Bill Kinnear started playing guitar late in life - at age 35. He travelled to the Mississippi delta spending time there soaking up as much of the culture and music as he could. Although not a technician, he brought a wonderful immediacy to his simple but soulful playing. He met Carlos in 1991 and they recorded this one CD before Bill died in 1994. He was only 52 and died shortly after watching his 11 year old son die of a life debilitating disease. Although he loved life (he will be warmly remembered by all that knew him), he really died of a broken heart as he pretty much drank and smoked himself to death within a year of his son's death. The opening Fred McDowell track "You Gotta Move" is Bill's plea for his son's recovery from illness...
Carlos del Junco Career highlights
1997 - 2009 Harmonica Player of the Year - SEVEN times out of the Canadian Maple Blues Award's TWELVE 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
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."
Carlos is certainly not your straight ahead blues harmonica player. Carlos' influences are far and wide and can quickly stray from a straight ahead blues groove into more adventurous roots related territory which may include, jazzy, Latin, New Orleans second line grooves, or ska. He will occasionally take a blues standard and flip it upside down to breath new life into it. 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.
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. The sophisticated sound produced by del Junco is at once sensitive, soulful, and sexy while never forgetting the rawness inherent in blues music.
In March/April 1995 del Junco travelled to Chicago with a Canada Council grant to study with Howard Levy. This year saw the release of of the critically acclaimed Just Your Fool a sizzling live session with Kevin Breit on guitar, Al Duffy on bass, and Geoff Arsenault on drums. It was this CD and the collaborative effort with Thom "Champagne Charlie" Roberts Big Road Blues, that won Carlos the 1996 Blues Musician Of The Year Award...
...del Junco continues to produce an eclectic palette of music on Steady Movin', his (2008) 5th recording in a band setting and his second CD for Northern Blues. It features a mostly acoustic set with 3 solo showcases of Carlos harmonica wizardry. 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 11 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.