Q&A with Toronto-based Chris Antonik, a blues-rock guitarist, singer/song writer, who pays deep respect to blues tradition

​"I think this music is timeless, and people will always love it, however, I think the reason blues has been able to generate renewed interest in recent years, is because newer artists are mixing blues with other genres, like rock, soul, pop, even hip hop."

Chris Antonik: Morningstar Blues

Since his nomination for Best New Artist at Canada’s Maple Blues Awards in 2011, following the release of his debut album, Toronto-based blues-rock guitarist, singer, and song writer, Chris Antonik, has been wowing live audiences with his incendiary blues-rock guitar playing, and delivering innovative and thoughtfully crafted songs that transcend limitations or expectations of genre. Antonik has assembled an impressive, forward-looking body of recorded work that pays deep respect to blues tradition, while forging ahead in exploring new sonic and artistic territory.  Chris has toured Canada, the US, and UK extensively, and has played many major blues festivals along the way, including a sold-out appearance at the 02 Academy in Sheffield, UK for the 2018 HRH Blues Festival, and a headline spot at the UK’s Upton Blues Festival in 2016. His guitar style has drawn comparisons to BB King, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, and Joe Bonamassa, with one reviewer even dubbing him "the Canadian Gary Clark Jr.”              (Photo: Chris Antonik)

Chris’ third studio album, Monarch (2017), further expands the blues’ thematic and musical boundaries into blues-rock, soul, and Americana – “an awe-inspiring mastery of the guitar, and a vocal range that will make your jaw drop to your toes.”  Monarch was nominated for Recording of the Year (with Chris as Producer) at the 2018 Maple Blues Awards, with Chris also being nominated for Songwriter of the Year.  Indie Folk Americana wrote “"Monarch" is a classic modern blues album made with wisdom and style. Antonik has a transcendent understanding of modern electric blues.” Not to be stopped by any pandemic, Chris developed a wealth of powerful and captivating material for his highly anticipated fourth album, Morningstar (Release Day: August 5th, 2022), Morningstar is Chris Antonik’s most ambitious and fully realized musical vision to date, building on nuanced songwriting, an amazing assemblage of musicians (including guest appearances by award-winning blues guitarists Jarekus Singleton and Paul Deslauriers, and Tedeschi-Trucks Band vocalist Mike Mattison), and of course Chris’ own sophisticated, mesmerizing guitar work complimented by stellar vocals. 

Interview by Michael Limnios                   Chris Antonik, 2013 Interview @ blues.gr

How has the Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

​As a songwriter, music allows me to express my views of the world. For example, the song "Trust in Me," on my new album, is a chronicle of single parenting during the Trump era and guiding my children through the toxic media environment propagated by politicians of all stripes. I was able to express my anger and frustration through song. I don't write a lot of political tunes, but I am grateful for having a blues-rock-guitar vehicle to really let it all out.

Where does your creative drive come from? Do you have any stories about the making of the new album Morningstar?

I'd say primarily personal experience. I write about things which I know, i.e. my own experiences, but I like to frame songs in a way that others can relate to. We started the album just before a pandemic lockdown here in Canada. Then everything shut down. At times, it was a challenge to keep production moving with things opening and closing. However, I am so happy we persevered.

Morningstar is Chris Antonik’s most ambitious and fully realized musical vision to date, building on nuanced songwriting, an amazing assemblage of musicians (including guest appearances by award-winning blues guitarists Jarekus Singleton and Paul Deslauriers, and Tedeschi-Trucks Band vocalist Mike Mattison), and of course Chris’ own sophisticated, mesmerizing guitar work complimented by stellar vocals. Morningstar is a cohesive collection of songs and musical experiences reminiscent of the albums of the 1970s, in the ways in which the elements fit together to generate a transcendent experience for the listener. (Photo: Chris Antonik)

Why do you think that the Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following in Canada?

​I think this music is timeless, and people will always love it, however, I think the reason blues has been able to generate renewed interest in recent years, is because newer artists are mixing blues with other genres, like rock, soul, pop, even hip hop. 

Are there any specific memories or highlights of your career that you would like to tell us about?!

​Meeting my amazing partner, Alison, also a musician, at a blues festival we were both performing at.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

To be humble, to encourage creativity in others, to listen, and to not speak so much (lol)

What is the impact of Blues on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

Great question - earlier in my career, I just wanted to play my guitar. Now, I still want to play my guitar of course, but more than anything else, I aim to make strong, real connections with the audience. 

​"As a songwriter, music allows me to express my views of the world.  For example, the song "Trust in Me," on my new album, is a chronicle of single parenting during the Trump era and guiding my children through the toxic media environment propagated by politicians of all stripes.

I was able to express my anger and frustration through song.  I don't write a lot of political tunes, but I am grateful for having a blues-rock-guitar vehicle to really let it all out."

(Photo: Chris Antonik)

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

​Back to Criteria studios, Miami, some day in August 1970 - to witness the recording of Derek and the Dominos "Layla" album!

Chris Antonik - Home

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