Sunday, May 13, 2018

The 39th Annual Blues Music Awards: Winners Both Global & Local

Posted By on Sun, May 13, 2018 at 8:37 PM

click to enlarge Janiva Magness, Dom Flemons, Bobby Rush, David Porter, Candi Staton, Steve Van Zandt at the BMAs - JEFF FASANO
  • Jeff Fasano
  • Janiva Magness, Dom Flemons, Bobby Rush, David Porter, Candi Staton, Steve Van Zandt at the BMAs

Everyone was dressed to the nines last night as the 39th Annual Blues Music Awards paid honors to the world's greatest blues artists. It's a tradition that would doubtless make W.C. Handy smile, just steps away from where he brought global recognition to the music. Now just over a century after he published “Memphis Blues,” the genre is thriving and always evolving.

click to enlarge Steven Van Zandt at the BMAs - CONQUEROO
  • Conqueroo
  • Steven Van Zandt at the BMAs
Master of Ceremonies Steven Van Zandt acknowledged that the power of the blues goes beyond aesthetics. “At a time when our country is more segregated than at any time in the past hundred years, music holds us together and touches all our souls,” he reflected from the podium. Award presenters included Van Zandt, Tony Joe White, Joe Louis Walker, Janiva Magness, Ruthie Foster, Candi Staton, and David Porter. The latter two, presenting together, offered some amusing banter, seemingly making plans to collaborate while onstage.

click to enlarge Tony Joe White at the BMAs - CONQUEROO
  • Conqueroo
  • Tony Joe White at the BMAs
Among the award winners' acceptance speeches, the most moving appearance was by Rev. Charles Hodges and Archie Turner, accepting the award for Best Soul Blues Album, Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm (as David Porter quipped, “Robert must be off somewhere making money”), and reminding us of all that Willie Mitchell and crew have accomplished over the decades. While Memphis native Vaneese Thomas (daughter of Rufus, sister of Carla) lost out to Mavis Staples as Best Soul Blues Female Artist, newcomers and local heroes Southern Avenue snagged Best Emerging Artist Album. Grammy winners Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’ won Best Contemporary Blues Album with their TajMo
click to enlarge Keb' Mo' - JOSEPH A. ROSEN
  • Joseph A. Rosen
  • Keb' Mo'

Performances were inspired all around. The North Mississippi Allstars lit up the room with their dynamic set, and one could feel the emotions of the room rise as they sang their funky “Prayer for Peace.” At one point, Cody Dickinson played drums and keyboard riffs simultaneously; later, he moved to a synth- or pedal-treated washboard for a psychedelic down-home front-porch finale.

Another galvanizing performance was turned in by Harrison Kennedy, whose a cappella opening number brought the room to a hush, as he kept time on a shaker and moaned out his soul, moving many to give him a standing ovation.

Blues Foundation President and CEO Barbara Newman noted, “We are watching the trends closely, and the blues, as a genre, is definitely on an uptick, with younger musicians being drawn to create and play this style of music and a continually growing following of the music on our social media outlets and beyond.”

Blues Music Award winners
1. Acoustic Album: Break the Chain – Doug MacLeod
2. Acoustic Artist: Taj Mahal
3. Album: TajMo – Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’
4. B.B. King Entertainer: Taj Mahal
5. Band: Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
6. Best Emerging Artist Album: Southern Avenue – Southern Avenue
7. Contemporary Blues Album: TajMo – Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’
8. Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Samantha Fish
9. Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Keb’ Mo'
10. Historical: A Legend Never Dies, Essential Recordings 1976-1997 – Luther Allison (Ruf Recordings)
11. Instrumentalist-Vocalist: Beth Hart
12. Instrumentalist-Bass: Michael “Mudcat” Ward
13. Instrumentalist-Drums: Tony Braunagel
14. Instrumentalist-Guitar: Ronnie Earl
15. Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Jason Ricci
16. Instrumentalist-Horn: Trombone Shorty
17. Pinetop Perkins Piano Player (Instrumentalist – Piano): Victor Wainwright
18. Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female): Ruthie Foster
19. Rock Blues Album: We’re All In This Together – Walter Trout
20. Rock Blues Artist: Mike Zito
21. Song: “The Blues Ain’t Going Nowhere” written by Rick Estrin and performed by Rick Estrin
22. Soul Blues Album: Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm - Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
23. Soul Blues Female Artist: Mavis Staples
24. Soul Blues Male Artist: Curtis Salgado
25. Traditional Blues Album: Right Place, Right Time – Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter
26. Traditional Blues Male Artist: Rick Estrin

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