Tom Lavin & the Legendary Powder Blues Make History with National Canadian Museum

Article Contributed by Eric Alper | Published on Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Vancouver-based band Tom Lavin & the Legendary Powder Blues, formed in 1978, are finally history, in the most literal sense. The National Canadian Museum of History has just completed an acquisition of Powder Blues artifacts that will become a part of the CMH permanent collection.

“We are incredibly honored that the National Canadian Museum of History has chosen to preserve our legacy. It is our hope the display will convey some of the joy, passion and energy that we have shared with and received from our great audiences over the past 44 years,” says Lavin. “It’s satisfying to know that these items will be protected and shared for years to come. I could not have asked for a more perfect home than this great and respected museum in Gatineau.”

Items include a rare, transparent blue vinyl, LP of the band’s first release in 1979, Powder Blues ‘UNCUT’, the ‘million-mile guitar case’, Lavin’s custom blue D’Angelico New Yorker archtop guitar, the original manuscript for Tom Lavin’s travelogue of their 1990 tour of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, numerous historical photos, and a Canadian Recording Industry Association Double-Platinum award.  Much of the collection has never or rarely been seen by the public.

The Canadian Museum of History is a national museum of anthropology, Canadian history, cultural studies, and ethnology in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. The purpose of the museum is to promote the heritage of Canada, as well as support related research.

For over four decades Powder Blues has been Canada’s leading blues band. The mix of swing, blues, jazz, rock & roll and R&B has an appeal so wide that people from seven to seventy swing side by side at Powder Blues shows. Over the years the band has toured non-stop through Canada, the United States and overseas, spreading feel-good music that makes folks dance and shout.

Powder Blues debut album, ‘Uncut’, was ignored by major labels who said there was ‘no market for the blues’. Undiscouraged, the band sold it off stage and sent it to radio stations whose switchboards lit up with calls asking, ‘who’s that?’ After selling 30,000 copies in a few weeks, the same record labels competed to distribute this ‘non-commercial’ product. To date Powder Blues have sold over a million records worldwide.

Band highlights include winning Canada’s Juno, headlining the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, winning the Blues Foundation Award in Memphis, Tennessee and touring the US and Europe with legends like Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, James Brown, Albert Collins, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Leader, Tom Lavin wrote many of the band’s best-known songs including ‘Doin’ It Right’ (‘On the Wrong Side of Town’) and ‘Boppin With the Blues’. Born in Chicago where he worked with local bands and blues legends, Tom moved to Vancouver gigging the nightclub scene. This led to work as studio musician, song writer, band leader, record producer and film composer.

Tom has won BCMIA awards for ‘Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter and Producer of the Year’, a JUNO award for ‘Best New Band’ and the American W.C. Handy award. He has over a dozen gold, and platinum records for Powder Blues, Prism, April Wine, Long John Baldry, Amos Garrett, and many others.

2023 is the band’s 45th Anniversary. Their more than dozen CD titles and DVD continue to sell world-wide making Tom Lavin & the Legendary Powder Blues one of Canada’s longest-standing musical ambassadors.

Tom Lavin & the Legendary Powder Blues are winding up their 44th Anniversary Tour Saturday, December 3, 2022, with a show at the HUB International Theater in Chilliwack, BC.

Confirmed dates for their 45th Anniversary tour in 2023 include February 11, 2023 at the Sagebrush Theatre in Kamloops, BC, February 12, 2023 in Kelowna, BC, July 29  Festival d'la Baie, Petit Roche, NB, August 26  Edmonton International Blues Festival, August 27, Rocky Point Music Bowl, Port Moody, BC. More dates TBA in the near future.