Hot Toddy
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Hot Toddy

Band Folk Blues


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" Maritime greats invite you out to the country"

Eric Lewis rates his music reviews on a scale of one to five, with (*) equivalent to a poor rating, (**) fair, (***) good, (****) very good and (*****) excellent.

Hot Toddy / Isaac & Blewett

Live at the Black Box



An exercise in minimalism - a simple guitar lick here, a rolling, soothing bass line there, a driving harmonica over there. There is no flashy playing, but when it's all over you feel you've heard a disc made by experts of the craft.

This collection of tunes was a long time coming as the Hot Toddy trio and Isaac & Blewett duo have been making waves on the local front playing gigs together for a while now. This album was bound to happen eventually. It features the 5-piece on stage together with special guest Tania Breen's beautiful vocals adding some sparkle on "Chignecto".

The groups created a wonderful, jazzy disc, folky, countryish... well, you get the picture. It's hard to define.

"Hard Times" starts the album off in a beautiful way with it's sad theme, light plucking of the guitar and Thom Swift's broken-hearted vocals.

"Come On Down To The Country" might be the group's calling card, and if you aren't at least a little scared when the ominous cello breathes in on "Wrong Time Right Place," you're not paying attention.

You almost feel like the band is playing in your living room when you've got this on, when the album was actually recorded live over two nights at the Black Box Theatre in Fredericton. Each member of the group sings lead on at least once song and they each wrote a tune for the album.
- The Moncton Times and Transcript

"Live at the Blackbox"

Hot Toddy/ Isaac & Blewett ***Mark of Distinction***
Live at the Black Box
(Independent) <> / <>

The great thing about Canada is the wealth of musical talent that remains largely undiscovered by the rest of us. The joy is in the discovery and this release captures two of the East Coast¹s best acts, merging their distinctly different approaches on one release.

Hot Toddy is a unique amalgam of blues and roots music with a hint of jazz, their musicianship shining brightly on each new release. Isaac & Blewett command a more eclectic turf that marries blues and bluegrass to classical music with an emphasis on a somewhat serene, if not psychedelic, sound.

Both bands compose to haunting effect and, despite going down slightly different roads, their sound comes together ­ seductively so ­ on Live. Five players contribute two songs apiece but as the genres blur between acoustic blues and sleepy rural jams, the instruments ­ cello, banjo, archtop guitar, acoustic bass, dobro, harmonica ­ begin to create a force that makes perfect sense. Guest vocalist Tania Breen adds some sweetness to the mix but the combined band is at its best when they attack a song, back porch style.

³Help Me Make It Ta Spring² is acoustic picking at its best, the cello and bass washing over the proceedings like a winter storm. Jim Blewett¹s ³Look Around² sits somewhat uncomfortably above the full band mix but is instantly
endearing with repeated listens. ³Wrong Time Right Place/Moving Dues² begins with the dark underbelly exposed by Tim Isaac¹s cello before giving way to an intricate, uplifting melody driven by Tom Easley¹s warm bass-lines.

This is no kitchen party ­ more of a multi-coloured mood swing reflective of the sea of influences inspiring five very talented musicians. Get some.

Eric Thom - Exclaim

"Amazing Musical Magic"

Hot Toddy / Isaac & Blewett at The Livery
Amazing Musical Magic!

Special to the Signal Star by Carolyn Parks

Not since The Band roared out of upstate New York with its original sound have I heard such unique music! The collaboration of trio Hot Toddy and duo Isaac & Blewett creates a sound that, much like The Band, defies definition—and is something not soon forgotten! Needless to say, I had to buy their CD, “Live at The Black Box”.

Hot Toddy and Isaac & Blewett have been dubbed chamber blues, but the exceptional music I heard emanating from the stage was a blend of Cajun, folk, country, Maritime, and roots, as well as blues. The audience was inexorably drawn into this new musical genre and by the third number, was more than ready to hear whatever was next in the set.

Award winning New Brunswickers THOM SWIFT (acoustic guitar, dobro, vocals), JOEL LEBLANC (lead guitar, harmonica, vocals), TOM EASLEY (acoustic double bass, vocals), TIM ISAAC (cello, vocals) and JIM BLEWETT (rhythm guitar, banjo, vocals) are masterful songwriters as well as talented musicians and singers. The entire two-set show consisted of original material. They joked at one point that they weren’t “good enough” to do covers. “Ri-i-ight,” I thought to myself, “why perform someone else’s material when your own is so good?”

The last time I heard a cello used as effectively in contemporary music was by the late, great Harry Chapin’s back-up band at Massey Hall – but that cello did not have a wawa peddle attached to it. To hear HT/I&B use a guitar and cello as percussion instruments was amazing. And Tom Easley’s solid and innovative bass anchored every song. What sounded like a fuzz box on one of the guitars produced unusual string melodies, while Joel’s stick strumming of his eclectic and electric guitar has to be seen to be believed. The amazing piece put together for Tim’s cello, Joel’s harmonica and sonic special effects was a rare musical experience. Soulful dobro and banjo arrangements leant sharp contrast to such cheerful romps such as “60 Minute Man” and “Look Around”. The hauntingly beautiful “Love for my Lady” lingered in the rafters of The Livery even after it ended.

Not surprising that the culturally rich East Coast of Canada has once again produced stellar music makers. Nor is it surprising that Canadians—4/5 of The Band were Canadians—have again hit upon that rare quality and combination that makes for distinctive, beautiful songs and sound.

Great that you brought this multi-talented group to Goderich, Wes! Do hope there’s a return engagement. It’s not often that we get to hear such musical brilliance so close to home.

To learn more about Hot Toddy and Isaac & Blewett visit and
- Signal Star Goderich Ontario

"What The Critics Are Saying…"

Hot Toddy & Isaac and Blewett
Live at The Black Box

" …when it's all over you feel you've heard a disc made by experts of the craft."
Times & Transcript, Moncton

“The sound is spot on and perfectly captures the immediacy and subtleties of a concert…”
NOW Magazine, Toronto

“This is a true collaboration, with a strong desire to travel the back roads of possibilities.”
Telegraph Journal, Saint John

“Thom Swift’s “Hard Times” and Tom Easley’s “After The Fire” are two of
the best songs I’ve heard in ages.”
The Daily News, Halifax

“…it’s a multi-coloured mood swing reflective of the sea of influences that inspire five very talented musicians. Get some.”
Exclaim!, Toronto

“Not since The Band roared through upstate New York with its original sound have I heard such unique music.”
The Signal Star, Goderich

“This CD has something for every environment, particularly those who have a strong appreciation of exceedingly talented musicians.”
- Various

"Hot Toddy Return to Bluesy Roots"

Listening to Hot Toddy’s new CD, Trio, is like taking a road trip through the southern United States.

Imagine you’re driving along the Mississippi River, past magnolia trees and dogwood flowers. The sun is beating down on your face and you’re knocking back a bottle of cold lemonade to quench your thirst while a blues guitar and harmonica tune wails from the car radio speakers.

“The inspiration for the CD comes from our travels and the different musical experiences that we’ve had over the past few years. And this album definitely has elements of that southern blues style,” says Tom Easley, bass player for the award-winning Maritime group that includes Joel LeBlanc on electric guitar, harmonica and vocals and Thom Swift on acoustic guitar, dobro and vocals.

So it’s no surprise that one of their road trips took them to Memphis, Tenn.

“Memphis is one of the places where blues began. So being there definitely affected our music. We soaked in a lot of images, ate a lot of southern food, visited Sun Records, Elvis Presley’s mansion and listened to lots of blues music,” he says.

Filled with southern images and guitar rifts, Swift wrote Memphis Moment on the group’s return to Canada. The blues tune is one of the songs on the CD that will be released during their upcoming Maritime tour. The popular blues, jazz and folk band will perform at the Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside on April 23 at 8 p.m.

Another song inspired by southern warmth is In Morning Sun. Written by Easley it has a pleasing, easy listening melody.

“It came together very naturally. It’s made up of images that came to my head as I was thinking about the morning sun and why I would be hitching a ride home with them — things like coming back after an all-night gig and tucking my daughter in bed. Being out late at night and staying awake until the morning sun is something that musicians know very well,” he says.

Recorded at Echo Chamber Studio in Halifax, Trio takes the listener on a musical journey.

Whether it’s Swift’s haunting composition, Far From Home, about the women who disappeared in British Columbia, LeBlanc’s playful harmonica-driven Spaceman or Easley’s Black Hen and the Old Crow, it’s great travelling music.

“Black Hen and the Old Crow was inspired by a family trip to Cuba,” says Easley, 2008 ECMA winner for jazz recording of the year.

During a torrential downpour, he watched as a black hen ran for shelter.

“The image was so vivid that I decided to write a song about a hen and a crow and how they deal with a storm. In the process the crow breaks its wing and starts to drown, but he’s saved at the last minute. It’s a song about hope,” he says.

Easley is looking forward to continuing his musical journey on P.E.I.

“We have performed at the Harbourfront Theatre several times and it’s one of my favourite venues. We’re looking forward to meeting old friends and new.”

Fast facts

Get to know Tom Easley

n Current band: Hot Toddy.

n Favourite instrument: Bass.

n Favourite book: Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climate by Tom Robbins.

n Favourite performer: David Myles

n Favourite food: Thai.

n Favourite movies: Juno, No Country for Old Men.

n Five things to take on the road: Music, toothbrush, clothes, bass and camera

n Resides: Halifax, N.S.

n Part of the band: Hot Toddy was the winner of the 2007 Canadian Maples Blues Award for Acoustic Act of the Year and the 2005 East Coast Music Award for Blues Recording of the Year. It is known for unique musical stylings and innovative improvisation filled live performances. Hitting stores Tuesday, May 6, Trio (Festival Distribution) captures these trademark qualities.

n On the road:?The Summerside concert is the fourth stop in a tour that lasts until May 29.

n Website:

Sally Cole is a features writer with The Guardian. She may be reached at or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054 - The Guardian Charlottetown PEI


Hot Toddy

1998 Hot Toddy, Hot Toddy
2000 Hot Toddy, Shoe Factory
2001 Hot Toddy, Any Day
2003 Hot Toddy, The Salty Sessions Vol.1
2004 Hot Toddy, The Salty Sessions Vol.2
2005 Hot Toddy/ Isaac Blewett, Live at the Blackbox
2008 Hot Toddy, Trio



Hot Toddy Trio

Hot Toddy, Atlantic Canada’s premier acoustic folk/blues ensemble return to their roots with the release of their 7th independent album “TRIO”. Comprised of Dutch Mason award winner Joel LeBlanc on electric guitar, harmonica and vocals, 2008 ECMA and Maple Blues award winner, Thom Swift, acoustic guitar, dobro and vocals and 2008 ECMA award winner Tom Easley acoustic bass and vocals, the group offers another incredibly diverse musical journey with this release.

Known for their unique musical stylings and their innovative, improvisation filled live performances, Hot Toddy certainly capture these trademark qualities on this new Cd.

Each member contributes 4 tunes to the albums’ mix of musical treasures, which include 6 instrumentals. The titles included range from Easley’s haunting Black Hen and the Old Crow and Swift’s classic composition Far From Home to LeBlanc’s playful harmonica driven Spaceman. Great instrumental pieces include Leblanc’ s Legal, and Wonderfuel, the first a wonderful romp in 19/8 inspired by Ali Farka Toure and Juan Martin, and the second written as a duet for LeBlanc and world class bagpiper Andy Rogers. Easley plays tribute to Acoustic Bass great Charlie Haden and another long time musical friend with his piece Charlie and Swift brings the trio back to their blues roots with Memphis Moment inspired by time the group spent in Memphis in 2007.

Hot Toddy has always had the good fortune of working with producers who pull the best out of each of them. “TRIO” was recorded by Charles Austin at Echo Chamber Studio, Halifax. This album, like their previous releases, highlights the group’s musical prowess and their abilities to take themselves to new places. Swift, the consummate singer/ songwriter of the group shows his growing dexterity contributing three potent instrumentals to the mix. Bassist Easley reveals his new strengths as a songwriter with 3 gripping lyrical pieces and LeBlanc continues to push conventional boundaries and challenge both his bandmates and listeners alike with his exceptional contributions.

“TRIO” is classic Hot Toddy – original and innovative, comforting and challenging all at once. This release continues to show that something great can keep getting better and better.

Their Maritime Release Tour which starts April 18th in Antigonish at the Dragonfly Café will see them perform 15 dates throughout the region ending in Saint John on May 29th.