It's HOT JAZZ!! It's DIXIELAND!! It's SWING!! It's RAGTIME!! AND THE BLUES!! And More!! New Orleans Jazz With Jazzy Three-Part Harmony Vocals & a Hot Band
CanUS is versatile enough to have staged three "Special Feature" shows at Jazz Festivals:
Formed as a quartet in 1991, this highly respected group has performed in three countries: their home, Canada....western and midwestern United States....and Mexico! . Recordings achieve the impossible of hearing Jim Armstrong playing both trumpet and trombone at the same time!
The key to their popularity is being able to select from a vast repertoire to suit the occasion - be it a jazz festival stage or a New Year's Eve dance in their home town of Victoria, B.C., Canada.
Nov. 2002, CanUS performed at the Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts Millennium Stage and their concert is available for you to view on the internet: Go to www.kennedy-center.org/millennium
Support for CanUS was provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada
In the "Mississippi Rag' , Oct. 2001, reviewer Paige Van Vorst states"CanUS is a one-of-a-kind group. They perhaps feature too many vocals for some listeners, but they're having so much fun it rubs off on the listeners. Toni Blodgett has created a group with a sound unlike any other on the scene today, which is a tremendous accomplishment. If you like small group jazz of the 1930's, you should definitely give this one a try."
Mike Broadley - (Trumpet) With the recent move of Jim Armstrong off Vancouver Island to White Rock, B.C. there was a need for a versatile and quick study trumpet player/singer to replace Jim in CanUS. Keeping the repertoire but adding new and interesting music is the goal we have set for Mike Broadley. He's an exciting and highly skilled musician who continues his full time career with Canada's acclaimed Naden Band, the armed forces contribution to Canada and the world. He is a first call trumpet for every kind of music in Victoria and brings enthusiasm that belies his many years of being a professional musician both in Victoria and in Calgary, Alberta. While in Calgary he established a dixieland style band that played the Cannery for many years and hosted many visiting musicians who were playing Calgary. The piece de resistance is that he is a talented singer and is looking forward to adding his voice to the existing trio vocals that are so much of what makes CanUS what it is - truly unique! You will not be disappointed when you hear the 'new' CanUS and we look forward to seeing you at Hermann's Jazz Club when you next visit Victoria.
Toni Blodgett - (Piano) The concept of a group dedicated to the jazzy trio vocals of the 20's and 30's first came to Toni when the members were gathered to sing Christmas carols with friend and singer, Lynne McNeil. The name CanUS acknowledges that the outstanding musicians in the group originate from both sides of the Canadian/U.S. border. Toni previously played ten years with the Dixieland Express Band; she then formed her own group which has had considerable success both at home in Victoria and in jazz festivals throughout the western and midwestern states as well as in Canada and even Mexico! CanUS Hot Jazz Band was voted as the most requested band at the Sun
Valley Jazz Festivals of 2000 and 2003...... and was also the top selling band at festivals in both La Crosse and Madison, Wisconsin. in 2000, Toni was the recipient of Sun Valley's Year "First Lady of Jazz" award, honoring the band's devotion to the arrangments of Connie Boswell and the Boswell Sisters of New Orleans!
Through all this, Toni has retained her love of ragtime and recorded two albums: Heliotrope Bouquet and Stomps, Drags 'n' Rags. She enjoys doing some of the arranging and transcriptions for the band vocals such as for "Me, Myself & I" , Sit Right Down & Write Myself a Letter", "Shine On, Harvest Moon", "When I Take My Sugar To Tea", and "Black-Eyed Susan Brown".
Joey Smith - (Bass) As well as singing in the CanUS vocal
trio, Joey wrote the transcriptions for many songs in the CanUS repertoire
including most of the Boswell Sisters' and Mills Bros'arrangements.
Joey originates from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and after two years of touring as bassist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, he received a Masters Degree in Music at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. Joey came to Victoria with the Glenn Miller Orchestra show, but love took him off the road to wedded bliss with his Diane and fortunately for us all, they settled here in Victoria! He was, therefore, the U.S. part of CanUS in the original quartet!
He is now settled in Victoria, B.C. as a full time musician, teacher and arranger. He is the busiest musician in the city, working with a diverse cross-section of musical styles, and also recording & touring with Marc Atkinson Trio which has received accolades from throughout North America.
After a stint of two years working aboard the Princess Cruise Lines, Joey has returned to Victoria and is again the bassist for CanUS. In addition to playing bass, Joey sings one of the three harmony parts.
An oustanding musician, arranger and teacher at Victoria Conservatory of Music Joey is without doubt Victoria's most revered musician. He plays in every musical venue there is with a variety of bands and styles. He has played bass in theater productions and concerts with such stars as John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, Houston Person, and many others over the years. He has written an arrangement for symphony and jazz trio, "Tribute to Louis Armstrong" in which he has also performed.
Don Leppard - (Drums) A retired military band leader and arranger, after 25 years in Canada's RCAF, Don settled down to live in Victoria as a musician and contractor. He recorded for CBC and CTV and received his certificate of arranging from the Berklee School of Music. His professionalism is evident in the variety of styles he confidently performs and although he is the only non-singer in the group, he makes a valuable "vocal" contribution in the introduction of "Diga Diga Doo". He receives more respect, however, for his jazz oriented DON LEPPARD BIG BAND and for such projects as recording sound tracks for TV shows currently filming in Vancouver and Victoria.Doug Rhodes (Alto and Soprano Saxophones)) Doug grew up near Disneyland and, in fact, played his first trad jazz gig with his piano player brother, Robbie. He also sat in with the 'South Frisco Jazz Band', an experience he never forgot. He spent 5 years as a studio bass and keyboard player in Hollywood (you can hear his celeste on The Association's "Cherish" which is still heard world wide in elevators and dentist offices!) and also toured the U.S. with the rock group Music Machine promoting their hit, "Talk, Talk". Don't let that scare you, however. His love of trad jazz is what prevailed in the end. After a move to Canada, his time now is divided between CanUS and leading a 1920's hot dance orchestra, 'The Belvedere Broadcasters'
Tom Ackerman - (Saxophones & Clarinet)Tom was born in Hollywood, California and began tap dancing and playing the clarinet at age 6. He was at that time a member of a "family act" Dixieland Band called the "Stoplights and their Go-Go Jazz" called "The youngest and hottest Dixieland Jazz Band this side of the Mason-Dixon line!" They were performing at many local jazz clubs in Los Angeles as well as at Disneyland, the U.S.O. Club and on the famed "Ted Mack Amateur Hour" television show. His mom was a "Vaudeville" dancer and his dad in the movie business, and who's claim to fame was moving the lion's tail in "The Wizard of Oz"!
Tom studied music with Lennie Neihaus who played lead alto with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. He then moved to Honolulu Hawaii in 1975 and became a member of the famed Bay Area big band, the Del Courtney Orchestra playing "Tea Dances" at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Tom also worked in several other bands at Honolulu's famed Jazz Club, Trappers and Nick's Fishmarket in Waikiki and also graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1981.
Moving out of Hawaii in 1990 landed Tom in Washington D.C. where he worked with "Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra" a "hot" 1920's style orchestra performing all around the East coast. In 1992, he began a 10 year career as bandleader for Princess Cruises where he met his Canadian bride Sarah! Now residing in Victoria, Tom has worked with every group in Victoria which is almost not an exaggeration. His heavy teaching schedule is also a testament to his popularity with educators and young musicians
Although he is capable of playing any style of music, he is meticulous in staying close to the Benny Goodman sound for CanUS. A great addition to the band!
Over the past 20 years, CanUS has remained amazingly stable with only three other musicians being a part of the band: Everett Atchison** replaced Joey Smith on bass during the years that Joey worked on the cruise ships. During that same time, Doug Rhodes was brought into the band to sing Joey's third part harmony and was also able to add his playing of saxophones to the group.
When Everett retired from the bass position, Nathan Gage joined CanUS bringing a fresh and young energy to the group! But as Nathan moved to Montreal where he operates his own music store, Joey Smith returned to playing bass.
In 2005 we have had the good fortune to have Tom Ackerman move to Victoria from Los Angeles ...along with Joey Smith and Doug Rhodes, they form the solid "U.S." portion of CanUS!! Tom adds a second harmony to Doug's reed parts and also adds his abilities on tenor sax and clarinet to make the most versatile front line that the band has had to date. As the late Tom Rippey (from Seattle's P.S.T.J.S.) stated: "..a new version, maybe, but still a hot band with a swinging rhythm section and a great front line! Wonderful vocals and the most diversified book of music in the business. I'd hire them anytime for anything!"
And lastly, in 2011 the band has seen Jim Armstrong move out of the area and has welcomed Mike Broadley as trumpet player and singer in his place.
CanUS - a joyous sound and entertaining musicality that elicits admiration from other musicians as well as their legions of fans!
Check out their recorded library of 8 acclaimed CD's by going to Our CD's
You can find out where they play in their home city of Victoria, B.C. Where we're playing
For booking information contact: Toni Blodgett, 555 View Royal Ave., Victoria, B.C., CANADA V9B 1B9, Phone: (250)479-8861 or Fax: (250)744-4402, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org