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2015 Blues Music Awards

The 2015 Blues Music Awards
By T.E. Mattox

B. King said it best, "Memphis to me…is the home of the Blues. And it STILL is, because Beale Street was known for the 'college of blues.'" If the King of the Blues says it, you know it's true. As we draw closer to the 2015 Blues Music Awards all ears turn toward Memphis. The event has taken on a life of its own and this, the 36th Annual has added even more glitter to an already star-studded affair. Along with pre- and post- event concerts, Beale Street club crawls, party events and hotel showcases there's an entire evening of musical performances during the award presentations on May 7th. But being Memphis and the home of the blues, the very next day on May 8th, the Blues Foundation will oversee the Grand Opening of the Blues Hall of Fame and the induction of three of its newest members; Tommy Brown, Eric Clapton and Little Richard.

The BMA is the highest honor bestowed on an artist, band or a recorded work when Foundation members evaluate and vote on the previous year's achievements in blues excellence. The awards themselves are presented in more than two dozen categories and range from musical performance and songwriting to the very best in current and historical recordings.

Win or lose the Awards ceremonies have witnessed some extraordinary and legendary live performances over the years including a number of 'up close and personal' experiences from the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Blues Foundation, Jay Sieleman. "The Blues Music Awards present incredible moments every year." Sieleman said. "Every year, someone just blows the crowd away. I should rephrase that, 'every year each fan thinks someone else blew them away.' The Pres and CEO even made his own list. "Some of my personal favorites over the years have been; Beth Hart's 'Love is the Baddest Blues.' Doug MacLeod's 'The Entitled Few.' Danielle Schnebelen of Trampled Under Foot's 'May I Be Excused.' Dorothy Moore's 'Misty Blue.' Koko Taylor's last performance of 'Wang Dang Doodle' with Jimi Bott, Kid Ramos and Larry Taylor. Bettye LaVette's 'Joy.' Jason Ricci's 'Broken Toy.' Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks as an acoustic duo… Oh! There is too many – Steve Miller, Reba Russell, Jewel Brown & Milton Hopkins…"

Little Charlie Baty, Anson Funderburgh, Mark Hummel and R.W. Grigsby
Little Charlie Baty, Anson Funderburgh, Mark Hummel and R.W. Grigsby.
Photo: Yachiyo Mattox

Blues players, nominees and former BMA winners all have special memories about their BMA experience. Mark Hummel took both Album of the Year and Best Traditional Blues Album in 2014 and has also been nominated again this year in multiple categories. He's a nominee for his work as a Harp Instrumentalist and once again in the Traditional Blues Album category for the recording "The Hustle is Really On." As the show approaches the veteran bluesman says it's always a great experience. "I used to go a lot when I was on the road, in the South. And it's fun because I get to see a lot of people I don't see that often, all in one place which is pretty exciting." Hummel say he remembers the BMA's back in the early days. "I started going, I think the second year they had them, and they were still called the Handy Awards. As I recall they did them in a few different places. But it seemed like they did them on Beale Street or right off of Beale Street and it was always a real fun time. I remember in 1989 I was touring with Sue Foley and her band and we'd be playing on Beale Street at places like the Rum Boogie and a place across the street; Alfred's I think it was called. And you'd have a lot of musicians, like Robert Jr. Lockwood would be checking you out or Duke Robbillard would be sitting in, or Sam Myers would be sitting in, there would be a lot of great musicians that would be sitting in or just hanging out. That was a real exciting time in the late '80s and early '90s. The sad thing is a lot of the old timers are just gone. Robert Jr., Sam, they aren't around anymore. But it was a fun time, you know? I had some wild times back in those days."

It's a little bit different for first time nominee, Missy Anderson. Her recent work has placed her in the midst of a prestigious class of Soul Blues artists and the reality is starting to sink in. "Besides the thrill of being nominated," she says. "My next favorite thing so far is the email I received from the Blues Foundation saying some people requested to be seated at my table and was that alright with me. My response was, 'I have a table?!!?' This just gets better and better!"

Heine and Missy Anderson performing
Heine and Missy Anderson. Courtesy photo

The BMA's will be handed out Thursday night May 7th in the ballroom of the Cook Convention Center in Memphis. The city has remained a geographic magnet and a blues musician's mandatory first stop since the migration of the early delta players. And as most blues enthusiasts know, B.B. King even derived his name from the city. That's where Riley B. King became 'The Beale Street Blues Boy.' "Hardly anybody that played the blues didn't stop in Memphis at one time or the other." B.B. said. "Even after that time, even today the British rock and Blues musicians come through Memphis. I'm just happy, in America we have a music that is called Blues and we can share it with the world."

Amen, Mr. King. Amen.

Related Articles:
B.B. King: The Blues is Like a Family; Mark Hummel and the Blues Survivors; Missy and Heine Andersen; The Blues…… and Lives Well-Lived; Ain't No Cure… for the Summertime Blues!

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Let Tim know what you think about his traveling adventure.

I was there at the Shrine to see Bob come in riding on a baby elephant. He says in the interview it was either '68 or 69: it was both – it was New Year's Eve (See "The Bear," an article on Bob Hite),

Debbie Hollier, Nevada City, CA

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Who else played with Canned Heat and Deep Purple at the Shrine in '68?

Bill, LA

I think the Shrine show on New Years in '68, where Bob Hite rode out on the elephant, also featured Poco, Lee Michaels, Black Pearl, Love Army and Sweetwater. Don't know that Deep Purple was booked on that evening.

Bill, maybe you're thinking about the International Pop Fest in San Francisco a few months earlier that featured these fine folks... Procol Harum, Iron Butterfly, Jose Feliciano, Johnny Rivers, Eric Burdon And The Animals, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grass Roots, The Chambers Brothers, Deep Purple, Fraternity of Man & Canned Heat or possibly the following year in Jan of 1970 when Deep Purple appeared with Canned Heat and Renaissance on a triple-bill in London at the Royal Albert Hall.

One final note: The current Johnny Otis piece didn't mention it, but it was Mr. Otis that took Canned Heat into the studio the very first time to record in 1966. Small world, ain't it?


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Thank u for posting it! Bob is still boogin' around!! (See "The Bear," an article on Bob Hite),

Stefano Di Leonardo, Fisciano (Salerno, Italy)

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Great Read! (See "The Bear," an article on Bob Hite) I will post it on Bob "THE BEAR" Hite Official Facebook Page,

Dave Tohill, Brandon, UK

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Hello Tim, thank you so much for letting a huge Canned Heat fan check out this
interview with the Bear. I really enjoyed it.

Best regards,

Rick Caldwell, Fairfield, Ohio

* * * *

I knew Bob Hite in the 60's. Canned Heat played at our high school prom 1966 Rexford High. The Family Dog, Chet Helms, Skip Taylor.

Max Kalik, Los Angeles, CA

Dear Tim,

I just discovered you from an email I received from Preston Smith disclosing his next event. I wanted to tap into his website Prestonsmithmusic but it would not link from your site for some reason. I have to say Preston really is a genius and I met him in Glendale at a jazz club about three years ago, after a fatal accident. By chance, I was invited to spend time hanging out with Preston and some friends after his gig. He is everything you say and I will never forget his amazing creativity and his positive influence in my life.

Janelle, Palm Springs, CA

Love the article! (on Lowell George) Lowell was my father.

Forrest George, Warren, Vermont

This Bob Hite interview is the most interesting thing I have read concerning Canned Heat. I have Fito's book, but I always was interested in learning more about Bob Hite. You did it here my friend...great interview!!!!!

Tony Musto - Pittston, PA

Hey Tim, Great article on Preston! I really enjoyed it and you did your homework. I'll probably catch PS this weekend.


Dave - Northridge, CA

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Hello, what a great article on Preston Smith! I actually met Preston one evening after an Acoustic set of my own at the Prestigeous Carlton Hotel here in Atascadero, Ca. We were loading up and he happened to be walking down the sidewalk and stop to say hello. I must say that he is a truly interesting and talented man that NEVER forgets to let me know when he is playing around the Central Coast where I live. It was so fun to read about who he truly is...(as if you don't know him the first time you meet him)! My adventures have only just begun as I recently returned from Nashville recording my self titled debut EP. I can only hope that my adventures down the road are as enlightening as Preston's and that I have the honor of a great writer such as yourself to share them with the world. Thank you for doing just that, sharing "Preston Smith" with the world.


Amy Estrada - Atascadero, CA

Hi Tim,

My name is Bert, I'm from Italy and I'm a blues harmonica player...I read your article and it reminded me of the two trips I made in the Delta, in 2008 and 2009. I love Frank's music and I think it's a shame people don't really know his work. It's important that people like you write about him. Thank you! In the Delta I was only a "stupid" tourist, but it was a great, unique experience I consider one of the most important in my life: driving on the highways, Listening to the blues everywhere, jamming in places like Red's and ground Zero in Clarksdale or the Blues Bar in Greenville... are priceless things, something I will keep in my heart for the rest of my life. I met a beautiful, lovely woman there too (named Hope), but I behaved like a stupid kid and I lost her... Alas! I will never forget that days and the chance I had to find happiness...Well, I also wrote something about Frank on a website, but it's in Italian... I give you the link of the first part (the second will be published in the next weeks) anyway if you know some Italian or somebody who can understand it... Even if I'm thinking of making a translation


Bert - Pavia, Italy

I wanna be Tim!

Brent, Seattle, WA

* * *

Those pictures give you an idea of what the Rockin' Pneumonia actually looks like and it looks BAD! But the man can still play! Enjoyed the article - give us more TRAVELING BLUES BOY!

Steve Thomas - NA, INDIANA

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Good Stuff, Tim. Having been a Johnny Winter fan since the first time I heard Rock n Roll Hoochie Koo, it was great hearing his take on some his highlight moments that defined his blues career. His affiliation with Muddy Waters was particularly interesting. Kudos for bringing that out. Thanks to your dedication to covering the blues scene, this "one of a kind" music still lives for servicemen & women around the world. Keep it Up!

Brandon Williams, Moreno Valley, CA

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Impressive! What a legend and how cool that you got so much time with him, Tim.

Don, Louisville, KY

Tim - Great article, enjoyed Little Feat/Lowell George story, really brought me back in time. Did not know he was a fishin' man! Wonder what surfaces out of the abyss of your memory next?

Steve Thomas, New Albany, IN

* * * *


I really liked your travel back in time with Lowell and Little Feat. As a long time Feat fan (mostly the stuff with Lowell) it was cool to read. I learned several of their songs back in the day and they still stand up today when played live. Another singer I really liked from back then is TimBuckley. Thanks for the article.

Chet Hogoboom, Arroyo Grande, CA

Loved your last issue of TB, especially the Mayall piece. I want that guy's job!

Brent, Seattle, WA


This is a great write up. Has it been printed in any magazines? It's better than a lot of things I read in my guitar magazines, so props for that.

Caejar, Moreno Valley, CA


I can tell that you have this passion for jazz. I wonder if you yourself play any instrument. Or are you just a groupie like most of us?

I talked with a mid-aged flute jazz artist a few weeks ago and he lamented that despite his talents (and he is extremely talented) he says that the industry hasn't been kind to him. He said jobs are few and far between. He said the music industry is combating piracy and competition due to technology being readily available to private homes and that they are not as profitable as before. So they are replacing live talent for synthesized or digital instruments.

Do you see the same trend in your relationships with your music network?

Bob, Pasadena, CA

Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
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Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) could read and compose music, plus play the violin and piano, when he was five years old. Born into a musical family in Salzburg, Austria (then the Holy Roman Empire), he had a unique ability for imitating music, which first became evident when he recited a musical piece by simply observing his father conducting a lesson to his older sister. This led to a childhood on the road, where the young prodigy performed before many of the royal courts of Europe.

Go There

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The Han Grotto and Culzean Castle. As the name of my Traveling Boy feature is "Travel With a Difference," it's important to me to always bring you offbeat and unusual tourist places around the world you may not know about. These two fit that category to a T, and they're absolutely worth a visit. One's in Scotland and one's in Belgium. Culzean (pronounced CULLANE) Castle is located near Maybole, Carrick, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.

go there

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aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

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