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Steve Paul Simms pays tribute to Back Alley John on his new single

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Toronto singer-songwriter Steve Paul Simms has some “Blues for Back Alley John” in his latest single.

The song serves as a celebration for one of Ottawa — and later, Calgary’s — finest bluesmen, the late, great Back Alley John Wilson, Steve said. “I conjured up a little of Back Alley John’s harmonica magic and philosophical musings for this one… There’s also some vintage Byward Market scenery for good measure.”

The song sits atop the swirling keyboards and biting guitar stylings of Ed Michael Roth and Bob Cohen respectively, and it’s the latest to land off of Steve Paul Simms’ fourth album, Ingrid and the Messenger Boy.

Released December 2020, the 12-track LP offers a fine introduction to the Toronto-based troubadour, whose signature brand of storytelling has long evoked notions of cabarets to cityscapes, dreams to memories alike.

A classically trained actor who’s performed in well over 60 theatrical productions nationwide, this is Steve’s first album available via digital streaming. In all, Ingrid and the Messenger Boy is the culmination of Steve’s genre-spanning talents; while “Blues for Back Alley John” may be blues in focus, the veteran of the creative arts scene includes pop, jazz, ragtime, rock, soul, country, world, and Broadway tunes among his expansive repertoire.

In addition to Back Alley John Wilson, Ingrid and the Messenger Boy pays tribute to a screen legend in “Anything with Ingrid” and a classic 1960s songwriter in “Goodbye Ellie.” Meanwhile, “Te Quiero” celebrates young love without borders.” “Karma Makes a Comeback” is a song about consequences, and “Rolling” captures the lure of the open road.

“‘No Money Comin’ In’ chronicles one of life’s most familiar struggles,” Steve concluded, “and ‘Anytime’ is a declaration of love and friendship.”

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