Carlos del Junco - Bio

 

Eddie Turner

  Born in Havana, Cuba, del Junco (loosely translated "of the reeds") immigrated with his family at the age of one. He bent his first note on a harmonica when he was fourteen, making his debut with his high school math teacher at a student talent night. In his early 20's del Junco was immersed in a visual arts career; he graduated with honours from a four year programme, majoring in sculpture at the Ontario College of Art. Sculpture has definitely had an influence on his outlook on music: "Music is just a different way of creating textures and shapes."

Playing a ten hole diatonic harmonica, Carlos has developed the unique ability to play chromatically by using a recently developed "overblow" technique taught to him by jazz virtuoso Howard Levy. Overall, this approach to the diatonic harmonica, although much more difficult to achieve, is in many ways more expressive and communicative than the mechanised tone produced by the chromatic harmonica . Carlos is one of the few pioneers of this overblow method, bringing musical credibility to what has still been considered by many in the music industry - a fringe folk instrument. The sophisticated sound produced by del Junco is at once sensitive, soulful, and sexy while never forgetting the rawness inherent in blues music.

During the 80's del Junco performed with many bands including Latin/reggae/r&b band "Eyelevel", "Ontario College of Art Swing Band" with Bill Grove and he had a 6 year stint with rhythm and blues group "The Buzz Upshaw Band". With Kevin Cooke in 1990 he formed a blues/jazz/fusion band, "The Delcomos". He has recorded with Marcel Aymar (Cano), Cassandra Vassick, Oliver Schroer, Zappacosta, and has also worked with Dutch Mason, Domenic Troiano, Hoc Walsh (Downchild Blues Band) and Holly Cole.

In 1991 del Junco performed and composed the music for Tomson Highway's Dora award winning play Dry Lips Oughta Move To Kapuskasing. The production toured Canada and was held over for seven weeks at Toronto's Royal Alex Theatre.

In 1993 Carlos del Junco won two gold medals at the Hohner World Harmonica Championship held in Trossingen, Germany. He was judged world's best in both the diatonic blues category and the diatonic jazz category.

With the late Bill Kinnear, Carlos del Junco released his first CD, Blues on independent label, Big Reed Records in November 1993. The rich collection of blues classics was a collaborative effort with Kinnear playing acoustic and dobro guitars and handling lead vocals. Five out of six reviewers in the Toronto Blues Society, selected Blues for their top ten releases of 1993.

In March/April 1995 del Junco travelled to Chicago with a Canada Council grant to study with Howard Levy. This year saw the release of of the critically acclaimed Just Your Fool a sizzling live session with Kevin Breit on guitar, Al Duffy on bass, and Geoff Arsenault on drums. It was this CD and the collaborative effort with Thom "Champagne Charlie" Roberts Big Road Blues,that won Carlos the 1996 Blues Musician Of The Year Award.

del Junco continues to produce an eclectic palette of music as is showcased on his 2001 release
Up & At ‘Em. Carlos moves the harmonica into Latin, worldbeat, a quirky jazz-ska hybrid, New Orleans and even a bit of bluegrass. Kevin Breit’s always remarkable guitar work is again featured along with some of Toronto’s finest musicians, including a guest appearance by Jane Siberry.

Carlos has toured Canada often since 1996 and tours regularly in Germany. Festival highlights include playing at the Winnipeg and Calgary Folk Festivals, Montreal Jazz Festival, Fredericton Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, Harbourfront Soul and Blues Festival, Northern Lights Festival Boreal, Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival.

Winner of the Toronto Blues Society’s Maple Blues Award for 2003 and 2004
Harmonica Player of the Year

1993 Carlos del Junco won two gold medals at the Hohner World Harmonica Championship held in Trossingen, Germany

Nominated for a 1999 Juno Award for "Best Blues Album"

Performed and composed the music for Tomson Highway's Dora award winning play
Dry Lips Oughta Move To Kapuskasing