It’s that time of year again – The Annual Blues411 Jimi Awards!
What started as a small web site for promoting and supporting blues artists, now has turned into a force for good that keeps blues artists and their music in the spotlight around the world, 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 The Blues Thrives.The winners in each category are in bold blue type.
So starting us off in our 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 our glasses and enjoy our winner in the drink category.
The Special Drink of 2016:
Bacon Manhattan The Roasting Room Lounge & Listening Lounge
9 Year Old Knob Creek, bitters, maple syrup, candied bacon strip.
A Bacon Manhattan is how real men (and women) do cocktail hour. A thick sliced of maple-candied bacon slide lovingly into of a sinful maple Manhattan is the stuff dreams are made of, and if they aren’t, you’re having the wrong dreams. Found this bad boy at The Roasting Room here in Bluffton, SC, and with that drink a great relationship started as we now work together in the Blues411 Concert Series featuring blues bands right here.
Live blues is the best! There were tons of live recordings to choose from this year. I think that all of these recordings capture the essence of what the blues is, and how it is best experienced LIVE. 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:
Jeff Jensen: The River City Sessions
Eddie Turner: LIVE…and in your face
Peter Karp: The Arson’s Match
Jon Spear: Live Music Is Better
Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat: LIVE at the Kessler
Acoustic blues has always had a special spot in my heart and soul. It is the sound of pure music and the connection between artist and instrument that first called me to the blues. So thank you to the artists who carry on this tradition. We first met and saw our winner at the International Blues Challenge. Her performance then and her release this year makes for a bright future for her and the acoustic branch of the tree that is the Blues.
Acoustic Blues Release:
Chris O Wailin’ & Raggin’ The Blues
Sunday Wilde: Blueberries & Grits
Bing Futch: Unresolved Blues
Little G. Weevil: Three Chords Too Many
Rory Block: Keepin Outta Trouble
Blues/Roots is a combo category to me. It can be acoustic or electric or both, 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 lady who does not fit in any box, though it might be nice if she was accepted more in the blues family.
Sunday Wilde Blueberries & Grits
Mick Kolassa: Taylor Made Blues
Norman Taylor: Delaware To The Delta
Mississippi Heat: Cab Driving Man
Tas Cru: Simmered & Stewed
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. Our winner captures the feel and style of traditional blues yet makes it his very own unique expression. He is also directly connected to the past, he is Freddie King’s brother, ’nuff said.
Traditional Blues Release:
Benny Turner When She’s Gone
Vasti Jackson: The Soul Of Jimmie Rogers
Lurrie Bell: Can’t Shake This Feeling
Fiona Boyes: Professin’ The Blues
Diana Braithewaite & Chris Whiteley: Blues Country
R&B, yeah sometimes people forget that it’s Rhythm & Blues, and sometimes that fact gets overlooked in the blues world. Our nominees and winner display a variety of styles on this classic style of music. This was a tough category but our winner has been consistent in their vision and their latest release has managed to win over some very good competition.
R&B Soul Release:
Come Together: Tweed Funk
William Bell: This is Where I Live
JJ Thames: Raw Sugar
Vaneese Thomas: The Long Journey Home
The Soul Of John Black: Early In The Moanin’
The blues may be more popular Internationally than right here at home, pretty scary huh? So all these folks are stand outs in their efforts to keep the blues thriving around the world. All of them are excellent but our winner hails from Italy and has performed with Guy Davis, Ronnie Earl and many others. For this release he traveled to Texas to capture the blues that emanated from there over the years and with an All-Star cast.
International Release of the Year:
Fabrizio Poggi (Italy): The Amazing Texas Blues Voices
Monkey Junk (Canada): Time To Roll
Matty T. Wall (Austrailia): Blue Skies
Andria Simone (Canada) – Evolve
Igor Prado & Raphael Wressnig (Brazil/Austria) – The Soul Connection
New artists debut records, no ‘splainin’ here, Lucy. There were many more that could be here, but we have a limit of five per category. This cat’s release had a fresh feel and hard edge that rang true for a band out of Chicago. If you get a chance to see him and his band do it.
Best Debut Release:
Corey Dennison Band: Corey Dennison Band
Brother Brown: Dusty Road
Jordan Patterson: Back On Track Recording Project
Shoji Nato: New Cool Old School
Rose City Kings: A Love So Strong
Welcome back’ it ain’t just for Mr. Kotter anymore, though I’d love to see a new release from John B. Sebastian and his Jug Band. So 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 to our winner, it’s been hard road back, but glad you are here back where you belong.
Welcome Back Release:
Annika Chambers: Wild & Free
Rev. Billy C. Wirtz: Full Circle
King Edward: 50 Years of Blues
William Bell: This Is Where I Live
Matthew Skoller: Blues Immigrant
Rock blues – Blues rock…whatever, we can split hairs over a Bacon Manhattan at the Roasating Room later. Now let’s see who takes home the Jimi Award. And there really is a difference between the two categories.
Rock/Blues Release of The Year:
Too Slim & The Taildraggers: Blood Moon
Albert Castiglia: Big Dog
Bridget Kelly Band: Outta The Blues
Chase Walker Band: Not Quite Legal
Jeremiah Johnson: Blues Heart Attack
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,and others who we have not mentioned. Our winner has consistently been turning out contemporary blues laced with soul, R&B and traditional colors and is one cat who deserves this award and some genre wide recognition.
Best Contemporary Release:
the soul of john black: Early in The Moanin’
Markey Blues: The Blues Are A Knockin’
The Lucky Losers: In AnyTown
Dennis Jones Band: Both Sides of The Track
Nick Moss Band: From The Root To The Fruit
Youth is now being served There are so many young folks playing the blues these days, that sometimes it’s hard to differentiate the posers from the real deals.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 choice has been playing out there for a few years located in Chicago and had the pleasure of seeing him at The Chicago Blues Festival. There are many others who did not make the list this year but am sure they will be here next year or have appeared in the past.
The Thrill Is Now (Comin’ Up Youth Award):
Jamiah Rogers (Guitar)
David Julia (Guitar)
Logan Layman (Bass/Vocals)
Marcus King (Guitar)
Chase Walker (Guitar)
Women sang them Blues – Vocals are the very root of the blues, as it is a spoken art form in it’s origins. These ladies can make you cry, laugh or make you wanna rock it all night long. Here we honor the instrument known as voice and the ladies who bring it. Out of these great choices comes our winner and she never fails to deliver the goods with deep down soul and passion that elevates all around her.
Alexis P. Suter
Now for the men who also sing so well. Classically trained, can be so sweet that them panties just fly up to the stage. But he also connects with the men in a way they understand. I am thrilled to give some love to this cat, and maybe shine a light on him for others to see.
NEW – 20 feet or so from stardom This is a new category. It honors those artists who are not the front liners, the ‘stars’ those folks who sing background or harmonies, or play with a variety fo bands when needed because they are that good and are in demand. Our winner this provides a certain kind of light to the stage and please remember all these folks are worthy of your love and support.
20 Feet Or So From Stardom Award:
Vicki Bell (Alexis P. Suter Band – vocals and more)
Phil Pemberton (Roomful of Blues/AndyT Band – vocals)
Danny Banks (John Nemeth – drums/harmonies)
Chris Vitarello (Bruce Katz/Chris O’Leary/Bruce Trucks Freight Train Band – guitar vocals)
Dave Keyes (Popa Chubby/Slam Allen/Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound – key boards)
With so many artists including instrumentals on their releases, we figure it’s time to honor them for their much appreciated efforts. Personally we love that artists are doing more instrumentals and this track is a great mash up of blues, surf and more. It shows off a style and approach to music few have.
Best Instrumental Song:
JimmyThackery & The Drivers: Same Page On Demand
Bruce Katz: Out From The Center (Hippie Song)
Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters: In Memory of T-Bone
Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch: Lament for Evelyn McHale
Mudcat – Sarah
The guitar has ruled the blues for quite some time. But these cats are unlike the followers and posers, they all lead from the front. Well, all ya gotta do is say his name to other guitar players and you will see why he is at the top. It has been so exicting to see this young man grow into a force in the blues guitar world. Congratulations!
Monster Mike Welch
Guitars are not just toys for the boys. We have a long history of ladies playing the guitar and doing it with an amazing degree of excellence. I have had the honor of seeing this lady several times and each time she just amazes the crowds. A video of her went viral and everyone was like ‘who is this?’ well, we’ve known her all along and we are excited at being able to recognize her.
Badazz bass is always a fun category. The bassist holds the bottom end down and makes the beat sweet. This years winner was in the running last year and after a yar of world travelling he has shown he can wow them in Budapest as well as Birmingham. Animated as well as technically proficient our winner has it all. A welcome back to Mark Bumgarner as he has recovered and is paying again.
Bill Ruffino (Jeff Jensen)
Larry Williams (Mike Wheeler)
Michael ‘Mudcat’ Ward (Sugar Ray & The Bluetones)
Danielle Nicole (TUF/Danielle Nicole Band)
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 simply breathtaking and he plays with many upper tier blues bands as well as his own very successful band.
Radiating Them 88’s Piano/Keys Award:
Larry Van Loon
Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne
We left off a ton of harp players from our list, not as an oversight but again to get some light on some others who are out there. Our winner is back on track and working his skinny little backside off – playing with his own band, offering assistance to others and getting his harp groove back on with his band ‘the Bad Kind’.
Harmonica Player Award:
Sugar Ray Norcia
Big Harp George
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 keeping the big beat alive in NYC, LA and almost everywhere else, big bad daddy on the drums for sure.
Drum Thumper Award:
Sonny Rock (Tas Cru)
Ralph Rosen (Bruce Katz)
Danny Banks (John Nemeth)
Patrick Seals (NMB)
Jeffrey ‘Shakey’ Fowlkes (Too Slim & The Taildraggers)
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 unique talent and his instrument of choice is also such.
Bing Futch – Dulcimer
Doug Woolverton – Trumpet
Vanessa Collier – Sax
Professor Louie – Accordian
Evelyn Rubio – Sax
Every year I find some wonderful titles on the releases I get. This year was no exception. Our winner not only had the title to go with it but the music on it was exceptionally gritty and lived up to the release title.
Coolest Release Title:
Eddie Turner: Naked…and in your face
Big Harp George: Wash My Horse In Champagne
Little G. Weevil: Three Chords Too Many
Alabama Mike: Upset The Status Quo
Charlie Wheeler Band: Blues Karma & The Kitchen Sink
Even in this day and age literature can help soothe the savage beast, it can offer escape and add knowledge to your being. This year’s book I had the privelege of reading before it’s release and offering a quote for the back of the book. That is not the reason for it’s award – it deserves it for capturing in their word how life was back in the not too distant past. A must read for historians and blues fans everywhere.
Blues Book of The Year:
Bars, Booze and Blues: Stories From The Drink House (Emily D. Edwards)
Lives of Poets With Guitars: (Ray Robertson)
Cross Dog Blues (Richard M. Brock)
Blues Hands (Joseph Rosen)
Talking Music 2 (Holger Petersen)
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. There were so many exceptional songs this year, it was quite difficult for me to select ONE. But that’s what this is for, so our winner is a wonderfully crafted song that perfectly captures a defining moment in the life of one amazing artist.
Song Of the Year:
Love Wins Again – Janiva Magness
The Chicago Way – Toronzo Cannon
Come Together – Tweed Funk
Walk A Mile In My Blues – Curtis Salgado
Where The Devil Makes His Deal – Albert Castiglia
Another category with exceptional choices. If you notice each is way different from the other – a tribute to the artists who are represented here. Our winner is just exploding on the scene after years of toiling in his hometown Chicago. Bus driver by day and hard workin’ bluesman by night, I cannot be happier than to present him with this award.
Album Of The Year:
The Chicago Way – Toronzo Cannon
Love Wins Again – Janiva Magness
Both Sides of The Track – Dennis Jones
It Won’t Stop Raining – Shaun Murphy
The Amazing Texas Blues Voices – Fabrizio Poggi et. al
We frickin’ love festivals, in case you didn’t notice. We support and work with certain ones and we attend as many 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. Just celebrating their 25th year of bringing the Blues to Pennsylvania this festival is a must for true blues fans.
Festival of the Year:
Pennsylvania Blues Festival
Chicago Blues Festival
Savannah Jazz Festival
Greenwood Blues Cruise
Street Music Concert Series (Port Royal. SC)
We can’t 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. Our winner has far exceeded any expectations that we had for anyone. She took it on herself to broadcast LIVE on Facebook fromvenues and events drawing many new fans into our fold, put us in contact with folks who might and did become DJs on the radio end, thanks sister-wife 1A1.
Outstanding Fan/Supporter of Blues411:
Jordon Ross/The Roasting Room
So that’s it for a tumultuous 2016, a year that has seen many a fine artist cross over that rainbow bridge to the other side. Let’s take a moment to reflect on what they have given us. As for the artists listed here, be sure to check out their web sites and concerts. Buy their CD’s – each and every one of them deserves your support, as do the others who unfortunately did not make the list.
The time is right to be giving the gift of the blues so any of these folks music 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.
Not to forget our, year old, 24/7/365 radio station with nine DJ’s and always the best blues that you can find:
Blues411 Internet Radio http://listen.samcloud.com/w/71723/Blues411
TuneIn Radio http://tunein.com/radio/Blues411-Radio-s261461
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.
pre-jimi award post
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Chefjimi & Leslie K.Joseph
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411