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36th Blues Music Awards Announced

Another year for the Blues Music Awards is in the books. Elvin Bishop and Bobby Rush came out on top as big winners this year in Memphis. The even this year coincided with the opening of the long awaited Blues Hall of Fame. According to The Blues Foundation president Jay Sieleman, the foundation built the Blues Hall of Fame after raising nearly $3 million, finally providing a destination for fans and a location where blues legends are remembered for their contributions to America’s unique musical creation. The Blues Hall of Fame is located at 421 South Main St. in Memphis and is open 10a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is only $10 so get your Blues loving self to Memphis.

I see lots of my favorites on the list as winners but I still can’t figure out who voted for Joe Bonamassa over Ronnie Earl in the Guitarist category. Anyway, without further delay, the winners are…

B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year
Bobby Rush
Elvin Bishop
John Németh
Rick Estrin
Sugaray Rayford

Band Of The Year
Elvin Bishop Band
John Németh & the Bo-Keys
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones
The Mannish Boys

Album Of The Year
Can’t Even Do Wrong Right – Elvin Bishop
Living Tear To Tear – Sugar Ray & the Bluetones
Memphis Grease – John Németh
Refuse to Lose – Jarekus Singleton
Wrapped Up and Ready – The Mannish Boys

Song Of The Year
“Can’t Even Do Wrong Right” written and performed by Elvin Bishop
“Another Murder in New Orleans” written by Carl Gustafson & Donald Markowitz, performed by Bobby Rush and Dr. John with Blinddog Smokin’
“Bad Luck Is My Name” written and performed by John Németh
“Let Me Breathe” written by Janiva Magness & Dave Darling, performed by Janiva Magness
“Things Could Be Worse” written by Ray Norcia, performed by Sugar Ray & the Bluetones

Contemporary Blues Album
BluesAmericana – Keb’ Mo’
Can’t Even Do Wrong Right – Elvin Bishop
Original – Janiva Magness
Refuse to Lose -Jarekus Singleton
Hornet’s Nest – Joe Louis Walker

Soul Blues Album
Memphis Grease – John Németh
Blues for My Father – Vaneese Thomas
Decisions – Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin’
In My Soul – The Robert Cray Band
Soul Brothers – Otis Clay & Johnny Rawls

Acoustic Album
Timeless – John Hammond

Hard Luck Child: A Tribute to Skip James – Rory Block
Jericho Road – Eric Bibb
Jigsaw Heart – Eden Brent
Son & Moon: A Tribute to Son House – John Mooney

Best New Artist Album
Don’t Call No Ambulance – Selwyn Birchwood
Chromaticism – Big Harp George
Heavy Water – Fo’ Reel
Making My Mark – Annika Chambers & the Houston All-Stars
One Heart Walkin‘ – Austin Walkin’ Cane

Traditional Blues Album
For Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters) – Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson
Common Ground: Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy – Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin
Livin’ it Up – Andy T-Nick Nixon Band
Living Tear To Tear – Sugar Ray & the Bluetones
The Hustle is Really On – Mark Hummel
Wrapped Up and Ready – The Mannish Boys

Rock Blues Album
Step Back – Johnny Winter
Goin’ Home – Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
Time Ain’t Free – Nick Moss Band
heartsoulblood – Royal Southern Brotherhood
The Blues Came Callin’ – Walter Trout

Historical
Soul & Swagger: The Complete “5” Royales 1951-1967 – The “5” Royales (Rock Beat)
From His Head to His Heart to His Hands – Michael Bloomfield (Columbia/Legacy)
Live at the Avant Garde – Magic Sam (Delmark)
The Modern Music Sessions 1948-1951 – Pee Wee Crayton (Ace)
The Roots of it All-Acoustic Blues – Various Artists (Bear Family)

Acoustic Artist
John Hammond
Doug MacLeod
Eric Bibb
John Mooney
Rory Block

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Janiva Magness
Beth Hart
Bettye LaVette
Marcia Ball
Shemekia Copeland

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Lurrie Bell
Billy Boy Arnold
John Primer
Sugar Ray Norcia
Sugaray Rayford

Koko Taylor Award
Ruthie Foster
Alexis P. Suter
Diunna Greenleaf
EG Kight
Trudy Lynn

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Gary Clark, Jr.
Elvin Bishop
Jarekus Singleton
Joe Bonamassa
Joe Louis Walker

Soul Blues Male Artist
Bobby Rush
Curtis Salgado
John Németh
Johnny Rawls
Otis Clay

Soul Blues Female Artist
Sista Monica
Candi Staton
Missy Andersen
Sharon Jones
Vaneese Thomas

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Marcia Ball
Barrelhouse Chuck
Bruce Katz
David Maxwell
Eden Brent

Instrumentalist – Harmonica
Charlie Musselwhite
Kim Wilson
Mark Hummel
Rick Estrin
Sugar Ray Norcia

Instrumentalist – Guitar
Joe Bonamassa
Anson Funderburgh
Johnny Winter
Kid Andersen
Ronnie Earl

Instrumentalist – Drums
Jimi Bott
June Core
Kenny Smith
Tom Hambridge
Tony Braunagel

Instrumentalist – Horn
Deanna Bogart
Al Basile
Jimmy Carpenter
Sax Gordon
Terry Hanck

Instrumentalist – Bass
Lisa Mann
Bob Stroger
Michael “Mudcat” Ward
Patrick Rynn
Willie J. Campbell

 

Fresh Biscuits! Bruce Katz Band Homecoming CD Review

Well folks, I just have one review for you this week. I spent a lot of time with this disc recently and ended up writing 800 words on it and I could have kept going. But don’t let that scare you!

I hope you enjoy the review and I hope you find something interesting for your ears.

BruceKatzHomecomingBruce Katz Band
Homecoming
American Showplace Music
Released on November 11, 2014

Bruce Katz is an in-demand sideman and has been for over 25 years. He has appeared on over 70 albums including six with Blues Maestro Ronnie Earl. Bruce spent nearly six years as a member of Gregg Allman’s band and has recorded and/or performed with John Hammond, Delbert McClinton, Duke Robillard, Joe Louis Walker, Little Milton, Maria Muldaur, Debbie Davies, and notably, Mighty Sam McClain. During Bruce’s nearly five year run with Ronnie Earl’s Broadcasters, he toured the world, wrote and co-wrote many songs, such as “The Colour of Love,” “Ice Cream Man,” and “Hippology” and won the Downbeat Critics Poll for Best Blues Album of 1996 for Grateful Heart. Bruce Katz’ solo projects retain much of what makes Ronnie Earl’s music so powerful. It has emotional depth, integrity, and beauty. Plus, he’s not afraid to rock it up once in while either, and when he does you better hold on to your hat. Homecoming, the new album from Bruce Katz Band captures all those elements and through his power of sonic alchemy presents us with musical gold.

The title track gets things going with an easy beat shuffle, with Bruce laying down the chords on organ while guest guitarist Jimmy Bennett of Alexis P. Suter Band glides through the tune on lap steel. The tune reminds me of a lazy Sunday, sitting lakeside, and waiting on a fish to bite. Katz’ organ is the comfortable cushion on the porch glider, Ralph Rosen’s drums provide the swing, and Bennett and Bruce Katz Band guitarist Chris Vitarello trade licks like frogs snapping at flies while I sip a big old glass of Sweet Tea. “King Of Decatur” continues the laid back Southern feel, even with its funky Little Feat style of New Orleans funk. Drummer Randy Ciarlante sits in for an adhoc NOLA drum section and sings, while Jimmy Bennett’s lap steel conjures everyone from Lowell George to Sonny Landreth. How is it that Bruce doesn’t play accordion on this one?

“Santa Fe Blues” has an old style piano boogie feel, something you’d expect to hear in a saloon in a train town of the Old West. Bruce’s chops on piano are stellar. Every note is crisp and clear. The first time I listened to it I didn’t notice someone was singing. I was wrapped up in Bruce’s piano playing. I was looking at the liner notes and realized John Hammond sings the tune and plays guitar. I had to go back and listen again, and again, and… you get the picture. I love their treatment of this old Lightnin’ Hopkins tune. It’s a truly standout performance from Mr. Katz. I eventually realized John Hammond does a damned fine job singing too. Elmore James’ “Wild About You Baby” gets the Hound Dog Taylor roadhouse blues barrelhouse all night long treatment and it’s one of those moments you’ve always been waiting for. It’s great musicians playing ragged ass blues and getting it right.

“Amelia” is a playful piano driven tune Katz wrote for his granddaughter. The beat is relentless like a toddler might be and the music has a happy-go-lucky ebullience. “Time Flies” is a short and sweet swinging piece with quick moving unison playing between the guitar and organ. Rumor has it that Katz is one hell of a bass player. His left hand sure lays down a beauty of a bass line on “Time Flies.” It had me wondering who the bass player was, but to my surprise none was listed. Bruce is a dynamo. “Time Flies” captures the essence of his potent trio. It brings together telepathic playing, incredible chops, and memorable music.

Homecoming is split roughly half and half between instrumentals and songs with vocalists. Jimmy Bennett and John Hammond sing two songs each, Randy Ciarlante sings one and BKB guitarist Chris Vitarello sings his song “The Sky’s The Limit.” Chris sings well and is an exquisite guitarist. He finds the perfect style for each song and even his improvisations sound composed. He gets the right tones, the right notes, and the right attitude. Drummer Ralph Rosen certainly knows how to kick up some dust. He is more than a drummer though. He is a percussionist. He finds all the right accents, and plays eclectic beats that make perfect sense for the tunes.

Homecoming is a crowning achievement for Bruce Katz and his cohorts. The Bruce Katz Band’s music has the air of unflagging tradition yet it blurs the lines between genres. It is of itself and beyond itself at the same time. It’s like Mozart with a jazz trio playing at Junior’s Juke Joint on a Thursday night. There’s no name for it and it doesn’t really need one. At a recent show, Bruce was heard to say, several times, that “It’s all Blues.” I think we can go with that.