2015 Blues Music Awards Winners

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The awards were handed out in Memphis on Thursday, 7 May. The 36th Blues Music Award winners (in bold) are:

Acoustic Album
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
Timeless – John Hammond

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

Album
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song
“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
“Can’t Even Do Wrong Right” written and performed by Elvin Bishop
“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

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

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

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

Traditional Blues Album
Common Ground: Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy – Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin
For Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters) – Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson
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

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

It’s extremely likely I will be sharing some of my thoughts about the results, so check back. In the meantime, I would be interested in yours. Please comment.

http://www.blues.org/2015/05/36th-blues-music-awards-winners/

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A.C. Myles • Reconsider Me

Myles

A.C. Myles

Reconsider Me

2014

http://acmyles.com/

 

Concentrating on his solo career after some very respectable positions as sideman, including work with Fillmore Slim and a stint with John Németh, the talented Northern California-based singer and guitarist A.C. Myles is set to release his second solo album (after a live record, now out of print) very soon. I was privileged to hear an advance copy of Reconsider Me!

Produced by Kid Andersen at his Greaseland studio, Reconsider Me! spotlights Myles’s tough guitar playing and devastating singing. Its playlist is designed to touch on some of Myles’s influences and professional associates. Nearly half of the set consists of rockers. “Livin’ A Lie” owes much to Johnny Winter’s flamboyant 1970s recordings. Interesting sections and tempo shifts give the song a complex, hard edge that is softened, slightly, by an anthemic, radio-ready chorus. On the pumping boogie “Three Ways To Fall,” Myles evokes the sound of Winter’s Alligator period, positively nailing his slide guitar style and vocal mannerisms. The swaggering rocker “Call ‘em All Baby” is marked by hammering piano and sweet backing vocals over the chorus, with harmonized lead guitars emphasizing its unmistakable inspiration in Southern rock. Myles turns in a fierce and funky version of Rory Gallagher’s “Do You Read Me,” and transforms “Rock My Soul” into something a bit less country-fried than Elvin Bishop’s original, tipping a hat to the revival-tent enthusiasm of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends and including some very Clapton-esque guitar playing. Myles’s powerful voice is well suited to these rocking numbers, and–to judge by his enthusiastic screams–he has a blast singing them.

Blues are amply represented on Reconsider Me! Myles adapts Fillmore Slim’s superbad version of “Blue Monday” in an arrangement built on percolating drums and bass, organ and funky keyboards, and wah-wah guitar. His vocal is lovely and soulful, the guitar solo and chicken-picked fills perfectly conceived. Myles’s guitar absolutely stings on the gritty “Queen Bee,” with rubbery bends, wild double-stops, and killer instinct straight out of ‘60s-era Buddy Guy. “Death Bed Blues,” a slowish, midtempo straight blues with a relaxed shuffle feel, lands in the West Coast neighborhood of Lowell Fulson, groove-wise, with elegant guitar lines that could have come from Fenton Robinson, whose “You Don’t Know What Love Is” appears here, fleshed out with percussion and electric piano, with sublime guitar and a beautiful vocal. The entire album, in fact, is wonderfully sung, but the title track merits special attention. The country soul classic by Johnny Adams gets a simple, effective arrangement of rhythm section, organ, Floyd Cramer-style piano, and guitar, and while the Tan Canary is often cited as one of the best pure singers to work in blues and R&B, Myles’s performance yields nothing. Subtle shifts in timbre give his voice a country feeling; his phrasing is devastatingly expressive; and his glides into falsetto during the choruses are breathtaking. “Reconsider Me” is a show-stopper.

One number splits the difference between the rockers and the blues songs. “What Is Love” was originally done by The Loved Ones, a great and underappreciated Oakland-based band whose two albums on Hightone achieved a potent distillation of the rock-and-soul of the early Rolling Stones, the mid-‘60s R&B-on-the-cusp-of-funk of James Brown, blues attitude à la Junior Wells, and a faultless pop sensibility. Obviously Myles remembers them fondly, too, for he recreates their highly original sound flawlessly. Three cheers!

While it is likely that the purists won’t admit to liking everything here, they will surely find the blues-based material deeply enjoyable. It is also likely that those who perhaps came for the rock-inflected songs will stay to hear the soul and blues, and that non-purists will love all of Reconsider Me! That makes A.C. Myles’s new album just the sort of gateway drug I thoroughly endorse. Reconsider Me! promises to provide some of the most memorable moments of 2014.

 

TOM HYSLOP

 

The artist kindly provided the review copy of this CD.

Let It Slide

koch

Sterling Koch

Let It Slide

Full Force Music, 2013

 

www.sterlingkoch.com

 

In the almost ten years since a neck injury made it impossible for him to play guitar in the customary manner, the Pennsylvania-based guitarist Sterling Koch has become a proficient, assured slide guitarist. Koch plays exclusively in the lap steel style. Despite his friendship and association with several of the Sacred Steel school of players from the COGIC tradition, including Calvin Cooke, Aubrey Ghent, and Darick Campbell, Koch’s playing is staunchly in the style of blues rockers like Rory Gallagher and George Thorogood. His recently released fifth album, Let It Slide, delivers 13 solid blues rock songs.

For all its rock feel, Slide remains centered in blues. The mid-tempo shuffle “Too Sorry,” a Doyle Bramhall composition, features a solo that begins with variations on a rhythmic pattern before easing into Duane Allman-like high register playing. A second solo is just as effective. Koch turns up the heat on “Wrong Side Of The Blues,” an uptempo box shuffle, when he steps on a wah pedal during his stormy solo, and on his cover of Rick Vito’s “My Baby’s Hot,” where he supercharges Elmore’s trademark “Dust My Broom” licks and shows a playful side in fills that whip up the neck of the guitar. The cover of “It Hurts Me Too” may be leagues away from Tampa Red or Elmore James, but is well within bluesy territory. Koch’s singing and playing here are notably strong.

Several boogie-style numbers are especially successful. A cover of Bramhall’s “Shape I’m In” opens the set with an insistent, redlining pulse. Chuck Berry’s old trick of mixing feels, in which the guitar plays straight time against a shuffle rhythm, is resurrected (here inverted, so that the guitar plays the shuffle feel while the rhythm section plays straight eighth notes) to excellent effect. Koch’s high-energy “I Wanna Be Your Driver” not only takes one of Berry’s favorite subjects (the automobile) as his central metaphor, but proves that his patented “Johnny B. Goode” moves can be replicated by a slide guitarist. Koch updates K.C. Douglas’s Oakland blues classic “Mercury Boogie,” adopting the “Let’s Work Together” groove pioneered in the later “Mercury Blues” version of the song by Steve Miller. The figure Koch repeats as an instrumental hook is downright primitive–and irresistibly appealing.

On the subtler side, the slow, bluesy “I Only Want To Be With You” sports a cool chromatic figure and a keen dynamic sensibility, building in drama before a well-constructed guitar solo. Not the Doc Pomus-penned Ray Charles number, Koch’s “Lonely Avenue,” a moody instrumental with a lyrical edge reminiscent perhaps of Fleetwood Mac during the Green-Kirwan-Spencer era, is among the most powerful pieces on the album.

Koch recorded Slide with his working rhythm section of Gene Babula (bass) and John Goba (drums). While the tandem is never very loose, and doesn’t swing much, I have to say I don’t miss that flavor in this context. The reliable, keep-it-simple approach works perfectly, and although the feel is pretty firmly in the rock camp, it is never overbearing, nor is it tiresome to listen to. Koch’s vocals are a bit flat in affect, but competent, capable, and never mannered (a big plus in my book). And he can play guitar, beyond any question, but avoids pyrotechnics: his tones, leads, and rhythm parts never get much heavier than Billy Gibbons’s. Restraint of this sort is too rare among blues rockers, and much appreciated here. Let It Slide will surely be welcomed by those with a taste for the music of Johnny Winter or early ZZ Top.

 

TOM HYSLOP

 

Review copy provided by Frank Roszak Radio Promotions.