Raoul and The Big Time
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Raoul and The Big Time

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 1998 | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1998
Band Blues Jazz


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"*5 Stars!"

Raoul And The Big Time's newest release "Hollywood BLVD" marks the second Album I have received from this super talented band, of which their previous release I wrote, "Little Walter was certainly a king when it came to the Harmonica and Raoul And The Big Time, plus all the other participants, have done nothing less than give him the royal treatment on "Blue Midnight - A Tribute To Little Walter", by offering us a unique opportunity to feel and experience the greatness that was, Little Walter. "Blue Midnight - A Tribute To Little Walter" is one of the best Tribute Albums around, filled not only with a broad spectrum of songs from his famed career, but also an Tribute Album that would of made Little Walter, not only proud, but also honored".

Now with the release of "Hollywood BLVD", Raoul And The Big Time bring us another great Album, containing eight Originals all written by Raoul and four very fine Covers which included Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Someday", Allan Toussaint's "Get Out Of My Life Woman", P. Staples "Why I Am Treated So Bad", and a Blues Traditional "In The Shadow Of The Pine".

"Hollywood BLVD" starts the ball rolling with "Nothin' Gonna Take Me Down" and right off the bat we are treated not only to the great Harmonica work of Raoul, but also the great Guitar work of Special Guest Musician Rick Holmstrom, one of believe it or not, a dozen Special Guests playing on this album. In fact the first Track features Raoul with only Special Guests, which further included Jeff Turmes (Electric Bass), Stephen Hodges (Drums), and Donny Gerrard (Backing Vocals). When you first start listening to "Nothin' Gonna Take Me Down", you get a really good feeling for the kind of sound that uniquely envelopes this album and it certainly is a 50's Chess Records feel. This unique sound and feel comes no doubt from that fact that "Hollywood BLVD" was "recorded on two inch tape, live off the floor with minimal overdubs".

"Hollywood BLVD" features four instrumentals, of which Track 2, the title Track is the first. Harmonica is certainly the order of the day on this slightly Latin Infused number. Other great performances on this Track included the mighty fine Piano work courtesy of Fred Kaplan, whom then offers up the stage to Junior Watson on Guitar, before Raoul once again lets his Harp work put the finishing touches on this fine Track.

Other interesting and unique Instrumentals were Track 7 "Left Coast Fred" a swinging number with the same lineup as "Hollywood BLVD", which additionally included Larry Taylor doing a great job on Upright Bass and Richard Innes keeping it all together on Drums. "Left Coast Fred" really came across with a nice Swinging Jazzy Room feel. Track 5 "Amphetamine", was a full on tour de force between Raoul on Harp and Rick Holmstrom Guitar. Track 11 "Curtis Charm", the last of the four Instrumentals, was a two Harp affair with Raoul and Curtis Salgado showing us their masterful work on Harmonica.

One of my favorite Tracks was Track 6 "Get Out Of My Life Woman" the song written by Allan Toussaint. No Harp on this beauty, but that is all made up for with the great Vocals of Raoul, brilliantly backed up with nice Guitar work from both Rusty Zinn and Darren Gallen. A few other great performancers on this Track were Pat Carey and Alison Young on Saxophones, Jake Wilkinson on Trumpet, and Tyler Yarema on Piano. Certainly was hard to get past this Track without hitting the replay button.

Another big favorite on mine was the closing Track, the Traditional "In The Shadow Of The Pine", a song which was completely different from the rest of the album, done in a wonderful softly sung manner accompanied by Johnny Sansone on Accordion, Raoul doing Vocals and on Acoustic Guitar, Terry Wilkins on Upright Bass, and John Showman on Violin. This song was an absolutely wonderful closer to an absolutely wonderful album.

Releases such as "Hollywood BLVD" simply do not come around that often. They are a rare breed indeed, bringing us music in styles that are to often neglected with all the Modern Blues floating around. To be quite honest this little gem from Raoul And The Big Time and all the extraordinary talent involved is no less than an Essential Blues Masterpiece, one for which if you only had money to buy one album this year, "Hollywood BLVD" should really be one of your top choices.


Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)

Listen To Samples Here... http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/raoulandthebigtime3

Additional Artist Info... http://www.raoulandthebigtime.com/ - Blues Under Ground Network

"Interview with Raoul Bhaneja"

Raoul and the Big Time
Hollywood Blvd

by Eric Petersen

May 6, 2014: If someone was to ask me where the hottest blues scene in the world is right now, I wouldn’t say Memphis or New Orleans or any of the places you might think. Without a second of hesitation I would say that Toronto has the best blues community and it’s because of bands like Raoul and the Big Time whose new album Hollywood Blvd. is an instant classic.

There are many great artists of all types in Toronto, and the music scene there has connections globally, but for the past few years one after another truly great blues albums have been migrating south of the border, and thirsty ears here in the US - and the whole world - have been eagerly devouring them. Hollywood Blvd. is just the latest in a string of fantastic releases eminating from there and it’s an album that certainly deserves a place on your shelf... or on the shelf of your iPod.

Though there are great artists in Toronto and great people like Sarah French working to get them exposure, one of the reasons that this group of artists is not on the radar as much as they should be (at least here in the lower 48) has a lot to do with immigration policies that have made it difficult for them to perform here. So for the past few years, and for the forseeable future, the Toronto scene may stay contained - at least geographically. Without being able to tour and get in front of audiences, it’s hard for an act to get a critical density of fans, so performers that *should* be household names have not been able to - literally - cross over economically, or the border. But perhaps this isolation has bred intensity, and maybe the separation will create mystique and interest.

Embarked upon as a tribute to Chess-era and West Coast Jump Harmonica blues, Raoul Bhaneja recorded the entire album live on 2 inch tape in sessions at The Rogue Studios in Toronto, and at Clear Lake Studios in Burbank. This is a similar approach fellow Toronto dual slide guitarist Brian Cober took to recording his recent album Austin Wired which we called “a must-have modern blues masterpiece.” Of course both of these releases follow Chris Antonik’s Better For You which took home one of our Album of the Year Awards last year. Raoul himself has already been awarded with NOW Magazine’s Best Toronto Blues Artist and the Maple Blues Award for Best New Artist and hopefully Hollywood Blvd. will garner him more attention on a global scale.

For Hollywood Blvd., Raoul wrote 8 of the 12 tracks and recruited some members of The Hollywood Fats Band, Canned Heat and The Mighty Flyers along with most of the current members of Mavis Staples’ band. It’s an all-star lineup of dedicated musicians, and you can truly feel the live vibe throughout the whole album. This is a record of a moment in time when like-minded people came together to express themselves. If they’re trying to impress anybody with their talents, it’s not the audience, it’s to each other - we’re just lucky enough to have a recording of it.

For current, and all-time blues records, Hollywood Blvd. is as good as it gets. People always have this idealistic idea of the ‘best’ music, and it’s usually a collective impression of an artist or era or style, and the reality is when you really look at any artist or era, it’s not ideal. Musicians are humans and subject to the practicalities of daily life. So today, right now, it’s important to recognize great artists like Raoul and the Big Time for their excellent achievement.

In fact, this album got us so interested in the people behind it, we reached out to Raoul to ask him a few questions.

RUST: Raoul, this is really a great album. How long were you working towards it? Was it a challenge to get the people and the places and everything set up?

RB: Well I started working on this one about a month after we released YOU MY PEOPLE in June 2009 with a session I did with my buddy Rusty Zinn when he was passing through Toronto playing a few Reggae shows. Rusty got us started. The sessions were put together mostly when friends were passing through Toronto and I could get these guys in the studio, with the exception of the sessions in Burbank. I recorded those with Innes, Watson, Kaplan and Taylor a few days after we did a show together at Cafe Boogaloo. What was paramount for me was not only capturing their performances but having the experience of playing live together. I wanted to actually do it. I didn’t want Mp3 tracks sent to me over email which would get punched in. I wasn’t interested in that. This music for me is alive and I really want that at the heart of it. Also you get better when you play with great people. I wanted that as well. The other sessions are with my band of merry men (and women) who I have the honour of playing with in Toronto and around Canada including Tom Bona, Terry Wilkins and Darren Gallen who are The Big Time.

RUST: You recorded on tape, not digitally. We think it sounds great, what do you think about the personality and quality that tape gives this recording vs digital?

RB: I’ve had a few discussions with people about this and I’m not about to get into it with a professional sound engineer because that’s what they do for a living and I know the technology is changing everyday. I do take some comfort that guys who said to me 10 years ago that tape was for the trash have started using tape again for that warmer analog sound. I also think it’s about creative approach. When you use tape, even just one reel that you reuse and dump to hard drive you think about “a take” in a different way. That being said our first record Big Time Blues from 2000 is a lot on ADAT and we got some cool sounds on it, as we still went with the same approach of live off the floor. I owe a lot of that approach to my mentor and bass player Terry Wilkins who got me hip to that when we were starting out.

RUST: Track 2, Hollywood Blvd. is our favorite song on the album. It has such a great organic growth. Can you tell us a little about where this song came from creatively?

RB: The West Coast players on this session in my mind are masters of bringing jazz and blues together which has always interested me as I love both genres and that sophsitication has always attracted me to the music of the West Coast, both today and in the past. I had the instrumental line in my head and had been thinking about it before we went into the studio but it was really the magic touch those guys have that set it up the right way.

RUST: Why Am I Treated So Bad is another of our favorites, can you tell us what is so significant about this song being on this album?

RB: Rick Holmstrom is one of the great living blues guitarists around and these guys in their work with Mavis Staples have upped their game if that was even possible. Jeff Turmes and Stephen Hodges have impressive resumes and all the West Coast guys have played with the best harmonica players around. That always helps a guy like me. So many ideas about who to back us up in the right way. I always have loved this tune by The Staples Singers and Mavis does an amazing live version of it in her show today. So great that I hesitated recording a version it. I had to find a way to make it my own and make it work, almost more as a tribute to them. The fact we have fellow Canadian Donny Gerrard on back up vocals is a such a treat for me. His work with Mavis is stunning and he’s a guy who was top of the pop charts forty years ago and long time collaborator with David Foster. His voice I described in the studio, needed to not so much be a backing vocal but an “inner voice” or the voice that whispers in your ear. The song was also a favourite of Martin Luther King who would oft request it when with The Staples Singers.

RUST: Having been involved in the Blues community in Toronto, what can you say is different about it there?

RB: The scene here is a mixture that is getting more diverse all the time. Toronto has an interesting blues and rock and roll tradition back to the hey days of Yonge Street when a young Ronnie Hawkins and Levon Helm arrived in the late 1950s, through to the Yorkville coffee house and folk club scene which then exploded into a more diverse club scene across town and lots of different styles of music. In regards to blues it was the early bands like DOWNCHILD that set up a R and B, party band feel that would end being at the route of a lot of the stuff that happens here. For me when I arrived in the mid 1990s we were going through a very hip swing and early jazz revival which ended up influencing me greatly. That traditional orthodoxy worked for me as we started the band using and upright bass and that changed what volume we could play at. As a harp player it was great to play at lower volumes through old tube amps and I could avoid a post Butterfield blues rock sound which didn’t really do it for me.

RUST: What are some fellow artists you think the world should know about?

RB: Piano player and singer Tyler Yarema is one of the best entertainers in the city and I will always be a big supporter of this boogie woogie, funky, big band hybrid that he was been building for the last twenty years in Toronto. He’s not on the road a lot as he is very busy with his house gigs here but he is a monster and I enjoy it when he is on one of our shows. If you are in Toronto GO SEE HIM.

RUST: Thanks for taking the time and effort to make such a great album. We appreciate it. Last question, what’s next for Raoul and the Big Time?

RB: I’m actually working on a play about The Blues and my story in it called Life, Death and The Blues that will premiere at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto in September 2014 and it will be hitting the road after that! - Rust Zine

"Roots Music Report : Hollywood Blvd *4 Stars!"

Written by Duane Verh
April 26, 2014 - 12:00am EDT
Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star

Raoul Bhajena brings just the right amount of vocal attitude and from-the-gut harp work as he fronts three separate lineups, delivering tasty and distinctive results with each. The Toronto-based bluesman (an accomplished actor as well) glides atop nasty grooves with one, swings solidly with another. In the latter case, it’s with a pack of venerable West Coast swingsters including guitarist Junior Watson and pianist Fred Kaplan. Guesting elsewhere are Curtis Salgado, Rusty Zinn and Rick Holmstrom. The instrumental “Amphetamine” lives up to its name. Other strong tracks include originals “High Roller” and “Nothin’ Gonna Take Me Down” and the Bobby Bland-popularized “Someday”. - Roots Music Report

"Raoul and The Big Time "Blue Midnight""

Little Walter was born on May 1, 1930 and was regarded as the greatest Harmonica player of all time. 80 years later to the day, we have the release of, "Blue Midnight - A Tribute To Little Walter", perhaps the finest harmonica tribute album ever created.

"Blue Midnight - A Tribute To Little Walter" was recorded live at the famed Silver Dollar Room in Toronto Canada, January 5th, 2008 and was hosted by the critically acclaimed band Raoul And The Big Time.

Joining Raoul And The Big Time on this Album was a literal who's who of Canadian Blues Harp Artists, including BHARATH RAJAKUMAR, DR. NICK OUROUMOV, TORTOISE BLUE, and MIKE SHRIMP DADDY REID. Now one would think that would be enough talent needed for this Album, but you would be wrong as other participants in the making of "Blue Midnight - A Tribute To Little Walter", included Paul Reddick Bill "Mojo Willie" Rymer, Wayne Charles, Mr. Rick Zolkower, Aaron Kazmer, and countless other greats in the music industry.

As mentioned earlier, this is a live Album and one of the best live Albums I have had the pleasure of listening to in quite a while, in fact I don't think you could of caught the essence of what Little Walter was all about any other way. With "Blue Midnight - A Tribute To Little Walter", you truly get the sense that you are in the room right their with everyone else, experiencing not only the fantastic music but also all the other spontaneity that makes a Live Album so special.

Little Walter was certainly a king when it came to the Harmonica and Raoul And The Big Time, plus all the other participants, have done nothing less than give him the royal treatment on "Blue Midnight - A Tribute To Little Walter", by offering us a unique opportunity to feel and experience the greatness that was, Little Walter.

"Blue Midnight - A Tribute To Little Walter" is one of the best Tribute Albums around, filled not only with a broad spectrum of songs from his famed career, but also an Tribute Album that would of made Little Walter, not only proud, but also honored.

I Highly Recommend this Album to any lover of the Blues Harp... Thoroughly Enjoyable...

John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)

Other Info


1. Don't Have To Hunt No More - featuring BHARATH RAJAKUMAR on harp
2. Driftin' Blues - featuring DR. NICK OUROUMOV on harp
3. Crazy Legs - featuring DR. NICK OUROUMOV on harp
4. Ludella - featuring BHARATH RAJAKUMAR on harp & vocals - JULIAN FAUTH on piano
5. Just Your Fool - featuring TORTOISE BLUE on harp & vocals
6. Sad Hours - featuring MARK BIRD STAFFORD on harp
7. Mellow Down Easy - featuring DR NICK OUROUMOV on harp & vocals
8. Hoochie Coochie Man - featuring BHARATH RAJAKUMAR on harp
9. Baby Please Don't Go - featuring BHARATH RAJAKUMAR on guitar & JULIAN FAUTH on piano & vocals
10. Little Girl- featuring MIKE SHRIMP DADDY REID on vocals & harp & BHARATH RAJAKUMAR on slide guitar
11. Just Keep Lovin You- featuring BHARATH RAJAKUMAR on vocals & harp..........
12. Honey Bee - featuring DR NICK OUROUMOV on harp & BHARATH RAJAKUMAR on slide guitar
13. I Want To Be Loved - featuring DARREN GALLEN on vocals & RAOUL BHANEJA on harp
14. Blue Midnight- featuring DR NICK OUROUMOV on harp - Blues Underground Network

"Music Review: Raoul and The Big Time - YOU MY PEOPLE"

There aren’t too many bands these days writing thoughtful, original blues songs. But then, not too many blues bands are blessed with a charismatic singer / harmonicist like Raoul Bhaneja, an accomplished actor who’s held down a regular role in a television series, appeared in several feature films, and has toured the world in support of his one-man production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Shakespeare and the blues may seem odd bedfellows, but Bhaneja’s abilities as both writer and performer give You My People, the third outing by Raoul And The Big Time, a uniquely hip vibe.

Bhaneja wrote most of the material (some with help), following conventional blues forms but adding a personal stamp through rhythmic twists and a unique approach to harmonica. He deftly avoids cliché, even when dealing with time-honored topics; titular opener “You My People,” a boastful party-starter, succeeds with winning good-spirits, while “Where The Wind Blows On Shore” borrows from “Black Night” but expands the poetic imagery substantially.

“Killing My World” is an angry indictment of those in power who are poisoning the earth, while “Sad State Of Affairs” addresses the plight of the working poor. “Menthol Mama” is a clever look at what it’s like to live with an unrepentant smoker, and closer “We Can Change” (co-written with guest vocalist Theresa Levasseur) is a hopeful declaration of defiance in the face of all that can tear a relationship apart. Covers include a stripped down and stunning “All To Myself” (Ray Charles), Muddy Waters’ “Gypsy Woman,” enlivened by guest Tyler Yarema’s sparkling piano work, and “One Card Trump,” an easy-going shuffle written by Toronto-based jazz chanteuse Elizabeth Shepherd.

Bhaneja doesn’t have a huge vocal range, but his delivery is invariably effective, employing sly phrasing and quiet confidence to get his message across. The core band is exemplary – bassist Terry Wilkins is a local legend, and drummer Tom Bona and guitarist Darren Gallen are first-call (and first-rate) players for countless acts. All play with exquisitely restraint, honoring the obvious care and craft Bhaneja’s put into each composition. Some pretty high-profile guests are on board as well, including west-coast wonder Junior Watson, master of quirky yet killer guitar solos, and Mark Hummel, who joins in on harp for a pair. (His duet with Bhaneja on the aptly-named instrumental, “Breathin’ In,” is an exquisite exercise in chromatic cooperation). Also on hand are Vancouver-based Gospel quartet The Sojourners, with additional guests contributing horns as appropriate.

Bhaneja shows a sure hand at pulling everything together – the varied instrumentation seems just right for each track, and when addressing topical issues he keeps things clever rather than preachy. Production is ideal, with an extra richness in the bottom (co-producer Wilkins’ bass standup based has a wonderfully warm presence throughout) that’s never obtrusive, and an appealing immediacy to Bhaneja’s voice and harp.

Blues is music of extraordinary depth and emotional resonance, all too often reduced to formulaic reconstruction. Bhaneja and company don’t exactly re-invent things, but their approach brings the blues into a thoroughly contemporary urban setting without sacrificing the music’s timeless potency.

Artistically accomplished and a thoroughly enjoyable listen, this one’s a winner indeed!

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/music/article/music-review-raoul-and-the-big/page-2/#ixzz107ulCoNw
Read more: http://blogcritics.org/music/article/music-review-raoul-and-the-big/#ixzz107ueAErK - Blogcritics

"EcoBash boasts big talen"

The Saskatoon Blues Society presents new roots band The Legendary Miles Johnson, Saturday at the Off Broadway Arts Centre with Manitoba Hal. Edmonton singer-keyboardist Graham Guest and Toronto actor-musician Raoul Bhaneja sought to create a genre-flexible collective that can change its size and lineup on a dime. They recruited legendary Toronto musician Terry Wilkins (Rough Trade, Big Sugar, Colin Linden) to help record the group's self-titled debut CD which includes guests like The Foggy Hometown Boys and jazz singer Melissa Stylianou. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $20 at McNally Robinson, Long & McQuade and www.ticketweb.ca. - Saskatoon Star Phoenix

"Looking For Blues"


If you know the legendary Miles Johnson, then you know his shows next week at the Yardbird Suite are gonna cook. But then, you couldn't. At least not yet, anyway.

Not to be confused with Tommy Johnson and Robert Johnson - or for someone who actually existed - Miles Johnson is the brainchild of local keyboardist Graham Guest (of Sue Foley, the Du Rite Aces, Tim Lee and the Revelators) and his Toronto friend Raoul Bhaneja (he of Raoul and The Bigtime, a smokin' harmonica and bad rock hair). The shows run Dec. 8-9. - Edmonton Sun

"Not a lot of tinkering with this legend"

Not a lot of tinkering with this legend: Eclectic collection on debut disc recorded in live-off-the-floor session by well-paired duo
Edmonton Journal
Friday, December 8, 2006
Page: G11
Section: What's On
Byline: Roger Levesque
Column: Roger Levesque
Source: Freelance


CD Release

Where: Yardbird Suite

When: Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m.

Tickets: $16 members, $20 guests, from Ticketmaster or at the door

- - -

When is a blues band not a blues band?

Maybe when the musicians bill themselves under a false name and include bits of bluegrass, jazz and other styles on record. But Graham Guest and Raoul Bhaneja -- co-leaders of the project called Legendary Miles Johnson -- will admit they started out playing the blues.

"We're so tired of people trying to box us into one style or another," explains Bhaneja, "so we came up with this sounds-kind-of-familiar fictitious roots musician."

Toronto-based Bhaneja is probably best known as the actor behind the one-man solo Hamlet, and as a cast member on the now-defunct Global television soap Train 48, but he has also led his own Big Time Blues unit since the late 1990s. Edmonton's Guest, keyboard player with singer Sue Foley for eight years now, has been leading the Yardbird's house blues band behind numerous visiting veterans since 1998. The two musicians met backstage at a B.B. King concert at Toronto's Massey Hall about five years ago and became quick friends.

The Legendary Miles Johnson is their self-titled, surprisingly eclectic, good-humoured 12-track debut disc that came about in a Toronto studio over the past year. It's nearly all original material, re-corded live-off-the-floor -- without a lot of studio tinkering -- for a spontaneous feel. Bhaneja contributes harmonica and occasional guitar beside Guest's piano while they split vocal duties. Bassist/producer Terry Wilkins completes some of the sparest tracks with a few other guests filling out the entertaining disc, while Bhaneja's tune Happiness Is features The Foggy Hog Town Boys' bluegrass sound.

When Legendary Miles Johnson marks the release of the CD this weekend, Guest and Bhaneja will perform most of the album as a duo in the first set before bassist Chris Brzezicki, guitarist Clayton Sample (both ex-Rockin' Highliners), and drummer Jeff Lisk join in for the second set of varied tunes.

For Bhaneja, Legendary Miles Johnson is just the latest project in a busy career split between acting and music. Born in Manchester, England, he's the child of an Indian father and Irish mother, who grew up in Ottawa and Germany before attending the National Theatre School in Montreal, moving to Toronto a decade ago. Heading up his own Big Time Blues brought him a Maple Blues Award for Best New Artist in 1999 before two subsequent albums helped boost the group's fan base.

Last year Bhaneja's talents won him a role in the recent Michael Douglas film The Sentinel. That side of his career is only getting busier, but he says he enjoys how music and acting complement each other.

"When people ask me what I do I usually say I'm a performer. Whether I'm doing Hamlet solo or the Legendary Miles Johnson project, they're different things, but they're also closely connected by communicating directly with an audience and a story, and I'm addicted to that intimacy of live performance."

Guest was actually born in Toronto but raised in Edmonton from an early age and inspired to play keyboards by his pianist mother. Then, in his early teens he had the example of mentor-teacher Charlie Austin, and at age 16 he put in his first professional gig with the Swingin' Ya Band. That led to subsequent tours with Eddie Shaw and other blues veterans. Playing with Sue Foley over the past eight years has taken him all over North America and Europe, but he adds that the Yardbird blues gigs have been an invaluable education.

"I don't know if people realize what a rare situation that is. As time goes on and artists pass on, many people will only be able to experience that generation of musicians on recordings, so it's been a very special experience."

For Guest, the keyboard is an instrument that easily overlaps between blues and jazz styles, and he's happy with the variety of the new album.

"These tunes just came out the way they were supposed to, one by one, in an organic way with no deliberate intent to make an eclectic record," he says.

The self-titled Legendary Miles Johnson CD has been picked up by Festival Distribution and should be available in stores shortly, but you can also order it from the band's website www.thelegendarymilesjohnson.com. - Edmonton Journal


Hollywood Blvd (2014)

Blue Midnight: A Live Tribute To Little Walter (2010)

You My People (2009)

Cold Outside (2004)

Big Time Blues (2000)

The Legendary Miles Johnson (self titled) (2006) - Raoul Bhaneja with Graham Guest

Broad- 3 tracks on 2011 release from JUNO nominee Treasa Levasseur



Since forming in 1998 Toronto based blues heroes Raoul and The Big Time have forged a musical direction described by Now Magazine as “an eclectic and learned combination of ‘Toronto/Chicago/Hollywood Blues’… a seriously credible homage to the classic school”.

2014 saw Raoul and The Big Time release HOLLYWOOD BLVD, which has already garnered international airplay and strong reviews.  The new recording features guest performances from an all star line up of blues legends including members of the Mavis Staples Band including Rick Holmstrom, Stephen Hodges, Jeff Turmes, Donny Gerrard with Curtis Salgado and California legends Junior Watson, Rusty Zinn, Richard Innes, Fred Kaplan, Larry Taylor, Franck Goldwasser and more. Bear Family Records (Germany) and Bluebeat Music (USA) are among a number of companies who carry this special recording with linear notes by legendary US blues DJ Bill Wax.  Curtis Salgado joined the Big Time for two rare Canadian dates in May 2014 to celebrate the release of the record. 

Previously Raoul Bhaneja has hosted the Maple Blues Awards to date at Koerner Hall in Toronto, 8 piece band main stage debuts at Kitchener Blues, Beaches International Jazz and for a crowd of 10,000 at The Montreal International Jazz Festival along with more recording including three songs on the new record BROAD by Juno nominee Treasa Levasseur. Annual live tributes to Little Walter take place at Hugh’s Room and special guests have included Bharath Rajakumar,  Chicago blues legend Billy Boy Arnold, Billy Branch, Lee Oskar, Stever Marriner and many more.  

In 2010 included three significant live performances this summer included a debut at The Ottawa Blues Fest with special guest Grammy Nominee Curtis Salgado, Vancouver Folk with Alvin Youngblood Hart and Bettye LaVette and a mainstage opener at The Southside Shuffle for Downchild and Ronnie Hawkins. The season was rounded out with a live taping of the band for Canada Live and Saturday Night Blues for CBC Radio. These three performances and taping were in support of the 2009 release YOU MY PEOPLE which has garnered strong reviews and made many Top Recording of 2010 lists. Raoul also acted as host of world music programming at LUMINATO and The Hillebrand Blues Festival this summer where he performed with Harry Manx. He was also selected to appear on "Canada's Next Top Crooner" judged by Matt Dusk on CBC Radio's "GO" opposite Ori Dagan and Shannon Butcher where he performed a memorable swinging version of London Calling by The Clash!

With the release of BIG TIME BLUES (2000) and COLD OUTSIDE (2004) Raoul and The Big Time broadened their fan base at home and abroad with international distribution along with a hit video for BABY DON’T STOP one of the Top 10 on BRAVO in 2005. They have appeared on television nationwide and have opened for blues legends like Buddy Guy, Bobby “Blue” Bland and The Downchild Blues Band. Earlier festival appearances include The Salmon Arts Roots and Blues, Harbourfront, Beaches International Jazz, Mont Tremblant Blues, Southside Shuffle, Canal Bank Shuffle, Hillebrand Estates, JVC Jazz, Downtown Jazz and many more.

Fronted by the multi talented actor/musician Raoul Bhaneja, known to audiences around the world for both his touring theatre success HAMLET (solo) and numerous film and television credits (The Sentinel, Ararat, Train 48) the band consists of veteran founding members Darren Gallen on guitar (David Rotundo, Michael Pickett), Tom Bona on drums (Sue Foley, Bourbon Tabernacle Choir) and legendary upright bass player Terry Wilkins (Rough Trade, Big Sugar, Levon Helm).

Band Members