Philip Sayce’s Echoes of the Blues at The Token LoungeTonight (August 1, 2023) was a special night at Michigan’s venerable Token Lounge, where Philip Sayce, Canada’s own blues dynamo, wielded his guitar like a sonic paintbrush on a canvas of the blues. This journeyman, born in Aberystwyth, Wales, raised from toddlerhood in Canada, and now soaking in the California sun, has carved a musical identity deeply influenced by the titans of blues and rock such as Clapton, Ry Cooder, Dire Straits, and the timeless genius of Stevie Ray and Hendrix.

At the tender age of 16, Sayce started to build his reputation in the lively underbelly of Toronto’s music scene. From Grossman’s Tavern to The Silver Dollar, he was everywhere, trading licks and sharing stages with some of the greats of our time—think Robbie Robertson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bob Dylan, and Jeff Healey, along with his admiration for B.B. King, Albert King, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, and Robert Cray.


Sayce’s career trajectory shifted dramatically in 1997 when he became a part of Jeff Healey’s band. This led to an electrifying tour that spanned continents, from North America to Europe, the UK to Brazil, and even up to Finland and Scandinavia, leaving an indelible mark on the global music scene.

Fast forward to the present and we find Sayce lighting up the Token Lounge with his incandescent blues. It was a night for the audience to immerse themselves in the soulful depth of his musical journey. The idea of not seizing the opportunity to witness the spectacle of such a seasoned blues musician felt unthinkable.

The show kicked off at 8 pm with an energy that belied the band’s cross-country flight just hours before. They launched into a vigorous set of around 15 to 16 songs that left the audience breathless with admiration.

Not content to just play his own material, Sayce also performed a variety of covers that showcased his versatility and depth of understanding for the blues. From Don Covay’s heartfelt “Blues Ain’t Nothin’ but a Good Woman on Your Mind” to the electrifying intensity of Jimi Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic,” and the raw authenticity of Muddy Waters’ “Standing Around Crying”, Sayce breathed fresh energy into these classics. But it wasn’t just these tributes that held our attention; Sayce’s original songs, laced with his unique flair, had us enthralled.

The venue was filled with guitar aficionados, their faces lit with the pure joy of being part of this special evening. They were engrossed in every nuanced movement of Sayce’s performance, from his distinctive picking technique to the timeworn charm of his Stratocaster. His band added their own instrumental prowess to the performance, creating a unified and captivating sound.

In summary, this was not just a concert; it was a testament to the timeless power of blues music. An enchanting experience orchestrated by Philip Sayce and his band that left a lasting impression on every listener.

Philip Sayce
Token Lounge
Detroit, MI
August 1, 2023

All photos by Maximus Reid

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