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MonkeyJunk’s Tony D talks “CKUA Live”


His name is Tony Diteodoro, but he’s been known as Tony D since his elementary school days. “The teachers just called me Tony D because they didn’t know how to pronounce my name.” The name really took off when Tony and his bandmates formed MonkeyJunk, the Ottawa-based blues band that travels the world and has released six albums. Now Tony D is on his way to Alberta to headline the CKUA Live benefit concert in Edmonton on March 21. We caught up with him, and learned about his music, the cool dad who bought him his first guitar, and what CKUA means to him.

Although Tony D might be known best for his work with MonkeyJunk, he has always enjoyed other projects, too. Gathering restrictions over the past few years allowed each member of the band to work on individual projects, and for Tony, that meant exploring different musical styles. “I started going back to old material. In the past, I had done a lot of instrumental stuff, and played with a flamenco troupe. My solo music has always crossed genres. I love the blues, but when I’m on my own I also play rock and jazz.”

He was thirteen years old when he started music lessons. “I was a trombone player first, but I wanted to play guitar. I asked my dad for a guitar, and he just bought me one. He saw that at other people’s houses, I always went towards the musical instruments. I got really into the music and listened to heavy duty players. I listened to Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Chicago blues guys who changed and formed the genre. They electrified the music of the south. Those sources, with a modern sound, still influence me. That’s how I got into the blues.”

He’s reflective as he considers the role his father had in starting that musical journey. “There were no musicians in my family, but my father was influential because he loved the idea of someone doing what they loved. If he saw anyone passionate about something, he would be very encouraging to them.” From that beginning, Tony says, “When you play music with passion, it starts to find you. You meet other musicians, and you learn about other forms of music.”

As he looks forward to the CKUA Live benefit concert on March 21, he doesn’t mince words about the importance of CKUA, and community-minded broadcasters. “Here’s the thing. I love radio. The reason I got into music is because of radio. I grew up in a time when DJs would spin their own music, and they would turn you on to what they liked. CKUA does exactly that. The hosts play the music that they like and find interesting. My music expands by listening to stations like CKUA. It’s probably my favourite station in Canada. That encouragement is so important.”

And, he adds, “CKUA enriches the culture and gets people interested in what’s happening. People come to the shows because they have heard our music on CKUA. MonkeyJunk does well in Alberta because of the amount of airplay we’ve had on CKUA. So I’m really looking forward to the show.”

There are still tickets left for CKUA Live on March 21, featuring headliners Tony D and Leeroy Stagger. It will be a great night of music. Find info and tickets.