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The debut solo album from Toronto guitarist Chris Antonik is a diverse, soulful and tightly executed blend of classic guitar blues and original, innovative, contemporary blues-rock. After thrilling audiences in Toronto blues clubs as a sideman, Antonik has stepped out on his own to deliver this self-produced collection of original material and two classic blues covers.

The album “Chris Antonik” is a portrait of a maturing blues guitarist and songwriter who fully grasps the importance of song over solo - while still leaving plenty for guitar fans to enjoy. The songs deal with repairing relationships and giving back to those around you, as well as classic blues themes delivered in modern vehicles. Using the guitarist–as–front man approach and a variety of guest vocalists, the record is a solid collection of soulful, strong and smart blues. Guest performers include some of Chris’ friends from the Canadian blues scene, including Mark Stafford, Suzie Vinnick and Richard Underhill.Chris Antonik

The primary vocalist and keyboardist on the record is the gritty and stirring Josh Williams of the jam band Fat Cats. Bassist Andrew Taylor (The Blazers) and drummer Chris Chiarelli provide the tight and funky rhythm section.

From the jump, “More to Give” gets the record moving with a kinetic, Hammond-soaked groove. The track is about learning from the mistakes of the past, having more to offer to the ones you love, and is filled with blues-rock guitar momentum that pays respect to early 70’s Clapton.

The album swiftly moves into the stripped-down blues funk of “Roll with It,” where Antonik channels his slide guitar heroes. A vintage dobro provides a country-blues contrast to the deep pulse of an urban, almost hip-hop-like drum beat - a contrast that mimics the song’s theme of just going with what comes our way.

“The King of Infidelity,” a narrative about the consequences of unfaithfulness, marries melodic song-craft with blues-slinger inclinations. With its blues-pop sensibility, Infidelity pays homage to late 80’s adult contemporary blues albums, such as Clapton’s “Journeyman” and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “In Step,” as well as the recent “Continuum” from John Mayer. Maple Blues award-winning artist Suzie Vinnick provides rich and alluring back-up vocals to shadow Josh Williams’ ardent lead vocals and retro Rhodes piano.

Veteran blues harmonica player and singer Mark “bird” Stafford then jumps in on “If We Start from Here,” an upbeat, no-nonsense call for reparation delivered as a double-shuffle blues number.

The record peaks with a cover of Jerry Ragovoy’s “She’s a Burglar,” popularized in 1974 by guitarist Freddie King. Antonik pays tribute to his hero, with King-inspired guitar playing complemented by some of the most sought-after horn players in the business: Juno-award winner Richard Underhill, Perry White (the Shuffle Demons) and William Sperandei (Colin James).

A cover of Otis Rush’s minor key classic “Double Trouble” features Chris making his lead-vocal debut (pointing to future growth in this area for the evolving guitarist). Trouble also features in-demand Toronto musician Geoff Daye (Sue Foley, Danny Marks) on Hammond organ and piano.

The album was produced by Antonik, recorded at Audiolab Recording Company in Toronto, and mixed and mastered at Silverbirch Productions in Toronto.

In October 2010, Chris was nominated for a 2010 Maple Blues Award in the “Best New Artist” category on the strength of the debut album. The Maple Blues Awards recognize achievement in blues music in Canada.

Upon its release, the album “Chris Antonik” debuted on the Roots Music Report international blues radio play charts at #35. It was also one of two independent albums in the top 50. This charting was the result of significant airplay in Canada, the US and worldwide on blues radio stations/shows. In addition, for the week of September 24, 2010, the album was ranked #4 for Canadian roots music radio play (Roots Music Report).

In Canada, the album has been played on Holger Peterson's "Saturday Night Blues" on CBC Radio 1, "Fresh Air" on CBC Radio 2, BLUZ FM with Danny Marks, Galaxie TV/Satellite Radio, Sunday Morning Soul with Johnny Max, “At the Crossroads” with Brant Zwicker, and DAWG 101.9 FM (Ottawa).

In addition to radio play in the US, the album “Chris Antonik” has also received play in the following countries: France, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, the UK, Poland, Croatia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Macedonia and Denmark.

The record has received a number of highly positive reviews by prominent reviewers in Canada, the US and the UK, including one in BLUES MATTERS, the UK's top blues music magazine (see BLOG above for press quotes).

In the fall of 2010, Chris was interviewed by: Ottawa's CKCU FM, New York City's "Sounds of Blue" radio show (with esteemed American blues radio man Bob Putignano), and the "American Blues Blog" web site.

In September 2010, the International Song Writing Competition named the song "Roll with It" as a co-winner of the "Myspace Crank Your Cred" award for September 2010. This means the song is a semi-finalist for best blues song in the annual competition in April 2011.
On stage, in addition to supporting the new album with the Chris Antonik Band, Chris also plays in a stripped-down, old-school Chicago blues trio with Mark “bird” Stafford and guitarist Pete Schmidt (Mel Brown, Jack Dekeyzer). In 2010, Chris also shared the stage with Juno-winning guitarist Darran Poole (Fathead, Gary Kendall) as part of a similar trio.