|Canadian bands have long held onto a more muscular Midwestern aesthetic when it comes to straight ahead blues & rock. Toronto-based quartet, Jim Dan Dee, carries that spirit forward picking up the torch of groups like Foghat, Pat Travers, Rory Gallagher, George Thorogood, and Canned Heat to name a few, who reimagined the works of the original blues pioneers into a heavier, riff-oriented sound and feel.
Led by the group’s namesake, Jim “Dan Dee” Stefanuk (Steff-an-uk), whose soulful baritone voice and gritty vintage guitar tone blaze the trail while the rock-solid rhythm section of drummer Shawn “Stix” Royal and Dwayne “Gameshow” Lau (La-ow) on bass, drive the bus, and the energetic saxophone of Jason “Bobby” Sewerynek (Sue-war-neck) weaves in and out of the melody and the guitar lines adding spice and dynamic support to the sizzling song selection. The band’s sophomore full-length album, Real Blues, is a selection of ten new originals and a heartfelt cover of a blues classic – their “bluesiest” songs from their “Covid Amassed” catalog – that has built them a strong fan base in the Provinces and a firm foothold to introduce them to a worldwide audience.
Eddie Jones, better known as Guitar Slim, was a New Orleans blues guitarist best known for writing “The Things That I Used to Do,” which Stefanuk and Jim Dan Dee take quite seriously while paying tribute to the late great master with the opening cover of the million-selling blues standard. The story of late-night bar room shenanigans, “Weep For Me,” follows as a fun-loving dance floor swinger. The title track, “Real Blues,” is a deep dive into the emotional landscape of melancholy, loss, and despair, punctuated by mournful sax and swirling guitar. “Two Timing Woman” mixes up greasy slide guitar, rumbling bari sax and a New Orleans street beat into a fiery gumbo groover. Jim’s scorching lead guitar brings us into the slinky blues grinder “The Doctor,” and features much of his flamboyant fret work. Rock ‘n’ roll dreams and malt shop wishes fuel the joyous track “Two Shakes Of A Lamb’s Tail” and its retro radio vibe. The Delaware Destroyers styled rocker “Bleed Me Dry,” is the album’s lead single, demonstrating the band’s guitar and sax attack and sing along hook writing skills.
The fellas get grungy on the brooding “Hang ‘Em High,” dishing out some Seattle style acid rock like it was 1995, and the bump and grind blues, “T For Trouble,” could be a lost track from the Electric Mud sessions. The inventive swing of “Lost In The Dark,” shows off more of the tandem assault of guitar and sax honed by Stefanuk and Sewerynek that has become the band’s signature sonic. The cautionary tale of encounters with some shady characters set to a swampy boogie, “Money Don’t Work On The Devil,” closes the set on a stylish high note.
Rick J Bowen
The name “Jim Dan Dee” comes from the expression “Everything is just Jim Dandy”, an old cliché often used with expletives inserted. Jim Dan Dee (affectionately known as ‘J.D.D.’ by their fans) is not only a blues band, but also a character; an idea that embodies the spirit of the music and Jim Stefanuk’s frontman persona. On stage Jim’s intensity is like a man possessed, his soulful baritone voice juxtaposed against cutting vintage guitar tones. Tying the melodies together is the silky-smooth saxophone of Bobby Sewerynek, veteran horn player and former big band session player. The backbeat is solidly held down by Dwayne Lau’s growling basslines and Shawn Royal’s unmistakably solid meter and slick groove. When you see Jim Dan Dee, you get it, and their electric energy on-stage will leave you craving more.
Upon the release of their first EP “Five Stiff Shots”, JDD’s talent and hard work paid off when they were selected to play WTFest. They shared the main stage with such famous Canadian Rock icons as Big Wreck, I Mother Earth and The Trews. This opportunity helped expose the group to a bigger fanbase and make some new friends in the industry. The band continued to push their music through extensive touring, gigging at all levels from the grungiest clubs to major festivals like TD JazzFest, NXNE and CMW. Jim Dan Dee became a live-music-machine, and before they knew it, they had over one hundred shows under their belt.
Enter Canadian legend and icon Jeff Martin (The Tea Party). Jeff had taken notice of the band, especially their song “The Silence,” for which he had some unique ideas. Mr. Martin produced Jim Dan Dee’s first stand-alone single “The Silence,” which was recognized for its originality and legitimate Motown feel. The song and video were great, everybody loved it, but there was still one problem: The people wanted an album.
Two years later and with hundreds of shows under their belts, JDD had amassed a huge catalog of songs with well over sixty original pieces. Many were performed live to gauge crowd reaction, and by 2018 the votes were in and the songs were chosen. The self-titled LP contains a mix of fan-favourites and the songs closest to JDD’s road-worn hearts: songs of struggle, loneliness, love and lust. Yet it is far from a typical blues album – a heavy dose of Motown and just enough gritty rock ‘n’ roll to keep the listener’s heart pumping. The album was launched in October 2018 to rave reviews!
Jim Dan Dee’s sophomore album, titled “Real Blues”, is set to release on May 13, 2022. The album is Jim Dan Dee’s approach to the hundred-year-old blues genre. Selecting their “bluesiest” songs from their “Covid Amassed” catalog, the band have laid down some truly tasty tracks. Destined to catch the ears of industry and fans alike, Jim Dan Dee is set to make an indelible mark on blues in North America and beyond.