The Chicago Way
Toronzo Cannon was born on Chicago’s south side in 1968. While growing up Cannon would sit outside Theresa’s Lounge listening to the sounds of Buddy Guy and Junior Wells spilling out onto the street. He purchased his first guitar when he was 22. His early influences included Albert Collins, Albert King and Al Green.
Cannon worked as a sideman for Tommy McCracken, Joanna Connor and Wayne Baker Brooks. He formed Toronzo Cannon and The Cannonball Express in 2003 and released his first album “My Woman” in 2007. Cannon also released two albums for Delmark Records; 2011’s “Leaving Mood” and 2013’s Blues Music Award nominated “John the Conquer Root”.
The band includes Cannon, vocals, lead and rhythm guitars; Brother John Kattke, keyboards; Pete Galanis, electric and acoustic rhythm guitar; Larry Williams, bass; and Melvin “Pookie Stix” Carlisle, drums. All of the songs were written by Cannon.
Cannon is both a great songwriter and story-teller. The album opens with “The Pain Around Me”. Cannon declares “six kids on the corner up to no damn good…this is what I see.” The song ends with the sound of an approaching police car’s siren. Cannon’s stinging guitar perfectly compliments his story.
On “Bad Contract” the story goes “I signed a bad contract, the house was mine, now she has the key…only got half back”. More about relationships; “Walk It Off”, contains the lyric “I don’t know if my baby is his or mine…there he was with my woman on the living room floor, I pulled my knife, he pulled his gun….that’s The Chicago Way”. A man learns how to survive. “Jealous Love”, she “smelled me twice when I come home to see if perfume is mixed with my cologne…”
On both “Fine Seasoned Woman” and “Midlife Crisis” Cannon is joined by a horn section consisting of Doug Corcoran, trumpet; Steve Eisen, tenor sax; and Robert Collazo, baritone sax. The horn arrangement is from Kattke. Cannon takes a fabulous guitar solo on the former. On the later Cannon sings “woke up this morning feeling kinda strange, some of you might feel the same, looked in the mirror, my chest hair was turning grey…turning fifty tryin’ to be 22, havin’ a midlife crisis.”
“When Will You Tell Him About Me?” is the most poignant song on the album. Cannon’s clear vocal is both passionate and sensitive.
Cannon learned the blues The Chicago Way. In his words “respect where the blues came from, love what the blues is doing for you, let the blues bring us together, right on!!!!”