The Smoke Wagon Blues Band
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The Smoke Wagon Blues Band

Burlington, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 1996

Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Established on Jan, 1996
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The Smoke Wagon Blues Band @ Carrigan Arms

Burlington, Ontario, Canada

Burlington, Ontario, Canada

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Posted on Sunday, October 14, 2012, by John_Taylor
Corey Lueck has a voice that seems custom-made for the blues –a bit gritty, a lot raspy, with just a hint of sweetness around the edges to make it all palatable. It Ain’t Easy finds Corey stepping up front as leader of the Smoke Wagon Blues Band for the first time. (Together since 1997, the band has four previous recordings under its collective belt, the first three released independently).

It makes sense, given it’s largely Lueck’s voice and distinctive harmonica that defines the band’s sound, and he has co-writing credits (most with guitarist Mike Stubbs) on all but the disc’s lone cover. Theirs is a tough, no nonsense, blue-collar bar band sound, but superior songwriting and finely nuanced performances – themes may be straightforward but the playing is thoughtful and carefully considered – render this a fine outing indeed.

Material tends to cover pretty basic territory – representative titles include “Devil Got My Woman,” “Drinking Hard And Steady,” “Fine Furred Mama,” and “Drink By The Sink” – and deal with the everyday concerns of everyday people. But while there are indeed a handful of shuffles, the arrangements tend to be sturdily crafted without sacrificing raw feel, and there’s enough variety and surprises to keep things interesting. Lueck’s squalling harp is judiciously applied for maximum effect, and guitarist Stubbs is equally adept at supple rhythm accompaniment and tight, economical leads that actually do lead somewhere.

The core band consists of bassist Gordon Aeichele, who also doubles on growly sax, and drummer Steve Sherman, with various friends and acquaintances sitting for relief now and then. There are even strings, applied with admirable restraint, on a pair of ballads (including the title track) courtesy of the Kingston St. Quartet, who also provide horns on a handful. Robin Banks shares lead vocals on the shimmery, swampy “That Voodoo” and handles the hard-driving “Where Did I Go Wrong” on her own.

But again, it’s Lueck out front now, and while he’s by no means a polished vocalist, there’s an innate honesty in every line he delivers. Most bands compose songs, practice, and subsequently perform them – by definition, there’s a certain artistic artifice involved. Lueck seems to bypass performing, sounding instead as though he’s literally living every song, every line, in the moment. (The title song is utterly heart-wrenching, the anguished cry of a man facing the sheer devastation of a lost love). Lueck’s harp work has the same quality – there may be better technicians around, but few can make the humble harmonica so expressive and so eloquent, and in the end that’s what matters.

It’s all honest and unpretentious, music made not for fame or fortune (though one assumes they’d both be welcome byproducts,) but for love, the kind made by people who simply couldn’t imagine a life that didn’t involve making music. It’s very real, and it’s very good. - John Taylor


Posted on Sunday, October 14, 2012, by John_Taylor
Corey Lueck has a voice that seems custom-made for the blues –a bit gritty, a lot raspy, with just a hint of sweetness around the edges to make it all palatable. It Ain’t Easy finds Corey stepping up front as leader of the Smoke Wagon Blues Band for the first time. (Together since 1997, the band has four previous recordings under its collective belt, the first three released independently).

It makes sense, given it’s largely Lueck’s voice and distinctive harmonica that defines the band’s sound, and he has co-writing credits (most with guitarist Mike Stubbs) on all but the disc’s lone cover. Theirs is a tough, no nonsense, blue-collar bar band sound, but superior songwriting and finely nuanced performances – themes may be straightforward but the playing is thoughtful and carefully considered – render this a fine outing indeed.

Material tends to cover pretty basic territory – representative titles include “Devil Got My Woman,” “Drinking Hard And Steady,” “Fine Furred Mama,” and “Drink By The Sink” – and deal with the everyday concerns of everyday people. But while there are indeed a handful of shuffles, the arrangements tend to be sturdily crafted without sacrificing raw feel, and there’s enough variety and surprises to keep things interesting. Lueck’s squalling harp is judiciously applied for maximum effect, and guitarist Stubbs is equally adept at supple rhythm accompaniment and tight, economical leads that actually do lead somewhere.

The core band consists of bassist Gordon Aeichele, who also doubles on growly sax, and drummer Steve Sherman, with various friends and acquaintances sitting for relief now and then. There are even strings, applied with admirable restraint, on a pair of ballads (including the title track) courtesy of the Kingston St. Quartet, who also provide horns on a handful. Robin Banks shares lead vocals on the shimmery, swampy “That Voodoo” and handles the hard-driving “Where Did I Go Wrong” on her own.

But again, it’s Lueck out front now, and while he’s by no means a polished vocalist, there’s an innate honesty in every line he delivers. Most bands compose songs, practice, and subsequently perform them – by definition, there’s a certain artistic artifice involved. Lueck seems to bypass performing, sounding instead as though he’s literally living every song, every line, in the moment. (The title song is utterly heart-wrenching, the anguished cry of a man facing the sheer devastation of a lost love). Lueck’s harp work has the same quality – there may be better technicians around, but few can make the humble harmonica so expressive and so eloquent, and in the end that’s what matters.

It’s all honest and unpretentious, music made not for fame or fortune (though one assumes they’d both be welcome byproducts,) but for love, the kind made by people who simply couldn’t imagine a life that didn’t involve making music. It’s very real, and it’s very good. - John Taylor


John Valenteyn
http://torontobluessociety.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/mb1210v9_sm.pdf

Hamilton’s best-kept secret is making a move. The Smoke Wagon Blues Band has been a mainstay there for well over a decade, releasing independent CDs and graduating from the Hess Street Village scene to larger venues & festivals. The lineup has been unusually steadyover that time, with Corey Lueck on vocals & harp and Mike Stubbs on guitar. They do almost all of the songwriting. Steve Pritchard on keyboards, Gord Aeichele on bass & sax and Gavin Robertson on drums are also long time members. Lueck gets top billing for his fine, whisky-stained vocals and his remarkable way with a blues ballad of which, happily, there are several. We can put this down to the Rod Stewart effect. It’s but a part of what they call a mix of ‘classic R&B, lowdown righteous blues, hypnotizing boogies & barn burners’. Whisky does indeed play a prominent part in their songs and the opener, “Devil Got My Woman” has her serving him bourbon for breakfast and he’s not complaining. “Hold On To You” is one of those ballads, with Pritchard on a string synthesizer. “Josephine” is an excellent grinder and the lead single. Guest Jesse O’Brien adds his inimitable piano/organ. They can do acoustic too, with “Hen House Hopping” serving as a perfect vehicle for Lueck’s double entendre lyrics. “Down Hearted Blues” is not quite what you’re expecting but an original long, slow blues featuring the horns of the Kingston St. Quartet and a good solo from Stubbs. “It Ain’t Easy (to lose the one you love)” is the best of those ballads, with Lueck at his finest and more help from the horns. “That Voodoo” is a duet, Lueck with Robin Banks, over a swampy rhythm cushion. Banks sounds great on these film noir lyrics and Lueck solos powerfully on amplified harp. Add “Damaged Time” to that ballad list. Ms. Banks gets a solo vocal on “Where Did I Go Wrong” as Lueck sits one out in a most generous gesture and she does not disappoint. “Drink By The Sink” is the closer, with Lueck singing through his harp mike over Stubbs’ dobro – a gorgeous and all too short slab of country blues. The web site is www.smokewagonbluesband.com and it shows no Toronto dates, maybe we’ll just have to go to Hamilton! - John Valenteyn Toronto Blues Society


John Valenteyn
http://torontobluessociety.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/mb1210v9_sm.pdf

Hamilton’s best-kept secret is making a move. The Smoke Wagon Blues Band has been a mainstay there for well over a decade, releasing independent CDs and graduating from the Hess Street Village scene to larger venues & festivals. The lineup has been unusually steadyover that time, with Corey Lueck on vocals & harp and Mike Stubbs on guitar. They do almost all of the songwriting. Steve Pritchard on keyboards, Gord Aeichele on bass & sax and Gavin Robertson on drums are also long time members. Lueck gets top billing for his fine, whisky-stained vocals and his remarkable way with a blues ballad of which, happily, there are several. We can put this down to the Rod Stewart effect. It’s but a part of what they call a mix of ‘classic R&B, lowdown righteous blues, hypnotizing boogies & barn burners’. Whisky does indeed play a prominent part in their songs and the opener, “Devil Got My Woman” has her serving him bourbon for breakfast and he’s not complaining. “Hold On To You” is one of those ballads, with Pritchard on a string synthesizer. “Josephine” is an excellent grinder and the lead single. Guest Jesse O’Brien adds his inimitable piano/organ. They can do acoustic too, with “Hen House Hopping” serving as a perfect vehicle for Lueck’s double entendre lyrics. “Down Hearted Blues” is not quite what you’re expecting but an original long, slow blues featuring the horns of the Kingston St. Quartet and a good solo from Stubbs. “It Ain’t Easy (to lose the one you love)” is the best of those ballads, with Lueck at his finest and more help from the horns. “That Voodoo” is a duet, Lueck with Robin Banks, over a swampy rhythm cushion. Banks sounds great on these film noir lyrics and Lueck solos powerfully on amplified harp. Add “Damaged Time” to that ballad list. Ms. Banks gets a solo vocal on “Where Did I Go Wrong” as Lueck sits one out in a most generous gesture and she does not disappoint. “Drink By The Sink” is the closer, with Lueck singing through his harp mike over Stubbs’ dobro – a gorgeous and all too short slab of country blues. The web site is www.smokewagonbluesband.com and it shows no Toronto dates, maybe we’ll just have to go to Hamilton! - John Valenteyn Toronto Blues Society


What the critics are saying:

5 out of 5: "... one of my favorites and most often played albums... one of the most requested... contender for my favorite song of the year... Highly Recommended ..." (John Vermilyea, Blues Underground Network)

"... killer CD full of great riffs, woeful harmonica cries and masterful instrumentation... BUY IT "
(Dan Harr, Music News Nashville)

" ...Well paced, fun, poignant and a great addition to anyone’s collection. Buy it..." (Blues 411)

4 out of 5: "...rounded, mature and just the thing to tempt the taste buds of those uptown twelve bar fans of bygone days... That, brothers and sisters, is the way to do it. Live it, smoke it and sing it out loud and proud." (Bluesbunny Music Reviews, Scotland)

"... thing of beauty... blues explosion... as good as they come." (Brian Koppen, Muzik Reviews)

8 out of 10: "... one good deal... an enjoyable experience." (Paul Kalis, Blues Rock Review)

"...highly entertaining journey ... serious candidate for blues song of the year"
(Bluespfaffe, Wasser Prawda Magazin, Germany)

"... blimey, but it's good... a great record from beginning to end, and the ideal soundtrack to your next party." (Zeitgeist, www.the-rocker.co.uk)

"...should have been nominated in the Maple Blues Awards. It is definitely one of my favorite canadian albums for 2012...." (Jean-Pierre Petit "L'Hôtel Du Blues", CKUT 90,3 FM Montréal)

"...remarkable ... Lueck at his finest" (John Valenteyn, Maple Blues Magazine)

"... utterly heart-wrenching... It’s all honest and unpretentious... It’s very real, and it’s very good."
(John Taylor, Blinded by Sound)

"... the pace is exciting... Very expressive...rhythmic... atmosphere is excellent... blues classic... captivating..." (Jean Claude Mondo, MusicZine, France)

"... everything you’d want in a blues record... a blues journey worth taking..."
(John "The Rock Doctor" Kereiff, Rock Doc Reviews)

"... real entertaining recording... a good CD end to end." (Bman's Blues Report)

"...high caliber musicians... extremely varied... absolutely honest and captivating ... Hearing is believing! "
(Blues Borders, Folk Bulletin)

"... accomplished what they set out to do... shown the blues world ... strong originals with excellent musicianship!" (Don & Sheryl Crow's Blues Blog) - www.smokewagonbluesband.com


What the critics are saying:

5 out of 5: "... one of my favorites and most often played albums... one of the most requested... contender for my favorite song of the year... Highly Recommended ..." (John Vermilyea, Blues Underground Network)

"... killer CD full of great riffs, woeful harmonica cries and masterful instrumentation... BUY IT "
(Dan Harr, Music News Nashville)

" ...Well paced, fun, poignant and a great addition to anyone’s collection. Buy it..." (Blues 411)

4 out of 5: "...rounded, mature and just the thing to tempt the taste buds of those uptown twelve bar fans of bygone days... That, brothers and sisters, is the way to do it. Live it, smoke it and sing it out loud and proud." (Bluesbunny Music Reviews, Scotland)

"... thing of beauty... blues explosion... as good as they come." (Brian Koppen, Muzik Reviews)

8 out of 10: "... one good deal... an enjoyable experience." (Paul Kalis, Blues Rock Review)

"...highly entertaining journey ... serious candidate for blues song of the year"
(Bluespfaffe, Wasser Prawda Magazin, Germany)

"... blimey, but it's good... a great record from beginning to end, and the ideal soundtrack to your next party." (Zeitgeist, www.the-rocker.co.uk)

"...should have been nominated in the Maple Blues Awards. It is definitely one of my favorite canadian albums for 2012...." (Jean-Pierre Petit "L'Hôtel Du Blues", CKUT 90,3 FM Montréal)

"...remarkable ... Lueck at his finest" (John Valenteyn, Maple Blues Magazine)

"... utterly heart-wrenching... It’s all honest and unpretentious... It’s very real, and it’s very good."
(John Taylor, Blinded by Sound)

"... the pace is exciting... Very expressive...rhythmic... atmosphere is excellent... blues classic... captivating..." (Jean Claude Mondo, MusicZine, France)

"... everything you’d want in a blues record... a blues journey worth taking..."
(John "The Rock Doctor" Kereiff, Rock Doc Reviews)

"... real entertaining recording... a good CD end to end." (Bman's Blues Report)

"...high caliber musicians... extremely varied... absolutely honest and captivating ... Hearing is believing! "
(Blues Borders, Folk Bulletin)

"... accomplished what they set out to do... shown the blues world ... strong originals with excellent musicianship!" (Don & Sheryl Crow's Blues Blog) - www.smokewagonbluesband.com



By the time that Corey Lueck And The Smoke Wagon Blues Band's stellar new release, "It Ain't Easy", had finally come up for review, I had already been grooving on this album for over a month. It had quickly become one of my favorites and most often played albums, as well as, one of the most requested of my friends when they came over for a visit.

Formed in 1997, Corey Lueck And The Smoke Wagon Blues Band, have been a perennial favorite of Southern Ontario, particularly the Hamilton area, known as a hub for great Blues for many years. They perform their unique blend of Chicago Blues, New Orleans Swing, and original material, all along featuring "Funky Harmonica, Whiskey Stained Vocals, Slick Guitar Work, and a Solid Rhythm Section ". With all this, Corey Lueck And The Smoke Wagon Blues Band, have managed to bring forward a unique and creative sound, that instantly becomes additive after only a short while of listening to.

"It Ain't Easy" consists of 15 great Tracks of which Corey Lueck is credited with co-writing all but one, along with Mike Stubbs. Other co-writing credits on a Track each go to Scott Silverthorn and Scott Pritchard. The one cover on "It Ain't Easy" is credited to Rudy Stevenson, whom in addition to Guitarist, mostly Jazz, "was a producer and manager and wrote songs for Nina Simone, George Benson, Joe Zawinul, Herbie Mann, and Dexter Gordon. He does not say a word about it. I just do music! That’s my job!, says the legendary and in the meantime 84-young guitarist ." Rudy Stevenson passed away in 2010.

Although Corey Lueck is a super accomplished Harp player, after listening to "It Ain't Easy", I must say that his true forte is his Vocals. His singing reminded me a lot of a toned down Joe Cocker, with that unique gritty edge. Additional singers on "It Ain't Easy", including Robin Banks, whom sang solo on Track 13, "Where Did I go Wrong" and with Corey on Track 8, "That Voodoo". Rhonda Davidson is credited with Backing Vocals Track 9, "Tongue Tied", as was Guitarists Mike Stubbs. In addition to Lueck and Stubbs, the other member of this trio is Steve Sherman on Drums, as well as Bass, on several Tracks. Additional musicians and performers included Robin Banks, Jesse O'Brien, Gordon Aeichele, Scott Pritchard, Nick Succi, and the Kingston St. Quartet.

"It Ain't Easy" had a lot of great music on it, including straight up classic Chicago Blues, Soulful Jazz, Rockin' Swingin' Boogie, Country Blues and More...

For my 3 Favorites, which by the way wasn't overly easy picking, due to the immense depth of "It Ain't Easy", were Track 3, "Josephine", Track 6, "Drinking Hard And Steady", and Track 15, "Drink By The Sink".

"Josephine", hooked me as soon as I heard Mike Stubbs kick in, from the beginning, on Dobro, and that along with Vocals, Horns, and Jesse O'Brien on Piano/Organ made for one great tune. A little reminenscent of a early 70's sound.

"Drinking Hard And Steady", instantly reminded of Brickhouse, one of my favorite Vancouver based bands, and not only was it my favorite Track on the album, it is a contender for my favorite song of the year. This Funky edged number has a brilliant and infectious back beat courtesy of Steve Sherman, great Bass/Sax from Gordon Aeichele, and once again, excellent Piano/Organ from Jesse O'Brien.

"Drink By The Sink" is the closer for "It Ain't Easy" and has a nice gritty raw feel to it, similar to Rollin' and Tumblin', but done a lot more down and dirty, with a slight distortion feel on Vocals, almost as if done through a megaphone. This was a great way to end the album and certainly left me with the feeling of wanting to hit the replay button and do it all over again.

After listening to "It Ain't Easy", I quickly decided to add it to my short list for Best Canadian Blues Album (Band) for 2012. It is a fabulous album from an equally fabulous band. This kind of stuff just doesn't come around on a daily basis anymore... Wow...

5***** for sure for this beauty... Highly Recommended and Thoroughly Enjoyed...

Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
http://www.bluesundergroundnetwork.com/



The new ablum has been making a great splash on the blues scene world wide here are some other nice reviews on the home front

Hamilton Blues Lovers: http://blueshamilton.blogspot.ca/2012/08/new-corey-lueck-and-smoke-wagon-blues.html

Bman's Blues Review: http://www.bmansbluesreport.com/2012/09/it-aint-easy-corey-lueck-and-smoke.html

John kereiff: http://www.rosslandradio.com/node/3635

Root Report: http://www.rootsmusicreport.com/index.php?page=news&id=577

Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=harpdoglueck&oq=harpdoglueck&gs_l=youtube.3...3491.18902.0.20283.12.11.0.0.0.0.1901.8318.5-5j4j0j1.10.0...0.0...1ac.1.bqfLiy-x8QE - New Blues Canada John Vermilyea


“HAMILTONS FINEST PROGESSIVE BLUES EXPERIENCE”

Toronto Blues Society



“WHERE THERE’S SMOKE THERE’S BLUES”

Glen Nott, Hamilton Spectator



“I CAN TASTE THE WHISKY NOW”

Darren Degrace 89.5 FM



“THESE WORKING CLASS CANADIAN MUSICIANS SHOULD BE
AROUND A LONG WHILE”

Maple Blues Magazine



“IT’S ALWAYS A ROOM FULL OF BLUES WHEN THE SMOKE WAGON
BOYS ARE IN TOWN”

The Black Swan



“LISTENING TO THE SMOKE WAGON BLUES BAND, ONE PICTURES
A DARKENED LOUNGE WITH A GLASS OF WHISKY”

Kathryn Dunmore,
The Burlington Post


For writes ups, pictures, sound bites on the band please see www.smokewagonbluesband.com







- All


“HAMILTONS FINEST PROGESSIVE BLUES EXPERIENCE”

Toronto Blues Society



“WHERE THERE’S SMOKE THERE’S BLUES”

Glen Nott, Hamilton Spectator



“I CAN TASTE THE WHISKY NOW”

Darren Degrace 89.5 FM



“THESE WORKING CLASS CANADIAN MUSICIANS SHOULD BE
AROUND A LONG WHILE”

Maple Blues Magazine



“IT’S ALWAYS A ROOM FULL OF BLUES WHEN THE SMOKE WAGON
BOYS ARE IN TOWN”

The Black Swan



“LISTENING TO THE SMOKE WAGON BLUES BAND, ONE PICTURES
A DARKENED LOUNGE WITH A GLASS OF WHISKY”

Kathryn Dunmore,
The Burlington Post


For writes ups, pictures, sound bites on the band please see www.smokewagonbluesband.com







- All


Discography

1999 Smoke Wagon Blues number 36 including original and new members of the band (out of print)

2001 Indie Pool "Low Down Righteous Blues" available from www.smokewagonbluesband.com

2005 Indie Pool " The one and only Smoke Wagon Blues Band" availbable from www.smokewagonbluesband.com

2006 Indie Pool "The Smoke Wagon Blues Band and Friends" Just under 1 hour of new Canadian Blues Classic's feature some of Canada's finest Blues musicians. Available through indie pool, indigo, HMV

2012 Indie Pool Corey Lueck And The Smoke Wagon Blues Band "It Ain't Easy" featuring Robin Banks, Jesse O'Brien and much much more. Avail through indie pool, itunes, indigo, HMV and www.smokewagonbluesband.com

Hear tracks on our site. www.smokewagonbluesband.com

Photos

Bio

 Featuring whiskey stained soul vocals, funky blues harmonica, slick R&B/roots guitar, swinging piano work, soulful organ, riveting saxophone, with a racy, taut rhythm section, The Smoke Wagon Blues Band has been performing on festival stages for two decades. Formed in 1996, the band became crowd favorites in Hamilton, Ontario’s famous Hess Village. Six independent releases, international radio play, and a large local fan base propelled the band to venues across the continent. The group’s last three albums were international hits reaching the top of the roots and blues charts and garnering 5-star reviews in blues magazines and blogs around the globe. The bands newest release “Cigar Store” won 3 indie blues awards at the 2017 independent Blues awards in Atlanta Georgia, has spent 47 weeks (10 months) and counting on the top 50 Roots and Blues charts in Canada and the U.S, reaching #2 in Canada, #6 in USA, and #16 in Australia. The bands red hot live performances and award winning “Live in Hamilton” LP have become the talk of the town at festivals across the county including the 2016 IBC’s in Memphis where they became fan favorites during a three-night stand at Club 152 on Beale St. The bands past main stage performances include: The Kitchener Blues Festival, Toronto Jazz Festival, Blues with a Feeling Festival, Burlington Sound of music festival, West Coast Blues Festival, Sarnia Blues Festival, and many more      


Band Members