André Bisson and the J-Tones: Management Effort and Great Music for Regional And International Gigs

“We hope this will be the first of many tours overseas.”- Loretta Hale
Loretta Hale

Loretta Hale manages the Hamilton blues band André and the J-Tones. I’ve been following the fortunes of the J-Tones for a couple of years now. Things got really interesting last summer when I discovered that the band was planning a tour in the UK. In the ensuing weeks and months the band started an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help raise some extra cash, and then I was glad to see the video blogs of the tour which can be viewed here.

None of this would be happening without some dogged determination and good management, so I gave Hale a call recently to get her perspective on all the activity. “There’s been a lot going on. Between me and André we share the work. I take over the booking and promotion paperwork. Right now we’re applying for the [summer] festivals.”
André Bisson

“We use different sidemen. It’s mainly André’s band. He does all the arrangements and horn parts. Last year we wanted to go on some kind of tour to an English speaking country. The UK and Ireland have always been a dream for our band, to perform in Festivals and the many blues venues overseas to make new friends and spread our Canadian touch to another continent! We hope this will be our first of many tours overseas.”

“Thanks to the good advice of the Hamilton Musicians Guild, I was steered in the right direction to get a work visa in order to work in the UK. After many calls and exchanging of costs, contact information and contracts, we booked a show the Bentworth Blues Festival, Bentworth, Hampshire.”
“No matter where you go, you’re within two hours drive and into another major area, or into the next country. The August 13 through 26 tour shaped up like this. Thursday we played Worcester, Worcestershire, Friday we played in Cardiff, Wales, then drove to Bristol that night and flew to Northern Ireland for a Saturday gig at the Sunflowerfest in Hillsborough, Lisburn.”
Matt Burns (drums) reflects after the show, “The Sunflower Festival gig was fantastic. We killed it. The crowd was insane, the sound was amazing, the drums sounded great, the backline gear was amazing. We had a great time.”

Brad Cheesman (bass) says, “That was probably our best show to date.”

André and the J-Tones
Photography: Marta Hewson
Francis Smith (tenor sax) adds, “The crowd was huge, dancing around us on stage. This is fantastic being over here in Northern Ireland. Everybody wanted to tell us stories. It’s nice to get to meet people at the venues.”
“We headed back to England and played at Bentworth on the Sunday. We were ready for a couple of days off after that!”

“We returned to Ireland in September for a rhythm and blues festival. We visited the Guinness factory. There were about thirty bands playing at various venues in the area, and wherever we went the crowds were fantastic and totally into it.”

Here’s a quote from Florida-based Blues Review website here:

“A refreshingly, alternative musical experience was provided by the Canadian group André and the J-Tones. Not many blues bands have a song list which includes Do You Love Me, On The Road Jack, and I Feel Good. However, a combination of clever arrangements, tasteful guitar work, and exceptionally talented saxophone and trumpet players, contributed to a jazz, pop, and soul fusion sound which the audience loved.”

Hale is enthusiastic about the future. “We’re going back this August.”For the related article about the J-Tones, click here.

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