2014 Blues411 ‘Jimi’ Awards

2014JIMIPICIt’s that time of year again, when we at Blues411 honor many of the artists that have made our year bright and full of great music. Yep, its time for the Annual Blues411 Jimi Awards!

What started as a small open space on the web for promoting and supporting blues artists, has turned into a force for good that keeps blues artists and their music in the spotlight around the world, and situated under a very big tent.

While we cannot give an award to, or nominate everyone, we try our best to spread the love around in keeping with our mission statement. We believe that we are where Blues Thrives!
The winners in each category are in bold green type

So to start us off in the usual traditional manner, we would like to offer a toast to everyone we have meet this year, artists, fans, new friends and those of you who have stood by our side and supported us over the five years. Let us raise a glass of Pink Minke together.

The Special Drink of 2014:
The Pink Minke” – Thank you Kathleen Minke from the Baltimore Blues Society for contributing this intriguing, if not potent drink. Not to mention all the other images that come to my perverted mind, but that’s for another column.
Where can you find this? You guessed it, in ‘Cooking With HART’ available at the Blues Foundation shopping page
http://www.shopbluesfoundation.org/cooking-with-hart/ or at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Live blues is the best! This year there were more live recordings than the last few years put together. I think that all of these recordings whether ‘live’ in studio or live in concert all capture the essence of what the blues is. Our winner’s release captures not only his ability to perform but to entertain as well, a very important aspect of any show.

Best Live Recording:
Gary Clark – LIVE
Karen Lovely – Prohibition Blues
Ian Siegal – Man & Guitar
Sabrina Weeks & Big Cat Bounce – LIVE
Dana Fuchs – Songs From The Road

 Acoustic blues has always had a special spot in my heart and soul. It was Bill Wax, broadcasting the ‘The Front Porch‘ on XM that actually hooked me into the blues. So thank you to the artists who carry on this tradition. Our winner has a feel and a voice all his own, as he moves forward but looks back.

Acoustic Blues Release:
Bob Eike – Happy Little Songs About Futility and Despair
Mary Flower – When My Bluebird Sings
John Hammond – Timeless
Catfish Keith – Honey Hole
Norman Taylor – Blue Soul

Blues/Roots is an combo to me. It can be acoustic or electric but it must capture in it’s own way the roots of the blues. Not traditional, not contemporary but somewhere in between. A wonderful release by a classic cat from a town deeply rooted in the blues takes this category.

Best Blues/Roots Release:
Seth Walker – Sky Is Blue
Austin Walkin’ Cane – One Heart Walkin’
Harmonica Shah – Havin’ Nothin’ Don’t Bother Me
Porkchop Willie – Love Is The Devil
Shane Dwight – This House

Traditional blues has the direct connection to the past, and each artist here has made that connection in their release. As you can see they vary widely in their scope. One of the under the radar releases this year is our winner.

Best Traditional Release:
A New Day – EG Kight
A Long Way From Home – The Suitcase Brothers
James Armstrong – Guitar Angels
Selwyn Birchwood – Don’t Call No Ambulance
Hollywood Boulevard – Raoul & The Big Time

R&B, yeah sometimes people forget that it’s Rhythm & Blues, and that in itself is a classic take. Our nominees and winner display a variety of styles on this classic style of music. This lady ‘sangs’ them rhythm & blues fo’ sho’.

Best Soul/R&B Release:
Bobby Murray – I’m Stickin’ With You

Dexter Allen – Bluez Of My Soul
John Nemeth – Memphis Grease
Annika Chambers – Making My Mark
Lady Bianca – Real People Music

Welcome back‘ ain’t just for Mr. Kotter (Kot-aire) anymore. These artists have been away for a spell and we are all glad that they have returned to bring us their vision of the blues. A hearty welcome back Rip.

Welcome Back Release:
Rip Lee Pryor – Nobody But Me

Jordon Patterson – Back On Track Recording Project
Candi Staton – Life Happens
Cathy Lemons – Black Crow
Dixie Peach – Blues With Friends

New artists debut records, no explaining here, Lucy! There were many more that could be here, but we have a limit of five per category. Wonderful array of styles but this year’s winner just put it all together in a fine way in their new release.

Best Debut Release:
Fo’Reel – Heavy Water
House Of Dues – Cross That Line
Back Pack Jones – Betsy’s Kitchen
Bob Eike – Happy Little Songs About Futility and Despair
Pork Chop Willie – Love Is The Devil

The blues may be more popular Internationally than right here at home, more about that at a later date. But these folks are stand outs in their efforts to keep the blues thriving around the world. All of them are excellent. But our winner truly went International with her release, she brought in Shun Kikuta from Japan (formerly was Koko Taylor’s guitar player) and created a wonderful palette of sound for us all.

International Release of the Year:
Wicked – 24th Street Wailers
Far As I Can See – Matt Schofield
Belmont Boulevard – J.W. Jones
Bad Taboo – Carolyn Fe Blues Collective
Girl With A New Tattoo – Kirby Sewell Band 

Rock blues – Blues rock…whatever, we can split hairs over a Pink Minke later about it. Now let’s see who takes home the Jimi Award.

Rock/Blues Release of The Year:
The Blues Came A Calling – Walter Trout
Time Ain’t Free – Nick Moss Band
Girl With A New Tattoo – Kirby Sewell Band
Move On – Lisa Mann
Blues Scars – Skyla Burrell

Contemporary blues, yeah a bit of a difference here. To me it is definitely blues with a very strong contemporary twist to it. Whether it be musical, lyrical or both. This stuff is what will keep the blues in the hearts and minds of the new generation. I thank each and everyone of you who put out these releases. Our winner combines Mississippi Hill Country Music with hip-hop and rap sensibilities over a techno-beat base, oh yeah.

Best Contemporary Release:
Hard Garden – Blue Yonder
Refuse To Lose – Jarekus Singleton
Sunshine – Davina & The Vagabonds
Restless Mind – Murali Coryell
Panther Burn – Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat

A new category for 2014. As we see more and more young-in’s playing the blues we all need to recognize the good ones. The ones that get it and are more than guitar shredders or hook players. These young folks are the real deal and I suggest you get to know them now on the way up cos their bus is gonna get crowded real soon. Our winner so impressed me at the IBC’s last year and is burning up the road touring and playing.

Comin’ Up Youth Award:
Micah Ian Kesselring (Guitar)
Brandon ‘Taz’ Niederauer (Guitar)
Jack Gaffney (Piano)
Aidan Hornaday (Harp)
Matt Tedder (Guitar)

Another new category this year, we look for either tribute releases or releases that are from artists that have joined the band in heaven.

Best Historical Release:
Sean Costello – In The Magic Shop
Empire Roots Band – Harlem Street Singer
Rory Block – Hard Luck Child
Mud Morgenfield & Kim Wilson – For Pops (A Tribute To Muddy Waters)
Johnny Winter – Step Back

Women in the Blues – they can make ya cry, laugh, they can rock ya or mellow you out. Here we honor the instrument known as voice. Out of great choices comes our winner.

Female Vocalist:
Shaun Murphy
Lady Bianca
E.G. Kight
Annika Chambers
Janiva Magness

Now for the men who sing so well…This cat can just flat-out sing!

Male Vocalist:
John Nemeth
Sugaray Rayford (The Mannish Boys)
Nick Nixon (Andy T. /Nick Nixon)
Joe ‘Smokey’ Holman (Tweed Funk)
‘Big’ Mike Wallace (Back Pack Jones)

With so many artists including instrumentals on their releases, we figure it’s time to honor them for their much appreciated efforts.

Best Instrumental Song:
My Mother’s Blues – Benny Turner
Blues For Michael Bloomfield – Mannish Boys
Puddin’ Pie – Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters
Bob’s Late Hours – Bob Corritore
Hollywood Blvd – Raoul and the Big Time

The guitar is certainly the go to instrument in the blues these days. But these cats are unlike the followers they all lead from the front. Notice I started to include acoustic players this year, they deserve it. But our winner – well all ya gotta do is say his name to other guitar players and you will see why he is at the top.

Guitar Hero:
JP Soars
Jimmy Thackery
Ronnie Earl
Bobby Murray
Catfish Keith

Guitars are not just toys for the boys. We have a long history of ladies playing the guitar and doing it with excellence. Here is our choice for those who deserve recognition. Our leading lady has been producing gut wrenching blues for many years, she has added a whole lotta of soul and grit to Candye Kane’s sound.

Guitar Heroine:
Laura Chavez
Liz Mandeville
Rachelle Coba
Katy Guillen
Mary Flower

Badass bass is always fun, it holds the bottom end down and makes the beat sweet. The winner here has been touring with two bands (at least) and is one superb cat.

Badass Bass:
David Forte
Scot Sutherland
Ben ‘Gifted Hands’ Sterling
Lisa Mann
Bill Ruffino

Led by these folks and others, keyboards are making their way back into mainstream blues these days. The variety and depth of our winner is refreshing and encouraging to us for the future.

Radiating Them 88’s Piano/Keys Award:
Dave Keyes
Johnny Drummer
Kelley Hunt
Bruce Katz
Eden Brent

This could be the hardest group to choose from. And yes we left off a ton of players too, not as an oversight but again to get some light on some others who are out there. Yet our winner had a release this year that was so damn good it could make wanna jump and say hell yeah.

Harmonica Player Award:
Pierre LaCocque
John Nemeth
Fabrizio Poggi
Bob Corritore
Brandon Santini

Them beat keepers are an incredible bunch of artists. Each artist here has their own sound and take on what the drums should do. Each of them can vary and alter their playing to fit a specific styled song. Our winner has been touring with several bands, and providing the glue that holds them together, congrats big guy!

Drum Thumper Award:
Eric Selby
Chris Alexander
Lindsey Beaver
George Sheppard
Eddie Cotton

Other – well when ya get past the screeching guitars, the booming bass, and them thumpin’ drums – it’s hard sometimes to hear the other folks who provide a distinct sound to the blues. Our winner is an integral part of the band he plays with, accomplished, talented, versatile and hard working.

Instrumentalist Other:
Ron Miles – Cornet
Peaches Staten – Frattoir
Preston McEwen – Broom
Dan Eikmeier – Trumpet
Melissa Tong – Violin

Sometimes it ain’t the meat it’s the motion. Every year I find some wonderful titles on the releases I get. This year was no exception. One day he will reveal the story behind this title to everyone.

Coolest Release Title:
Bob Eike – Happy Little Songs About Futility and Despair
Ron Tanski – Never Pet A Burning Dog
Erin Harpe – Love Whip
Marcia Ball – The Tattooed Lady & The Alligator Man
Jason Vivone & The Billy Bats – Eddie Ate Dynamite

Even in this day and age literature can help soothe the savage beast, it can enlighten one, it can showcase events or in the winner’s case can reach out and help artists who need a hand up when times are toughest.

Blues Book of The Year:
The Black & White of Blues – Anthony Gomes
Cooking With HART, The HART Fund Cookbook – Collection
Star Killer Star – Eyre Price
Drink Small: The Life and Music of South Carolina’s Blues Doctor – Gail Wilson Giarratano

Writing a song is very personal, it opens up wounds, it can also heal hurts or it can raise the roof in love and lust. I fretted over this category more than any other. How could I choose one over the other. But when it all came down to it, our winner just put it all together in a way that spoke to me and many other folks.

Song Of the Year:
Guitar Angels – James Armstrong
Girl With A New Tattoo – Kirby Sewell
Crime Scene – Jarekus Singleton
Why Would A Woman Sing The Blues – Liz Mandeville
Let Me Breath – Janiva Magness

Another category with exceptional choices. If you notice each is way different from the other – a tribute to the artists who are represented here. The title of the winner sums up what is his (and many others) philosophy of life.

Album Of The Year:
Good News – Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters
Refuse to Lose – Jarekus Singleton
Heavy Water – Fo’ Reel
I’m Stickin’ With You – Bobby Murray
Original – Janiva Magness

We frickin’ love festivals, in case you didn’t notice. We support and work with many, we attend as often as we can. Seeing live music is the best thing in the world. These are festivals we have attended (a pre-requisite for nomination) and each has it’s own vibe and spirit. Our winner did a fabulous job of exposing attendees to musical attitudes, abilities within, it broadened the scope of what folks thought they could play and then they pitched a wang-dang doodle of a show afterwards. No, it is not a traditional festival but none the less it qualified and won.

Festival of the Year:
Daytona Blues Festival
Pennsylvania Blues Festival
European Blues Cruise
Otis Taylor Trance Blues Festival & Workshop
Bradenton Blues Festival

What we do we do not do alone. It truly is a community based effort. From festivals, to radio in all forms, to artists who give us the music and shout outs at events. Yet the back bone is the tireless work of our ‘fans’ – that’s a funny word to write. These folks have selflessly helped promote Blues411 and its vision, and without them we would not be where we are today. Thank you one and all, to past winners of this category to future nominees and winners, again thank you.

Outstanding Fan/Supporter of Blues411:
Lisa Panoyan
Chris Lyon
Meg Ramos
Lori Graboyes
Mick Kolassa

So that’s it for 2014, be sure to check out these artists on their web sites and in concert. The time is right to be giving the gift of the blues so any of these folks would make great gifts for the music lover in your circle. Be sure to check us out here on the web, or in social media for the upcoming Blues411 ‘Jimi Awards’ Radio Show – which will be up and ready very soon. As always. Oh yeah, you can find the prior years nominees and winners, by year, at these linked pages, so check up on the history of the Jimi Awards and see if there’s any repeat winners.

The Blues411 Annual ‘Jimi Awards’ 2012 Edition

Blues411 ‘The Jimi Awards’ for 2011.

pre-jimi award post http://blues411.com/2010/12/

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
©Blues411.com 2014
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411

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