Blue Turning Gray
With a resume that reads like a who's who of 20th century entertainment, consummate performer Chick Roberts is a veteran of theatre, film and the Canadian music scene. Born Evan Hugh Roberts, and raised by Welsh parents in Toronto's Cabbagetown, Chick Roberts received his earliest musical training singing in choirs such as the Toronto Welsh Male Choir. He was first bitten by the blues as a teenager, when he proudly purchased his first '78, 'How Long,How Long Blues.' He then went on to sing with a show band performing imitations of Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Rushing, Billy Eckstine, Wynonie Harris and Frankie Laine, to name a few. In 1956, Chick moved to England to build on the amateur drama and performance training he began in Toronto. However, he was soon sidetracked by movie and television acting jobs, among the first, a role in Charlie Chaplin's 'A King in New York.' He moved on to form one half of a comedy duo appearing on WelshTV and performed as an emcee and comedian before returning to North America to resume his musical career. In the early 60s, with his newly minted stage name in hand, Chick Roberts performed around Canada & the USA as a solo folk artist, and with Amos Garrett, Jim McCarthy and Carol Robinson as The Dirty Shames. Primarily a Jug/String Band, they performed an eclectic variety of songs from the country, blues, jazz and pop repertoires. Come 1965, Chick and The Dirty Shames moved to New York to cut several records on the Phillips label (sadly, never released in Canada). Following Jim McCarthy's departure, the Shames enlarged the band by adding Bass, Piano and drums and became the regular band at Andy Warhol's club 'The Dom' and openers for The Velvet Underground at the 'The Gymnasium.' In 1968, the Shames disbanded and Chick Roberts returned to Canada. A devoted member of the folk music community, he became one of the organizers of the Mariposa Folk Festival and helped start Mariposa In The Schools (MITS). For twenty five years, he used his talents as a raconteur, singer, guitarist, and all-around crowd pleaser to tour schools,libraries,festivals and bring Jug Band and Blues workshops to children across Ontario. His performaces can be heard on all three albums produced by MITS. Ever adapting his musical style, Chick Roberts continued to perform blues, country and rock from 1970 onward with the Blues Collar Band. As venues and audiences for their music evolved so did they evolve their material, introducing swing and jazz to their blues sound and changing the band name to'The Lowdown Ways Band.' So it came to pass, that when the opportunity arose to record a CD with his long time musical cohort, Tony Quarrington, they decided to draw material from their blues and jazz repertoire. The resulting record, Blue Turning Gray, pays homage to Chick's vocal idols, and tips it's hat to longtime musical accomplices and new friends.
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