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2008 Blues Blast Music Awards
Buddy Guy's Legends
November 2, 2008
Tim "Too Slim" Langford
By Linda Cain
Photos by: Jennifer Wheeler
Photos by: Jennifer Wheeler
The first ever Blues Blast Music Award Ceremonies debuted at Buddy Guy’s Legends on an unseasonably warm evening in November, just two days before a worldwide historic event was about to take place in Grant Park only a few blocks from the club. Needless to say, there was excitement in the air as musicians and blues fans from all over the U.S. filled the room to see who would win the blues election on that night, while hoping that the Senator from Illinois would win the following Tuesday.
The award winners are:
Best Contemporary Blues Recording - Holmes Brothers - State Of Grace
Best Traditional Blues Recording - Lurrie Bell - Lets Talk About Love
Best New Artist Debut Recording - John Németh - Magic Touch
Best Blues Song - Nick Moss - Mistakes from the Past
Best Male Artist - Buddy Guy
Best Female Artist - Koko Taylor
Best Blues Band - Magic Slim & The Teardrops
Sean Costello Rising Star Award - John Németh
Blues Blast Magazine also awarded its first ever Lifetime Achievement Award to Delta Blues Legend David ”Honeyboy” Edwards. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes significant contributions and a lifetime body of work in the field of Blues music.
The winners received a special plaque, as did all of the nominees. (Scroll down to see a complete list of nominees)
Lurrie Bell & Nick Moss
The ceremonies included performances by Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Lurrie Bell, Matthew Skollar, Nick Moss, Gerry Hundt , John Németh, The Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Dave Riley, Bob Corritore, Eden Brent, Sugar Ray Norcia, Teeny Tucker, Gina Sicilia, Dave Gross, Tim "Too Slim" Langford, Robert Hughes, Mary Lane and others. Each act played about 4 songs each, nearly all of them originals. Musicians from all over the U.S., including Idaho, Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Washington, came to perform. Blues fans from London, Connecticut and Texas were also in the house.
Mississippi gal Eden Brent, kicked off the festivities, which began about 7 p.m., with a short solo piano set, and returned later for a lengthier performance. Dressed in a bright red pantsuit, her waist-length locks swinging to the beat, sassy Eden tickled, pounded and caressed the ivories while belting out the kind of original songs which won her the IBC (International Blues Challenge) award in 2006.
Bob Corritore & Lurrie Bell
Guitarist/singer Dave Riley and harp blower Bob Corritore performed a heartfelt set of traditional blues that satisfied the soul and took us traveling down the dirt road to the crossroads.
singer Gina Sicilia, who
resembles a sexy young Maria Muldaur, was accompanied by versatile young
guitar hero Dave Gross, a
drummer and a standup bassist. The group breezed through an impressive
variety of styles from ballads to jump blues.
The dynamic and eclectic five-piece Kilborn Alley Blues Band served as the house band for the rest of the evening. But first the Champaign-Urbana quintet played a smokin’ set that kicked things up several notches. The music was fast and energetic and the fans loved it as they danced and shouted "whoo!". Kilborn's ferocious number, “Tear Chicago Down,” did just that, along with several other tunes that had the crowd hollerin’ for more. Harpist extraordinaire Sugar Ray Norcia joined them for a swinging set that had all of the harmonica players in the house on the edge of their seats.
Powerhouse singer Teeny Tucker brought with her three angelic backup singers to assist on booty shakin’ covers of “Hound Dog” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’” . Not many female vocalists have the nerve to tackle an Etta James song, but Teeny covered “I’d Rather Go Blind” with a gut-wrenching, passionate performance that had the crowd cheering. Guest guitarist Robert Hughes performed a face-melting guitar solo to finish the set.
Next up, cowboy-hatted Tim “Too
Slim” Langford brought the house down with his fretwork finesse and
powerful string bending . The
guitarist’s fiery repertoire was culled from his vast array of
recordings; the Seattle artist has 14 CDs to his credit.
It’s no wonder why John Nemeth won two Blues Blast Awards. The singer/harp player put on a commanding performance that had all eyes and ears riveted to the stage. The man has the showmanship of Mick Jagger, a voice on par with Buddy Guy, harp skills worthy of Junior Wells and a slew of catchy-as-hell songs. His very animated style is a cross between Tom Waits and a demented tent show preacher. Nemeth must to be seen to be believed; he’s truly unique.
(Note: By now it was 11 p.m. on a Sunday, so I was unable to stay for the rest of the musical feast. But what I did see, was proof positive that the blues is alive and well and will live on into the future thanks to these dedicated and talented artists.)
The winners were chosen by the 11,000 Blues Blast magazine readers from all 50 states and more than 40 countries voting at the IllinoisBlues.com website. There was no cost or fees to be eligible to vote. “These awards truly represent the People’s Choice for the best in Blues music,” noted Bob Kieser, publisher of Blues Blast newsletter and Illinois Blues.com
Celebrity award presenters included Eric Steiner, president of the Washington Blues Society, Linda Cain publisher of ChicagoBluesGuide.com, Chicago Blues woman Deb Seitz, August “Lordy” Lord owner of ChicagoBluesBeat.com, James “Skyy Dobro” Walker (songwriter, musician, DJ and journalist), Ben Cox from Juke Joint Soul, Matt Eimer, promoter of the Simply The Blues Fest in Fort Madison, Iowa and Kate Moss publicity director for Blue Bella Records.
Celebrity audience members included blues men Lonnie Brooks and Johnny Drummer, Jerry DelGuidice from Blind Pig Records, Michael Frank from Earwig Music, Marty Salzman (Magic Slim’s manager), Ann Caldwell from Blues Blast, blues singer Pat Smillie, photographer Jennifer “Lady Blues” Wheeler from Chicago Blues Guide, and blues DJ Cyndy Lee from WDCB-FM.
The sponsors of the Blues Blast Music Awards were WGL Blues 24/7 a free online Blues Music stream and Podcast from WGLT radio, a public radio station in Normal, Illinois (www.WGLT.org) and The Chicago Blues Guide (www.ChicagoBluesGuide.com)
Blues Blast magazine is a free weekly Blues “web-zine” available from IllinoisBlues.com. The Blues Blast Music Awards recognize the best of today’s Blues music.
A group of Blues industry professionals including artists, music writers, radio D.J.’s, artist managers and festival promoters selected five nominees in each of the eight categories. Voting for the awards took place during July and August online at the IllinoisBlues.com website. More than 2000 votes were cast and the awards ceremonies were a celebration of the artists and the music that represent the best in Blues music today.
Magic Slim, Deb Seitz, Lonnie Brooks
Complete list of 2008 Blues Blast Music Award Nominees
Best Contemporary Blues Recording
Best Traditional Blues Recording
Best Blues Song
Best Blues Band
Best Male Artist
Best Female Artist
Best New Artist Debut Recording
Sean Costello Rising Star Award