Blues With A Feeling Committee Brings the Best Blues to Hamilton’s Legions of Blues Fans


Richard Newell

Who are the members of the Friends of Richard Newell Committee?

The Friends of Richard Newell committee are Neil Nickafor, Sonny Del Rio, Rob Platsko, Paul Cronkwright, Ian Wallace, Paul Panchezak and Larry Feudo.

What are you doing to change our community ?

In addition to our annual scholarship in Richard Newell’s name in the Music Department of Mohawk College we draw attention to the city’s renowned blues music heritage by presenting a yearly concert showcasing some of the most important names on the Hamilton blues scene, a musical community that centered around Richard Newell a.k.a. King Biscuit Boy and to this day still draws much of its inspiration from him. We also bring some of the best acts in the country to Hamilton’s legion of blues fans.

What does the ideal community look like to you ?

The ideal community is one where musical culture and the arts in general is an integral and vital part of the overall social fabric.

What inspires you ?

We are inspired every year when the recipients of the Richard Newell Scholarship are introduced to the audience at our “Blues With a Feeling” concert. We are also filled with pride when we stand at the side of the stage at that same show and look out on a sold out house thoroughly enjoying themselves — responding enthusiastically to blues music not as a museum piece from a bygone era but as an art form that is alive and well.

Name one thing about your event/organization that should inspire others ?

We hope that we might serve as an example that anyone can make a contribution to their community. Although the members of the Friends of Richard committee are not concert promoters or fund raisers by profession we have created one of the most anticipated and successful Hamilton musical events each year. At the same time we are contributing to the future of Hamilton music through the Mohawk scholarship. The event has raised over $20,000 for Music Scholarships at Mohawk College.

Top, from left: Richard Newell, Kelly Jay and Richard Newell, Guitary Mikey and Billy Gibson play at a recent Blues With A Feeling Concert. Bottom, from left: Richard Newell, The Chessmen, Richard Newell

How ‘Friends of Richard’ Began

Following the death of Richard Newell a.k.a. King Biscuit Boy in 2003 a group of more than 20 of his friends, fans and band mates came together to organize a musical wake in his honour. The first “Blues With a Feeling” concert was held at Hamilton’s 77 Club. Over seven hundred fans turned out to be entertained by over one hundred of Canada’s greatest blues musicians who contributed their talents free of charge. With funds raised from this first concert a core of the original organizing group formed a loose knit affiliation known as the “Friends of Richard” with the purpose of turning “Blues With a Feeling — Remembering Richard Newell” into an annual event which would in turn fund a scholarship in Richard’s name. This year marks the thirteenth “Blues With a Feeling”. We are happily anticipating another great concert on Saturday June 6 at the Bay City Music Hall that pays tribute to the memory of Hamilton’s gift to the musical world — Richard Newell.