Toronzo Cannon – Shut Up And Play!


Toronzo Cannon - Shut Up And Play!

Toronzo Cannon – Shut Up And Play!
Format: CD – Vinyl LP – Digital
Label: Alligator Records
Release: 2024

Release date: June 7, 2024

Alligator Records will release ‘Shut Up And Play!.’ The long-awaited new album from award-winning, world-beloved Chicago bluesman Toronzo Cannon

With his richly detailed, truth-telling original songs, blistering, inventive guitar work and impassioned vocals, Cannon is on the cutting edge of today’s contemporary blues scene, and is known as one of the genre’s most creative artists. His sound is inspired by his heroes, including Hound Dog Taylor, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Albert King, Son Seals and Jimi Hendrix. On Shut Up And Play!, Cannon blazes his own path with 11 emotionally-charged originals. From serious to humorous, his imaginative songs are fueled by his powerful, cathartic guitar solos and his soulfully authoritative voice.

Shut Up And Play! was co-produced by Cannon and Alligator president Bruce Iglauer. The album finds Cannon, a former Chicago Transit Authority bus driver, delivering timeless stories of common experiences, often unfolding in uncommon ways. His passionate and focused guitar playing sets his lyrics ablaze. From the first radio single, the attention-grabbing I Hate Love, to the gospel-inspired, autobiographical Had To Go Through It To Get To It, to the slow-burning, reflective Guilty, to the deeply personal Message To My Daughter, Shut Up And Play! tackles the gamut of human emotions. Song subjects range from the heartbreak of lost love, to the humor of daily life, to the pain of feeling invisible in today’s society, all as seen through Cannon’s wide-open eyes.

Shut Up And Play! is bookended by two of Cannon’s most striking compositions, both a mirror of the times. The opener, the exuberantly performed blues scorcher Can’t Fix The World, shines a light on hypocrisy and duplicity, while unleashing dynamic, memorable guitar solos echoing the intensity of the vocals. The closer, Shut Up And Play!, takes a deep look inside, as Cannon vents his anger at being told to keep his opinions about the world to himself. As the defiant vocals command attention, Cannon’s frustrations pour into every note. Chicago’s New City declared, “Toronzo Cannon spins the innate human capacity of misery and regret into a kind of furious ecstasy.”

“I write what I know, what I feel,” Cannon says, “I like to put myself in the shoes of the subjects of my songs. This record is about the things going on in my life since 2019—it’s a document of what I’ve seen and been through, but the stories are universal. And it’s my way to get past negative things and keep my own sanity. Listen to the lyrics. I am a Black man in America. These are NOT protest songs. I try to create honest, common sense understanding with my songs.”

Cannon has been nominated for ten Blues Music Awards, and, as his fan base expands, so do his friendships with famous musicians. Gary Clark, Jr. declared, “Toronzo is a beast. He lights the room up,” and Joe Bonamassa rightly pronounced, “Toronzo’s a great guitar player, excellent vocalist and an amazing personality.”

Cannon has performed at clubs and festivals at major cities all over the U.S. and continues to bring his music directly to his fans. He’s toured Canada, the UK, made his way across Europe and even to Japan. He has played the Chicago Blues Festival on ten separate occasions, bringing tens of thousands of his fellow Chicagoans to their feet. His live performances unfailingly earn him heaps of critical praise and hordes of wildly enthusiastic new fans. “Listen to a master bluesman at work,” declared the UK’s Blues & Rhythm magazine. “This is modern blues at its creative best.”

Now, with Shut Up And Play!, Toronzo Cannon delivers his songs with purpose and passion. “It’s not about the solos,” says the man whose blazing guitar work continues to impress, “it’s about the songs. People get used to everyday life, so it’s easy to miss the things around them. I know the problems of Chicago, the hardships. I write about those things. But I love my city, warts and all. I grew up here. It molded me and gave me the people and places I know and love. And it produced the Chicago blues giants that came here from down south. I’m proud to be from Chicago and to be able to stand on the shoulders of every great Chicago blues musician who came before me.”

All the attention he’s received only makes Cannon more focused. “I feel like I’ve become an ambassador for Chicago blues. People expect a lot from me,” he says. “But it’s good, because I’m forced to keep upping my game.” And like all the Chicago greats who have come before him, blues is his life’s calling. “You don’t choose the blues,” he says. “The blues chooses you.”


01. Can’t Fix The World 4:15
02. I Hate Love 4:27
03. Him 4:44
04. Had To Go Through It To Get To It 3:54
05. Something To Do Man 4:08
06. Message To My Daughter 5:47
07. Unlovable 3:28
08. Guilty 4:07
09. Got Me By The Short Hairs 3:44
10. My Woman Loves Me Too Much 3:48
11. If I’m Always Wrong 3:55
12. Shut Up And Play! 5:58

Toronzo Cannon: Guitars, Vocals, Percussion and Handclaps
Brian Quinn: Electric and Upright Bass
Cole DeGenova: Piano, Organ, Nord and Clavinet
Jason “Jroc” Edwards: Drums
Phillip “Dante” Burgess, Jr.: Drums on “Him” and “Had To Go Through It”
Matthew Skoller: Harmonica on “My Woman Loves Me Too Much”