with Bruce Cockburn, Kim Mitchell, Oliver Schroer, Zappacosta, and has also worked with Dutch Mason, Hoc Walsh (Downchild Blues Band) and Holly Cole.
...del Junco continues to produce an eclectic palette of music on Mongrel Mash, his 6th recording in a band setting on the BIG REED RECORD label. It features an energetic set with 3 straight up blues numbers and his usual hybrids of fun and quirky roots influenced instrumentals. This is an "almost live" CD that lets the band stretch out as they would in front of a live audience. Some jaw dropping harmonica work from Carlos. Remarkable guitar work by Kevin Breit, one of the most sought-after session players in Canada and now in the U.S. thanks in large part to his work with Norah Jones and Cassandra Wilson, adds beautiful textures to the 9 track collection.
Carlos has toured Canada regularly since 1996 and tours often in Europe and the United States. He has played all the major jazz, blues, and folk festivals across Canada.
Carlos del Junco: harmonica and vocals
Henry Heillig: bass
Eric St. Laurent: guitars
Jordan John: drums
1993 “BLUES” collaborative cd with the late Bill Kinnear
1995 “Big Road Blues” collaborative cd with the late Thom Roberts
1995 “Just Your Fool” live full band CD (cuts from this and following cds still receive radio airplay)
1998 “BIG BOY” full band CD
2001 “Up And At ‘Em” full band CD
2005 “Blues Mongrel” full band CD
2008 “Steady Movin’” full band CD
2011 "Mongrel Mash" full band CD
MONGREL MASH (CD) Review - June 7, 2011
[+ Show ]
It's not likely that you'll ever hear the harmonica played so well and in so many different ways tha...It's not likely that you'll ever hear the harmonica played so well and in so many different ways than at the hands of Cuban-born Torontonian Carlos del Junco. But what makes his album an especial treat is the sheer let's-do-it positive energy that radiates from the eclectic collection of nine tracks. Mongrel Mash refers to the crazy mix of styles, ranging from deep, heavy-duty blues-rock (“Mojo”) to Herb Alpert's slightly cheesy “Slick,” and jivin' “Lil' Laptop” to sweet, rootsy ballad “The Field,” which arrives via languid dobro set-up. Del Junco may be the headliner, but the songs and arrangements shine the light on an excellent band of equals who all get some time in the sonic spotlight. There is something here to put a smile on anyone's face — and it only gets better with each listen. My favourite: Del Junco's own “My Favourite Uncle,” a gently hip-swinging sweep down Louisiana way.
Carlos del Junco steals the show opening for Dr. John on closing night of Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival
[+ Show ]
Title: Explosive End To 10 Day Blast By Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist "photo caption: La...Title: Explosive End To 10 Day Blast
By Greg Quill, Entertainment Columnist
"photo caption: Last main stage performance of the Toronto Downtown Jazz festival featured an opening act by harmonica player Carlos del Junco that was so well received it took pianist and vocalist Dr. John a while to win them over to his funky and loose New Orlean style."...
..."Typical of this shift was the pairing Dr. John and his excellent band — drummer Herman Ernest III, bassist David Barard and guitarist John Fohl — with Toronto harmonica dog Carlos Del Junco and an astonishingly versatile trio of bassist Henry Heilig, drummer Jordan John and guitarist Shawn Kellerman.
While Rebennack’s public relations bumf lumps him in with New Orleans jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong, the gifted pianist owes more to bayou mythology, swamp boogie and R&B than to traditional jazz and pure improvisation.
Dr. John’s powerful grooves, acidic chuckle and voodoo mystique — he performed last night with what appeared to me a monkey’s skull on his piano — are the stuff of pure pop invention, and when they’re extended beyond their natural reach, as they were towards the end of last night’s set, the music moves even farther away from jazz and into psychedelic impressionism.
That was a perfect fit with Cuban-born Del Junco’s barn- storming, genre-defying performance, which brought the packed house to its feet and seemed destined for an encore when the house lights were raised.
An absolutely breathtaking literally, given the immense capacity of his lungs — master of perhaps the most primitive instrument in the musical cup- board, the straight harp, De Junco and his very muscular band ripped through boundaries that usually separate jazz, hard rock, blues, ska, and folk, uttering sounds for which the harmonica was never intended, and vesting the simple reed instrument with a dignity it hasn’t possessed since Dutch jazz harpist Toots Thielemans brought it to serious music concert halls in the 1960s.
No wonder Rebennack seemed a little ticked off that after an hour of laying down some of the most formidable dance music in the R&B canon, the crowd was still sitting. They were clearly relaxing in the grooves after Del Junco’s stunning assault. “I came all the way from New Orleans, and y’all are still on your ass. Why ain’t you dancin’ yet?”
They didn’t need to be asked a second time."
Carlos opening for Ray Charles at the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts 2003 - Toronto Jazz Festival
[+ Show ]
"Hitting the eclectic notes that Charles missed was harmonica virtuoso Carlos del Junco and his thr... "Hitting the eclectic notes that Charles missed was harmonica virtuoso Carlos del Junco and his three-piece who opened the show. Drawing on elements of blues, jazz and Latin music, del Junco mixed reverence with mischievous innovation on lively numbers such as 'Jitterbug Waltz' from Fats Waller and Jackie Benston's 'Rocket 88.'" - Brad Wheeler
Carlos opening for Ray Charles at the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts 2003 - Toronto Jazz Festival review #2
[+ Show ]
"Opening for the show was local harmonica genius Carlos del Junco.Backed by a standard guitarist, dr..."Opening for the show was local harmonica genius Carlos del Junco.Backed by a standard guitarist, drummer and bass player, the set began with an extraordinary long solo which received a great response. The 'Jitterbug Waltz' and his own song, 'Heddon Tadpolly Spook,' were other highlights. Perhaps the oddest moment of the night happened during del Junco's closing number, 'Rocket 88.' With the house lights slowly rising, the musician continued performing until he could see basically everyone in the venue. What he also saw though was a standing ovation from half of the audience."
- Jason MacNeil
"BLUES MONGREL" CD review
[+ Show ]
Harmonica master Carlos del Junco reminds people what they've been missing out˜assuming they're not ...Harmonica master Carlos del Junco reminds people what they've been missing out˜assuming they're not already familiar with him. Blues Mongrel, his fifth release, transcends categorization and the surprises come fast and furious. Such as a total overhaul of Blues With A Feeling, as Carlos and guitarist Kevin Breit, twist it into a hybrid--half Little Walter-ish desolation and half Son Seals-like angst and fury--all surrounded by an arrangement owing as much to avant-garde Jazz as to Blues. Two imaginations like these ensure that this musical envelope will be pushed.
There‚s a kaleidoscopic of musical ideas and shapes: much like Bela Fleck, Carlos del Junco effortlessly blends numerous genres (Blues, Latin, Bluegrass, Jazz, Bebop, Country, Classical, R&B) into a coherent whole. For instance, a tantalizing version of the Man From Flint theme will get you leaping with joy. No Particular Place is lush, lively, and brimming with humor. Other instrumental treats include Let's Mambo, emblematic of the sensuous Latin rhythms that ripple so effortlessly throughout Blues Mongrel. Every one of these 12 glorious tracks is deserving of lavish praise, but Plain Old (Down Home) Blues blazes a special trail by stretching the Blues to its outer edge. Sonny Boy Williamson's Nine Below Zero is given an absolutely spine-tingling updating by dint of the dazzling virtuosity of Mr. del Junco. An extraordinary talent like Carlos del Junco (or Kevin Breit for that matter) would be a household name in most other countries. Blues Mongrel by Carlos del Junco is a triumph, and it merits my highest recommendation.
The typical set list is usually 2 x 45 minute sets for theatre shows or 2 x 1 hour sets for clubs
A mixture of originals and obscure blues covers and with an equal blend of bluesy/jazzy roots instrumentals and an eclectic blues vocal repertoire
There are no upcoming dates at this time.