At the heart of Toronto's Blues Element is song writing duo Jamie Browning and Iain Green. From near polar opposite musical backgrounds (Queen Street West meets the West Indies), they connected musically in 2003 through a mutual love of, and interest in, the Blues. With past musical adventures in the lands of Alternative / Indie Rock, Punk, Goth, Funk, Country, and live EDM / Jungle, Jamie was newly exploring 50's R&B and the Blues with Truly Ruthless, a mostly Ruth Brown tribute band, and Iain joined on drums. Along with the Blues, Iain had also played Caribbean Jazz, Reggae, Top 40, Hip Hop, and Funk, and the pair was soon writing jazzy/bluesy songs together as Blues Element, some of which can be found on “Baby's Got The Blues” (2005) and “Are You Ready” (2008), with both releases receiving international airplay and accolades.
"Baby's Got The Blues" brought together the talents of some of the best players in Toronto's sprawling musical community including Alec Fraser, Rod Phillips, Michael Fonfara, Michael Keith, Dave Powell, Bryan Huntley, & Kenmi Chank. Recorded & mixed in the fall of 2004 at Liquid Toronto with blues maestro Alec Fraser wearing the engineer & producer hats, all 10 tracks on "Baby's Got The Blues" received airplay on jazz & blues programs all over Europe, Australia & North America, as well as in a few spots in Indonesia, South America, Africa & the Middle East.
"Are You Ready" features 12 new original jazzy/blue future standards brought to life at Toronto's Wellesley Sound with Kenmi Chank, Garfield Stoddart, Jason Wilson, Justin Snikkar and Rebecca Campbell rounding out the cast this time. The album was produced by Iain and Jamie, mixed and mastered at Silverbirch Productions, and has followed BGTB to radio worldwide.
Blues Element’s 3rd independent release “Halfway Home” features stellar performances by alumni Bryan Huntley and Jason Wilson, plus new-to-the-Blues-Element-family Tim Bovaconti, Marcus Ali, and Zaynab Wilson. Recorded and mixed at The Rogue Music Lab by James Paul and mastered by João at João Carvalho Mastering, the album travels a sometimes funky, rocky, alternative path, but all in all, itʼs a rootsy route that eventually brings the listener back home to the Blues through themes of forgiveness, karma, redemption, loss, and discovery. You'll forget to ask "Are we there yet." as sonic detours from their past, present and future creative journeys join the elements of Blues and Jazz already in the scenery.
The detours came about mostly as a result of Blues Element being mostly on hiatus as a live entity for the last few years, and Jamie and Iain getting their live music jollies elsewhere. With Blues and Jazz no longer their main focus it also became less of an influence, as once again it was Punk meets Soca, Alt-Rock meets Reggae, and Country meets Calypso, with some Celtic music, Top 40, Jazz, and Blues, including Blues Element, together and separately, included for balance. Even with the Blues as a starting point, some songs chose not to follow the map; little bits of other things naturally found their way into their songwriting, which is something that didn't go on hiatus, despite the distractions.
For the Jazz and Blues lovers reading this, Down That Way, New Year's Eve Blues, Little Circles, Don't Tell Me, and cover song *The Love Contest * are for you.
Other tunes have shades of funk, rock and country: Far From Home, Never Should Have Ever, and Man Is Gone.
Floating out there a little further still, in one direction or another: All Your Life, Of All the Mysteries, 2 Little, 2 Late, and title track Halfway Home.
*To pay homage to the duo's origins, "Halfway Home" includes the previously unreleased cover track The Love Contest, originally recorded as part of the “Baby's Got The Blues” sessions with Alec Fraser in 2004. Treated to a new vocal arrangement by Jamie and a new mix by James Paul during sessions for the new album, The Love Contest has been in Jamie's repertoire since Truly Ruthless, and is still a favourite at Blues jams.
Many songs were written since the release of “Are You Ready”, but some were more demanding than others in their insistence to be heard. The 11 original songs on “Halfway Home” are the ones that Jamie and Iain both ended up agreeing on, with apologies to anyone needing to quickly define or slot the lot somewhere specific. But, as you may know if you've heard their first 2 releases or seen them perform live, Blues Element has always had somewhat blurry edges where genre is concerned. In fact, if you peer into the future youʼll see Jamie and Iainʼs new live band, complete with even blurrier, but also edgier, edges.
Live Blues Element continues to be an evolving entity, but the show always includes a fun, sexy & very danceable mix of original tunes plus mid 20th century R&B, funk, blues, & jazz. Artists covered include Dinah Washington, Ruth Brown, James Brown, Louis Jordan & more.