It has been well over 10 years since Carlos del Junco has graced any stage in Ottawa. He has certainly matured into a much more finessed player since his days playing at the Rainbow Bistro in the 90’s. Dugg Simpson, Artistic Director for several years at the Vancouver Folks festival said: “Carlos is one of those players whose music is so advanced that when it comes to awards, it's either retire the category or rephrase the question to ‘Best Harmonica Player Not Named Carlos’ ”. This includes two Gold Medals from the Hohner World Harmonica Championship in Trossingen, Germany, as well as multiple national awards in Canada which includes Carlos’ eight time Harmonica Player of The Year from the Maple Leaf Blues Awards.
To say he plays the harmonica is like saying "Jimi Hendrix plays guitar". He blows the blues harp through a prism -- suddenly it seems he's holding every colour in the musical rainbow right there in his hands.
Simultaneously sophisticated and raw, his playing blurs the boundaries between blues and jazz (hence the name for his band “The Blues Mongrels”, they could just as well be called “The Jazz Mongrels”). The emphasis is on blues, but they are not afraid to merrily traipse off in other directions delivering a seamless fusion of New Orleans second line grooves, jazz swing, Latin, hip-hop or ska melodies, to swampy roots rock.
The Blues Mongrels are: bassist Henry Heillig (founded the nine piece Latin band Manteca), and guitarist Eric St. Laurent. Get ready to trash all you thought you knew about the harmonica. The Blues Mongrels deliver a no-holds-barred display of fun and melodic virtuosity.
“…a model of focus and urgency..a true virtuoso.."
Brad Wheeler - The Globe and Mail
“One listen to the man who bent his first notes on the harmonica at the age of fourteen and it's obvious he's in a class with such greats as Toots Theilemans, Paul Butterfield, and Howard Levy…"
Peter North - The Edmonton Journal
“FOUR (out of 4) STARS - Latest Cd Review: MONGREL MASH
It's not likely that you'll ever hear the harmonica played so well and in so many different ways than at the hands of Cuban-born Torontonian Carlos del Junco. But what makes his album an especial treat is the sheer let's-do-it positive energy that radiates from the eclectic collection of nine tracks. Mongrel Mash refers to the crazy mix of styles, ranging from deep, heavy-duty blues-rock (“Mojo”) to Herb Alpert's slightly cheesy “Slick,” and jivin' “Lil' Laptop” to sweet, rootsy ballad “The Field,” which arrives via languid dobro set-up. Del Junco may be the headliner, but the songs and arrangements shine the light on an excellent band of equals who all get some time in the sonic spotlight. There is something here to put a smile on anyone's face — and it only gets better with each listen. My favourite: Del Junco's own “My Favourite Uncle,” a gently hip-swinging sweep down Louisiana way. Check out the band's CD release party at Hugh's Room on June 11"
John Terauds - TORONTO STAR