Blackburn Brothers

blackburn square

Friday Evening Concert Bowl – Concert –10:00 – 11:30

Saturday Grierson Stage – Soul Of A Man – 3:15-4:30

Sunday at the Crossroads – Family History and the Underground Railroad – 12:30 – 1:20

Sunday In The Barn – Canadian World Perspectives – 5:00 – 6:15

An obvious uniqueness that identifies and sets apart the band is that Blackburn is a band of brothers – literally. Duane (lead vocals), Brooke (guitar), Cory (drums) and Robert (who took part on harmony vocals and song writing on the newest release) all share the Blackburn name; a name that has become truly connected to Toronto music history. 

Musically, the Blackburn name has been forever imprinted in our ears by Bobby Dean Blackburn, an R&B artist who gained legendary status in the Toronto music scene, performing the city circuit for over 30 years. 

Beyond the music, other history runs deep too. The Blackburn name is tied to the history of the Underground Railroad, and there is a direct connection to the musical talents that we know and listen to today. 

Brooke and Erin opened the conversation by discussing the family history of the Blackburn name. One of the first things that Brooke spoke of was the family’s connection to the Underground Railroad. Clearly educated on his lineage, I get a paraphrased crash course on the last 182 years of history attached to the last name that has become synonymous with the Toronto music scene. He gives me a simple breakdown of how the Blackburn family ended up from slavery in the United States to present day; “My father’s Great Grandfather was Elias Earls. He was born a slave in Kentucky in 1833.”  

Brooke told the story of how Elias went from Kentucky to the Boston area, met an Owen Sound woman named Sarah, and headed north to Canada. The two ended up in what we know today as Chatsworth, Ontario and had a child, Solomon. Settling in to the Owen Sound area, the town is the most northern terminus (retreat for the Underground Railroad) in Canada to date From there, Estelle (Grandmother) was born, and then came Bobby Dean Blackburn. As we know, the Blackburn name made its way to Toronto – Bobby Dean Blackburn grew up in the city, and soon became a seminal figure in the Toronto R&B scene. Brooke proudly adds to the conversation; “My Dad is 70 years old, and he’s still on the road playing. He just came back from Mexico.” 

This is where some might insert that old cliché “the rest is history”, but it certainly doesn’t end there Proudly rhyming off his family tree seemed as effortless as playing music for Brooke however, the legacy is still being written.

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