R&B History Lesson – GEORGE OLLIVER & STEVEN AMBROSE


I spend a lot of time on Facebook doing my research on Toronto bands. I’ve connected to hundreds of fan pages and friended loads of musicians. I watch the news feed with interest. Anyone who says Facebook is boring just doesn’t know what they’re doing.

One of my Facebook “friends” is Eli Eisenberg. Eli is a great Toronto bass player. He gigs regularly and I encourage him to let me know what he’s up to. I received a message from Eli recently inviting me to come check him out at a gig he was doing with George Olliver. I had never heard of George Olliver and I didn’t really know what sort of music we were in for, but I wanted to see Eli perform, so Aaron and I grabbed our gear and headed out for the night.

The show was at The McNeil Room at Whistlers, located at Broadview and Mortimer. It’s a classy sort of joint compared to the places I usually hang out. The show was upstairs in a banquet hall type room. The stage was large and tables were set with table clothes. There was a full dinner menu available as well as the bar. The crowd was older. Over 50. I wondered what sort of night we were in for.

When the music started I was relieved. It was fantastic. I love a band that is tight and up-beat and has a front man with a personality who knows how to work the room. The energy was fabulous. Although I love watching green kids in bands they’ve just started, who have loads of potential, some of them are still a little hard to listen to. I was soooo in the mood for some seasoned professionals.

GEORGE OLLIVER

It turns out, George Olliver is a legend in Toronto. George co-owned and performed at the legendary Club Blue Note in Toronto from 1982-92. The Blue Note was one of the Toronto venues in the 60’s that helped coin the term “Toronto Sound”. Toronto Sound is the characteristic R&B sound from the years 1959–69 which was a major progenitor of American Rock in the 1970s.

There’s a lot of Toronto history with Mr. George Olliver. George was recently featured (March 2011) in the award winning BRAVO documentary “YONGE ST. TORONTO ROCK N’ ROLL STORIES“.

George’s career shot to stardom as the lead singer of the now legendary R&B band Mandala, with top ten hits “Opportunity” and “Give and Take”.

George released a solo album called “Dream Girl”, which was nominated for a Juno award in the category Best R&B Recording in 1987. George has won the award Album of the Year for Durham Region and a MAJA Award for Song of the Year from his CD “Look Up”.

www.georgeolliver.com

STEVEN AMBROSE

Steven Ambrose often performs with George Olliver. Steven is known for fronting the band called the Linolns which featured Prakash John (Lou Reed and Alice Cooper) on bass.

His latest CD, “Love is Breaking Out”, was initiated by John Long of Long & McQuade. Seven songs are written by Steven and three are co-writes. Steven worked with Toronto’s Terry Brown (Rush, Max Webster, Allannah Myles, Blue Rodeo, etc.) on the production.

http://www.stevenambrose.com/