2014 Blues Music Awards Winners

major2_hvr_02Congratulations to the winners, announced in Memphis on 2014-05-08. As usual, I am out of step with the voters, with my favorite candidates often drastically at variance with the popular choices (where the winners in a few cases were my absolute last choices). I am laughing to keep from crying as I reveal my batting average: .087. I voted for precisely two winners in the 23 categories decided by public ballot. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts, if any. Are you satisfied or outraged by the results?

In the unlikely event this blog is your sole source of news regarding the BMAs, I present again the complete list of 35th Blues Music Award nominees, now with winners in bold type:

Acoustic Album
There’s a Time – Doug MacLeod
Juba Dance – Guy Davis featuring Fabrizio Poggi
Soulscape – Harrison Kennedy
Avalon – Rory Block
Unleashed – The Hound Kings

Acoustic Artist
Doug MacLeod
Guy Davis
Harrison Kennedy
Little G Weevil
Rory Block

Album
Get Up! – Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
Remembering Little Walter – Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia & James Harman
Rhythm & Blues – Buddy Guy
Cotton Mouth Man – James Cotton
Blues in My Soul – Lurrie Bell

B.B. King Entertainer
Bobby Rush
Buddy Guy
John Németh
Kim Wilson
Rick Estrin

Band
Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials
Rick Estrin & the Night Cats
Tedeschi Trucks Band
The Mannish Boys
Trampled Under Foot

Best New Artist Debut
Double Crossing Blues – Adrianna Marie and Her Groovecutters
Rooster – Clay Swafford
Proof of Love – Gracie Curran & the High Falutin’ Band
What’s the Chance… – Paul Gabriel
Daddy Told Me – Shawn Holt & the Teardrops
Pushin’ Against a Stone – Valerie June

Contemporary Blues Album
Get Up! – Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
This Time Another Year – Brandon Santini
Rhythm & Blues – Buddy Guy
Magic Honey – Cyril Neville
Badlands – Trampled Under Foot

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Ana Popovic
Beth Hart
Bettye LaVette
Candye Kane
Susan Tedeschi

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Buddy Guy
Gary Clark Jr.
Johnny Sansone
Kim Wilson
Otis Taylor

DVD
High John Records – Time Brings About a Change (Floyd Dixon)
J&R Adventures – An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House (Joe Bonamassa)
Shake-It-Sugar Records – Live (Murali Coryell)
Ruf Records – Songs from the Road (Royal Southern Brotherhood)
Blue Star Connection – Live at Knuckleheads (The Healers)

Historical
The Sun Blues Box (Various Artists) – Bear Family
The Original Honeydripper (Roosevelt Sykes) – Blind Pig Records
The Jewel/Paula Blues Story (Various Artists) – Fuel Records
Death Might Be Your Santa Claus (Various Artists) – Legacy Recordings
The Complete King/Federal Singles (Freddie King) – Real Gone Music

Instrumentalist-Bass
Bill Stuve
Bob Stroger
Danielle Schnebelen
Larry Taylor
Patrick Rynn

Instrumentalist-Drums
Cedric Burnside
Jimi Bott
Kenny Smith
Tom Hambridge
Tony Braunagel

Instrumentalist-Guitar
Anson Funderburgh
Gary Clark Jr.
Kid Andersen
Lurrie Bell
Ronnie Earl

Instrumentalist-Harmonica
Brandon Santini
Charlie Musselwhite
James Cotton
Kim Wilson
Rick Estrin

Instrumentalist-Horn
Big James Montgomery
Eddie Shaw
Jimmy Carpenter
Sax Gordon
Terry Hanck

Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female)
Diunna Greenleaf
Lavelle White
Teeny Tucker
Trudy Lynn
Zora Young

Rock Blues Album
Gone to Texas – Mike Zito & the Wheel
Made Up Mind – Tedeschi Trucks Band
Can’t Get Enough – The Rides
John the Conquer Root – Toronzo Cannon
Luther’s Blues – Walter Trout

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Barrelhouse Chuck
Dave Keyes
Marcia Ball
Mike Finnigan
Victor Wainwright

Song
“Blues in My Soul” – Lurrie Bell
“He Was There” – James Cotton, Tom Hambridge & Richard Fleming
“That’s When the Blues Begins” – James Goode
“The Entitled Few” – Doug MacLeod
“The Night the Pie Factory Burned Down” – Johnny Sansone

Soul Blues Album
Down In Louisiana – Bobby Rush
Soul Changes – Dave Keller
Soul for Your Blues – Frank Bey & Anthony Paule Band
Remembering O. V. – Johnny Rawls
Truth Is (Putting Love Back Into the Music) – Otis Clay

Soul Blues Female Artist
Barbara Carr
Denise LaSalle
Dorothy Moore
Irma Thomas
Sista Monica

Soul Blues Male Artist
Bobby Rush
Frank Bey
John Németh
Johnny Rawls
Otis Clay

Traditional Blues Album
Driftin’ from Town to Town – Barrelhouse Chuck & Kim Wilson’s Blues All-Stars
Remembering Little Walter – Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia, James Harman
Cotton Mouth Man – James Cotton
Blues in My Soul – Lurrie Bell
Black Toppin’ – The Cash Box Kings

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Anson Funderburgh
Billy Boy Arnold
James Cotton
John Primer
Lurrie Bell

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Macy Blackman & The Mighty Fines • I Didn’t Want To Do It

Macy Blackman

Macy Blackman & The Mighty Fines

I Didn’t Want To Do It

MamaRu Records, 2013

http://www.macyblackman.com/

The pianist Macy Blackman, a longtime music educator and piano expert, has been an active performer since the 1960s, specializing in jazz and rhythm and blues, and in particular the R&B music of New Orleans. He has just released his third album with his band The Mighty Fines. The 14 tracks on I Didn’t Want To Do It supply everything necessary for a rollicking good time except the partygoers.

The rock-solid Mighty Fines are Jack Dorsey or Adam Goodhue (drums), Bing Nathan (bass), Ken Jacobs (baritone saxophone–delicious!), and Nancy Wright (tenor saxophone, vocals), supporting Blackman (piano), whose singing is excellent and interesting. In contrast to the Mighty Fines’ lively and infectious music, Blackman’s vocal style is pretty far from excitable–not deliberate, exactly; languid perhaps comes closer. Although I have no sense that Blackman is trying to imitate the great Professor Longhair, and any similarity lies more in feeling and attitude than in sonic resemblance, his resonant timbre and playful, yet somehow grave quality do recall Fess. That is no small asset for anyone singing Crescent City music.

The playlist includes standards and obscurities alike, reflecting Blackman’s long history and close involvement with this repertoire. The latter category includes the woozy rocker “Help Yourself,” credited to Allen Toussaint, and “The Good Book,” a brooding, gospel-inflected number in a minor key. Blackman sings the standard “What Do I Tell My Heart” beautifully, his 12/8 piano figure reflecting Fats Domino’s version; the saxophone charts are sublime. Blackman’s friend Dr. John penned the lovely ballad “Just The Same” and, with Doc Pomus, the sly, bouncing “Never Fool Nobody But Me.” More familiar are “Who Shot The La-La,” a classy take on Irma Thomas’s “Somebody Told You” with a solid Wright vocal, the title track–a romp from The Spiders’ catalog with a chorus and a descending hook that you’ll recognize at once if you have ever heard it–and Chris Kenner’s immortal “I Like It Like That,” one of those songs that seems to encapsulate everything about New Orleans music: rippling piano, soul-clap snare hits, honking saxophones, Afro-Caribbean flavor, stop-time rhythms, an instantly memorable melody and lyric.

Blackman draws from other sources as well. The deep soul ballad “Dreams To Remember” is presented in an arrangement not far from Otis Redding’s original, with Blackman, playing the only guitar part on the album, filling Steve Cropper’s role. Blackman’s piano rhythms are quietly spectacular on a jaunty “Something’s Got A Hold On Me.” Wright sings lead on that Etta James classic and on Ike and Tina Turner’s “A Fool In Love,” which is enhanced by a tough sax solo and such delightful touches as the bold fill by Dorsey at 2:31. The Brook Benton-Dinah Washington duet “Rockin’ Good Way,” shorn of strings and its politely rocking, straight-eighth-note rhythm, is recast as a syncopated, shuffling New Orleans strut, and Jackie Wilson’s immortal “Higher And Higher” closes the program on a high note, sounding very much like a one-pass (and maybe one microphone) take that builds on Blackman’s block-chorded introduction, with rowdy hand claps, uninhibited drumming, and wild saxophones creating an irresistible, pure party atmosphere.

That sense of fun is at the heart of what most of us think of when it comes to the R&B of New Orleans, and Macy Blackman & The Mighty Fines convey it perfectly. I Didn’t Want To Do It goes further, showing rarer aspects of New Orleans’s music: Saturday night and Sunday morning, romance and heartbreak, high seriousness and low clowning, all skillfully played and sung.

TOM HYSLOP

I received the review copy of this CD from Blackman’s publicist, PR by DR.