For over 15 years, Canadian blues artist Manitoba Hal has been forging a career as one of the country’s most preeminent roots and blues multi-instrumentalists. With 14 recordings under his own name and appearances on countless others, guitarist, ukulele master and singer-songwriter Manitoba Hal is a musical renaissance man.
Known for his baritone voice and mastery of his instrument – whether it be on guitar or his trusty ukulele - Manitoba Hal takes his audience from the deep south to the islands with songs that are mournful, hopeful, silly, romantic and introspective. His original songs have become modern classics and his take on standards and popular blues songs of the past have brought him to the forefront of the blues scene. Manitoba Hal has been influenced equally by artists such as Gordon Lightfoot and Stephen Fearing as much as blues forefathers Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. These influences offer a uniquely Canadian sound to Hal’s blues and work to tie together the exceptional prose in his lyrics with grit and spirit of blues music.
Beginning his career as a guitarist, Manitoba Hal began to play the ukulele when he inherited a 1955 Martin uke from his beloved grandfather who told him “you can have it if you learn to play it”. And so, he did, continuing to master the tiny instrument, thus proving that the ukulele can be small but mighty as he pulls out powerful riffs and melodies adding background beats with looping technology showcasing the blues in all its passion and groove. His approach to playing is simple – there’s not a lot of flash, just a brilliant understanding of the music, the mood and his audience. In an average year Hal performs over 150 shows throughout Canada, Europe and Australia. Be it a crowd of one or 1000, Manitoba Hal gives 100% of his energy and ability at each performance to ensure a night to remember.
Manitoba Hal isn’t just an amazing musician and songwriter - the former bus driver for the city of Winnipeg is a craftsman, educator, DYIer and loving, dedicated son. When not on the road, Manitoba Hal can be found renovating his 120-year old home in his adopted hometown of Shelburne, Nova Scotia where he relocated to in 2010. For the past five years Manitoba Hal has been at the centre of a stellar team that runs the Dock Street Uke Camp, which is dedicated to providing a unique quality ukulele instruction experience on the harbour front of beautiful Shelburne.
Looking ahead, Manitoba Hal already has more projects in the works. Following the release of his upcoming album Blues Is In The Water (March 2018 / producer Tim Williams), Hal will be returning to the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. From his hand crafted cigar box ukes and guitars to his new lyric and method books there is lots more to look for from Hal in 2018.
Whether on four strings or six, Manitoba Hal is one of Canada’s most versatile, engaging, expressive and down-to-earth blues artists.
"Winnipeg raised bluesman ... Manitoba Hal gave the blues a new twist at the Tongue N Groove, July 21... As promised, he cracked jokes and told stories, but when he picked out classic blues licks on his ukulele, jaws dropped."
Richard Amery - L.A. Beat
"Manitoba Hal has created something wholly unique and idiosyncratic out of several elements that already existed. He’s not the first guitarist to switch over to ukulele. Nor is he the first musician to use looping pedals. And he’s certainly not the first guy to play the blues, but the way he approaches the combination of those elements, and mixes it with his own musical sensibilities, is just perfect. A tireless live performer, ambassador for the uke, and all-round great musician."
Peter Hodgson Mixdown Magazine May 2012
"If you like singer songwriters you're going to enjoy Manitoba Hal, if you love, country, blues, folk, gospel, cajun, and celtic, music then you're going to love Manitoba Hal!"
Brian Mcghee (Keep Ukulele Playing Live)
"Many musicians play the blues . . . .
Many musicians play the Ukulele . . . . .
Nobody does both the way that Manitoba Hal Brolund does, and he’s also one of the most genuine and nicest human beings..."
John Henderson SPRUKE Festival Australia