Toronzo Cannon "Shut Up & Play"

Sat. Jul 13, 2024 at 8:00pm EDT
21 and Over
21 and Over
  • Get Tickets
  • Details
  • Comments
Event Stats
21 and Over
Event Description
Toronzo Cannon "Shut Up & Play"

The Cave presents

Toronzo Cannon "Shut Up & Play"

Saturday, July 13, 2024 8pm, 7pm Doors

$25.00 ($29.25 w/online fee)

"I want my songs to be heard and experienced, not just listened to," says cliché-defying, internationally beloved Chicago bluesman Toronzo Cannon. With his richly detailed, truth-telling original songs, blistering, inventive guitar work and impassioned vocals, Cannon is on the cutting edge of today's contemporary blues scene and is known as one of the genre's most creative artists. His sound is inspired by his heroes, including Hound Dog Taylor, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Albert King, Son Seals and Jimi Hendrix. On his third Alligator Records album, Shut Up And Play!, Cannon blazes his own path with 11 emotionally-charged originals. From serious to humorous, his imaginative songs are fueled by his powerful, cathartic guitar solos and his soulfully authoritative voice. 

Shut Up And Play!, co-produced by Cannon and Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, finds Cannon, a former Chicago Transit Authority bus driver, delivering timeless stories of common experiences, often unfolding in uncommon ways. His passionate and focused guitar playing sets his lyrics ablaze. From the first radio single, the unassailable I Hate Love, to the gospel-inspired, autobiographical Had To Go Through It To Get To It, to the slow-burning, reflective Guilty, to the deeply personal Message To My Daughter, Shut Up And Play! tackles the gamut of human emotions. Song subjects range from the heartbreak of lost love, to the humor of daily life, to the pain of feeling invisible in today's society, all as seen through Cannon's wide-open eyes. 

Shut Up And Play! is bookended by two of Cannon's most striking compositions, both a mirror of the times. The opener, the exuberantly performed blues scorcher Can't Fix The World, shines a light on hypocrisy and duplicity, while unleashing dynamic, memorable guitar solos echoing the intensity of the vocals. The closer, Shut Up And Play!, takes a deep look inside, as Cannon vents his anger at being told to keep his opinions about the world to himself. As the defiant vocals command attention, Cannon's frustrations pour into every note. Chicago's New City declared, "Toronzo Cannon spins the innate human capacity of misery and regret into a kind of furious ecstasy." 

"I write what I know, what I feel," Cannon says, "I like to put myself in the shoes of the subjects of my songs. This record is about the things going on in my life since 2019--it's a document of what I've seen and been through, but the stories are universal. And it's my way to get past negative things and keep my own sanity. Listen to the lyrics. I am a Black man in America. These are NOT protest songs. I try to create honest, common sense understanding with my songs." 

Toronzo Cannon was born in Chicago on February 14, 1968, and grew up in the shadows of the notoriously tough Robert Taylor Homes. Theresa's Lounge, one of the city's most famous South Side blues clubs, was close by. As a child, Cannon would stand on the sidewalk outside the club's door, soaking up the live blues pouring out, while trying to sneak a glance inside at larger-than-life bluesmen like Junior Wells and Buddy Guy. He also heard plenty of blues records growing up in his grandfather's home, and listened to soul, R&B and contemporary rock on the radio. 

Cannon's sister gifted him his first guitar at age 22, and his natural talent enabled him to quickly master the instrument. Although his initial focus was reggae, he found himself increasingly drawn to the blues. "It was dormant in me. But when I started playing the blues, I found my voice and the blues came pouring out." He absorbed sounds, styles and licks from Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Hound Dog Taylor, B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Jimi Hendrix, J.B. Hutto, Lil' Ed Williams and others. Although influenced by many, Cannon's biting, stinging guitar sound is all his own. 

From 1996 through 2002, Cannon played as a sideman for Tommy McCracken, Wayne Baker Brooks, L.V. Banks and Joanna Connor. But he was determined to prove himself. In 2001, while continuing to work as a hired-gun guitarist, he formed his own band, The Cannonball Express. By 2003, he was working exclusively as a band leader. His first three albums—2007's My Woman (self-released), 2011's Leaving Mood (Delmark) and 2013's Blues Music Award-nominated John The Conqueror Root (Delmark)—document his rise from new kid on the block to promising up-and-comer. 

Cannon fulfilled that promise with the 2016 release of his Alligator Records debut, The Chicago Way, with his maturity as an artist on full display. The album was hailed as the emergence of one of the most electrifying bluesmen to burst onto the international stage in decades. The groundbreaking 2019 follow-up, The Preacher, The Politician Or The Pimp, built upon the foundation he'd laid, creating and defining his vision of contemporary blues. Local, national and international media all took notice. CNN filmed Cannon leading a tour of Chicago blues clubs and then broadcast the piece around the world. Local Chicago television station WGN won an EMMY award for their piece on Chicago's new blues master. England's tastemaker MOJO magazine declared The Chicago Way the #1 Blues Album Of 2016, and The Preacher, The Politician Or The Pimp as the #2 Blues Album Of 2019. 

Cannon has been nominated for ten Blues Music Awards, and, as his fan base expands, so do his friendships with famous musicians. Gary Clark, Jr. declared, "Toronzo is a beast. He lights the room up," and Joe Bonamassa rightly pronounced, "Toronzo's a great guitar player, excellent vocalist and an amazing personality." 

Cannon has performed at clubs and festivals at major cities all over the U.S. and continues to bring his music directly to his fans. He's toured Canada, the UK, made his way across Europe and even to Japan. He has played the Chicago Blues Festival on ten separate occasions, bringing tens of thousands of his fellow Chicagoans to their feet. His live performances unfailingly earn him heaps of critical praise and hordes of wildly enthusiastic new fans. "Listen to a master bluesman at work," declared the UK's Blues & Rhythm magazine. "This is modern blues at its creative best." 

Now, with Shut Up And Play! Toronzo Cannon delivers his songs with purpose and passion. "It's not about the solos," says the man whose blazing guitar work continues to impress, "it's about the songs. People get used to everyday life, so it's easy to miss the things around them. I know the problems of Chicago, the hardships. I write about those things. But I love my city, warts and all. I grew up here. It molded me and gave me the people and places I know and love. And it produced the Chicago blues giants that came here from down south. I'm proud to be from Chicago and to be able to stand on the shoulders of every great Chicago blues musician who came before me." 

All the attention he's received only makes Cannon more focused. "I feel like I've become an ambassador for Chicago blues. People expect a lot from me," he says. "But it's good, because I'm forced to keep upping my game." And like all the Chicago greats who have come before him, blues is his life's calling. "You don't choose the blues," he says. "The blues chooses you."

Select Tickets
Online sales are currently paused.
Venue Details
Map of Venue Location.
The Cave 71 Military Raod
Buffalo, NY 14207
Join the Conversation

Follow the event with #thecavebuffalo