Review: 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

Text: Pascal Wilhelm

Modern blues at his creative best (not my quote), but oh so true. The opening song of this record (I can’t fix the world – I have to play these blues) immediately shows what we are dealing with here: a genuine string bending hard-hitting original bluesman from the windy city.

All 12 on this record being originals, I think it is a hit.

Born in 1968, Toronzo has slowly been building up his career since 2007, started playing guitar when his sister gave him one for his 22nd birthday (although Toronzo’s website states that he bought it himself) and writing songs about his life and what he sees happening in the world around him.

“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.”

Shut up and play! is his sixth album, earlier releases were My woman, Leaving Mood, John the Conqueror Root, The Chicago Way, and The Preacher, the Politician or the Pimp, the latter two being highly regarded by England’s Mojo Magazine (#1 Best blues album in 2016, #2 Best blues album in 2019, respectively).

His first musical explorations were in reggae, but growing up close to Theresa’s lounge, one of Chicago’s most famous South Side Blues Clubs, the blues was never far away.

Being a modern bluesman, Toronzo also transposes his lyrics to the times we live in. For example, in Message to my daughter, he touches upon what divorce means for children, and in Him he sings about what influence a former partner can still have in a new relationship.

In his own words, he didn’t choose the blues, the blues choose him to become what he is now. And man, he can bend a string, Toronzo will grab you by the short hairs, for sure. Go see him.

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

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”