Guitarist Mark Wigston is well known in the local Toronto Music Scene. Having been a full-time musician for the better part of 20 years, and touring with some great bands like The Shuffle Mothers, Snakeoil, Boarderline, The Touch, and having toured extensively in Canada and in the USA with some larger acts like Burton Cummings. He has become a sought after Blues Gun for Hire in the Toronto Music Scene. After hanging up his axe as a full-timer he and his family packed up and moved to Muskoka to recapture the small town atmosphere and to settle into a more relaxed life.
While up in Muskoka he met up with THE TOASTERS who had recently parted company with Fred Bread and formed Mark Tart & The Toasters. The intense Hot-Rodded Blues that is a result of this chance meeting has attracted many people in the local scene. “People are hearing about us and checking us out, especially the local musicians and the audience keeps growing” said Mark Wigston.
While guitar player Mark Wigston provides the lightning, the thunder is generated by the rhythm section consisting of Stephen Strength, on drums and vocals, and Greg Austin, on bass.
The two musicians met in the early 80s. They were brought together by MT and the Toasters now road manager John Grafton. John invited Greg, who had played with high school bands practicing in his basement, to meet Steve, and a local guitar player at a Gravenhurst jam session.
70s rock and original material being the order of the day, they formed the band SkizzikS and spent time as the house band at the Downbeat Club. The departure of SkizzikS guitar player Dale Sontage to pursue a solo career begot “Austin and Strength rhythm section for hire”. Their apprenticeship found them playing with Shane Phillips and the Southbound Band, where they gained experience playing a wide variety of musical styles. Traditional Country, Country Rock, R and B, Motown, and Rock Roll, took the band all over central Ontario and as far south as Nashville Tennessee. “We’d be playing Hank Williams one minute and Jimi Hendrix the next” they would later remember.
The audiences on this bar circuit where not as receptive when the boys helped to form H.O.M.E. (Handful of Musical Eccentrics), a mainly original music band. Optimistically they headed west to Vancouver. During this time it was necessary to develop a style which would fill out the sound of a three piece. Although H.O.M.E. played “up tempo apocalyptic party rock”, the guitarist only played an Ovation acoustic through an amp.
Vancouver and surrounding area provided a landscape where more band situations could be experienced. Big “O”, Those Guys, and Out of Order, were among the many that came and went. They also tried more musical styles including the dreaded Top 40.
Upon arriving back in Muskoka Steve and Greg chose to pursue more lucrative lines of work as their main order of business. Music however remained much more than just a serious hobby. Steve dubbed the pair “The Toasters” and they continued to play and perform with a variety of local musicians.
Finally The Toasters hooked up with the band member they had long been searching for when they met guitar player and singer Mark (M.T.) Wigston.
Now a complete band unit and reunited with long time friend John Grafton on a creative level, M.T. and the Toasters play the type of music they most enjoy playing with the people they most enjoy performing it with. They sincerely hope a small part of the elation they experience is felt by anyone who takes the time to listen. The pure enjoyment of the music can be easily experienced when taking in a Toaster show.
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