Member Jack Richardson Hall of Fame
London Music Awards Blues/R&B Artist of the Year 2012
Best Live Canadian Blues Album 2012 - Blues Underground
The Great Willy Mammoth cd is voted one of the Top Twenty
Canadian Blues Albums of 2011 by the fans - Blind Lemon Blues
I received Bill Durst's newest album "Live", a few weeks back and
I must say that I really can't get enough of this great Blues Rockin'
masterpiece. It is absolutely great from beginning to end and
certainly one of the most entertaining Live albums I have listened
to, so far, in 2012, and believe it or not, the album was recording
without even Bill Durst or the band being aware of that fact tell
the next day. So basically what you hear, on "Live", is Bill playing
the way he always plays live, and that is simply like a big old pile
of steaming Guitar awesomeness.
Bill Durst has long been considered one of the best guitar players, singers, and even entertainers, in the world, with over 100 songs to his credit and extensive touring throughout the planet. Recently he received the coveted London Music Award for Best R&B/Blues Artist of the Year. His previous release, The Great Willy Mammoth, was declared one of Canada's Best Blues Albums for 2011 by Blind Lemon News, something you will have no problem understanding why, after you start listening to "Live".
Bill Durst achieved early career success with his band, Thundermug, whom released their debut album THUNDERMUG STRIKES in 1972 of which their song "Africa" proved to be a huge success and quickly propelled them to headliner status. In the mid 80's, Bill Durst branched off a bit with a side gig which was referred to as “the biggest bar band in Canada”, named Tres Hombres, a ZZ Top clone band. Looking at the cover photo on his album "Live", you will notice that Bill Durst has quite a beard; well now you know when he started growing it.
"Live" consists of 10 Tracks of what has been called "a candid and unpretentious view into the hearts of the musicians", which with Bill Durst (Guitar/Lead Vocals), also included Corey Thompson on Drums, and Paul Loeffelholz on Bass and Backing Vocals. 7 of the Tracks are originals that were co-written by Bill Durst and high school friend and Thundermug compatriot, Joe DeAngelis. For the covers on "Live", they played 3 great ones, Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster" & "I Want To Be Loved" and Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues". Those were 3 songs that they absolutely nailed with their live performance.
As for favorites on "Live', ain't going to do, as this album has favorite paint balled all over each and every song as Bill and the band offer up the truest of Blues Rock gems, from start to finish.
I really had not heard of Bill Durst until now, and boy oh boy what a great intro "Live" was, to this amazing artist. Can't wait to explore some of his previous work and super looking forward to more from Bill and company in the hopefully near future.
Those of you whom love their Blues Rock in a fashion similar to good old ZZ Top, will absolutely love, "Live".
For Blues Rock or Rockin Blues, "Live" enthusiastically gets my highest rating of 5*****.
Highly Recommended and Really Thoroughly Enjoyed.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
“Stand back, because I’m gonna hit it heavier,” he insists. “There’s gonna be
some meat on these bones and a sturdy, punchy, kick-ass tone.
” At 60, London, Ont.’s Durst is one of the unsung heroes of the Canadian blues scene, a guitarist, singer and songwriter who deftly borrows from various periods and styles of the blues tradition. He puts it all together with unapologetic exuberance, finding particular finesse with a steel slide.
You can hear it right from the opening moments of River, from The Great Willy Mammoth, his last album. The lyrics urge us to take anger, prejudice and hate and “throw away the weight of the world” as the jangling power chords of his guitar and a rowdy groove drives home those sentiments. And that’s only the first track.
Durst has little sympathy for the ethos of purity, underlined in his eclectic approach.
“As Buddy Guy put it, ‘the blues is a mutt.’
” While his albums take in varied shades of rockin’ blues, electric and acoustic, the consistent thread is a depth of feeling.
“I have always loved the power of the real heavy blues stuff,” Durst says. “For a long time I couldn’t understand why more blues bands weren’t more powerful. Why not? In Robert Johnson I heard a spectacular symphonic attempt by one man doing some complicated guitar. Muddy Waters made me realize it was entirely possible.”
After following such examples for more than 40 years now, winning his own share of notoriety in groups like Ontario’s Thundermug, and opening for everyone from John Mayall to Sly Stone, Durst’s earthy eccentricity may be ripe for wider attention. You can decide for yourself when he hits Blue On Whyte all this week.
As a kid growing up in Wingham and then London, Ont., he took after other family members and started piano at seven. Then the Beatles, the Yardbirds and the rest of the British Invasion showed up, and lightning struck with Jimi Hendrix. Like thousands of others Durst was converted to rock, to researching the blues that inspired it, and to electric guitar at 12. Seeing B.B. King in Toronto at 16 was the final epiphany.
At the time he was playing in a local rhythm and blues revue, complete with horns. When Durst and some other players realized they could make it on their own they left to found a blues-rock unit in 1969, the group that was later named Thundermug. By the time he turned 20 they even had the No. 1 record in London and a developing fan base across Eastern Canada. Their first hit single, Africa, actually sold 20,000 copies in Detroit.
Thundermug had several incarnations, as a quartet and then trio during the 1970s on labels like Epic and Axe, only to regroup for most of the 1990s and another string of chart hits. Durst feels they remained true to their original interest in rock and all things R&B and the notion of forging their own path.
“If you’re not going to do anything different why bother?”
A sojourn with a ZZ Top tribute band in the ’80s inspired Durst to grow the thick beard he still sports today. In among seven Thundermug albums he also put out his first two solo releases in the mid-’80s, but it wasn’t really until the early 2000s that Durst got some real career momentum with his own band and a disc of favourite covers called The Wharncliffe Sessions (2005), and then with his all-original set The Great Willy Mammoth (2009). That title song is a “joke on myself” and the long braided beard that’s part of his look.
Right now he’s hyped over a new live album the band will have out by mid-summer, but you can hear a few of the new tunes, older hits and imaginative cover interpretations when Durst’s touring power trio (with Calgary bassist Cam Dougall and Ontario drummer Justin Burgess) join him for a return visit to Blue On Whyte.
Durst’s trio plays the Commercial Hotel venue from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Blues coming soon
Blues On Whyte hosts Russell Jackson June 18 to 23, and a return visit from Jack De Keyzer June 25 to 30.
But remember to mark your calendar for Sunday, July 8 when the Commercial marks a “Celebration Of The Century.” Yes, the hotel turns 100, complete with an all-day street party that will close off Whyte Avenue between 103rd and 104th streets and a long list of live performers, including Boogie Patrol, E.C. Scott and others.
- ROGER LEVESQUE, EDMONTONJOURNAL.COM JUNE 13, 2012
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
guest this week is London Music Hall of Famer Bill Durst.
After driving in from his St. Marys-area home, Durst sang and played River, the opening track of his new CD The Great Willy Mammoth. Durst, 57, is in prime blues-rock-roots-Durst form.
He launches The Great Willy Mammoth on Saturday with a 19-and-up show at the Music Hall Lounge, 185 Queens Ave.
The album was five years in the making, with perils and joys detailed on Durst's website. His old Thundermug bandmate Joe DeAngelis, as co-writer, helped Durst create the album's tunes, including the hilarious spoof autobiographical title track. The moods vary. Cafe on the Gaspe is just as much fun as River is serious.
The unplugged style Durst uses on the lfpress.com video is a little unusual for this London guitar hero. Still, all Mammoth songs were created by Durst and DeAngelis using an acoustic guitar.
Durst's guitar heroics can be traced to the June, 1966 night at the old London Arena when he heard Toronto's R&B soul masters the Rogues (or the Five Rogues and later the Mandala) with the Byrds as headliners. Rogues's guitarist Domenic Troiano blasted off a note using a fuzztone, something Durst had never experienced.
"It just screamed . . . (it went) right up my spine," Durst recalls. "Dammit, that's what I'm doing" Durst decided that night.
By the 1970s, Durst, DeAngelis, drummer Ed Pranskus and bassist Jim Corbett were in Thundermug, blasting out the hits. Years later, they briefly reunited for their induction into the London Music Hall of Fame.
"This is a 'do anything for the love of art' story. The musicians performances on the CD are beautiful, continuous, spontaneous and inspired. Thank you musicians and producer Darren Morrison," Durst says of the five-year journey to Mammoth's completion. - James Reaney - London Free Press
Bill Durst may very well be the closest thing to a bona fide musical
living legend that our sleepy would-be metropolis has ever seen.
From international chart success with his truly amazing band
Thundermug to the many solo albums he has issued since, he has never
given over to posturing of any kind and has stood his ground firmly
regarding his music, personal identity and independence. The Great
Willy Mammoth is an impressive effort indeed, with Durst laying down
fine and effortlessly sure performances with his gritty Rio Grande
Mud vocals and bear-down-heard six-string work that will leave no
doubt that the fire has not only definite not gone out here but in
fact may be heating up more than a degree or two. Recommended.
- Rob Nicholson (Scene Magazine)
For years, or more accurately decades, Bill
Durst has been considered by many to be Southwestern Ontario's most
accomplished guitar player. Durst gained national attention in the
early days of Canadian rock as the lead guitar player and songwriter
for Thundermug, who are best remembered for the single, Africa,
which he co-wrote. The Wharncliffe Sessions is a rock-blues guitar
album that features classic tunes most guitar players know, but few
would dare record. If you are going to release a recording of so
many familiar tunes, you'd better be an exceptional player, and
Durst is exactly that. His versions of Little Wing and Voodoo Child
are worthy of comparison to the originals. Durst's slide-guitar
playing on Statesboro Blues is right on the money and his version of
ZZ Top's, Tube Snake Boogie is a keeper: Drummer Ted Peacock and
bassist Paul Loeffelholtz deserve mention for providing exciting
support as well as keeping the grooves fresh. The Wharncliffe
Sessions is a very strong debut by three of London's most
-Christopher Michaels - Scene Magazine