Blues awards: Grammys, BluesWax

2.11.08

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The Grammys came and went last night -- yesterday afternoon, actually, when most of them (110) are really awarded at the pre-telecast ceremony.

There was a webcast, which I watched part of, and I'm told (thank you, Betsie Brown) that it was the first time the blues awards were broadcast.

I caught a segment featuring Koko Taylor, David "Honeyboy" Edwards and Pinetop Perkins -- three legendary performers who represent a giant chunk of blues history.

It's good to see a tribute like this to these great artists, even if it does come at the twilight of their careers and in a place where virtually no one can see it. But most of the people who actually watch the Grammys on TV to see if Amy Winehouse self-destructs might be better served with a history lesson in how American pop music came to be -- plus some fine blues.

But anyway, here's how Grammy came down when it was time to pick winners in the two blues categories (that's right -- 16 tons of music categories, and just two for some of the music that made much of it possible).

It's hard to argue with the two winners, though. The "Mississippi Delta Bluesmen" album honors some great musicians and innovators who helped make the blues what they were. And J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton's "Road to Escondido" was an outstanding effort from two musicians whose work has always been informed by the blues.

Here are the nominees and winners:

Best Traditional Blues Album
"Pinetop Perkins On The 88's - Live In Chicago," Pinetop Perkins
"Live...And In Concert From San Francisco," Otis Rush
"10 Days Out: Blues From The Backroads," Kenny Wayne Shepherd Featuring Various Artists
"Old School," Koko Taylor
(Winner)"Last Of The Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas," Henry James Townsend, Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins, Robert Lockwood, Jr. & David "Honeyboy" Edwards

Best Contemporary Blues Album
"Into The Blues," Joan Armatrading
"Is It News," Doyle Bramhall
(Winner)"The Road To Escondido," JJ Cale & Eric Clapton
"Truth," Robben Ford
"The Scene Of The Crime" Bettye LaVette

Just for fun, here are the results in a couple of sort-of related categories:

Best Traditional Folk Album
"Try Me One More Time," David Bromberg
"Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John," Peter Case
"Banjo Talkin,'" Cathy Fink
(Winner)"Dirt Farmer," Levon Helm >
"Charlie Louvin," Charlie Louvin

I've read good things about Levon Helms' winner here. He's a survivor of The Band, on of the best bands of the '60s and '70s, simply because it captured the essence of timeless music.

Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album
"The Calling," Mary Chapin Carpenter
"My Name Is Buddy," Ry Cooder
(Winner)"Washington Square Serenade," Steve Earle
"Children Running Through," Patty Griffin
"Orphans," Tom Waits

More awards

Blueswax, the online blues magazine released its annual awards for artist and album of 2007 the other day.

Blues-rocker Joe Bonamassa, who treats his guitar like a machine-gun for the blues, was the artist of the year.

Tommy Castro, who turned up in Pittsburgh recently with the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue, won for best album of the year: "Painkiller."

I like awards like Blueswax gives, because they represent fan voting (although that can have its problems, too). Here's how BluesWax describes its process:

"The readers of BluesWax, the largest subscribed Blues publication in the world, have selected their BluesWax Artist of the Year 2007 and BluesWax Album of the Year 2007. During November and December we took your nominations and created a final ballot of five artists and five albums and then for the past few weeks you voted. As the largest subscribed Blues publication in the world, these awards are open to more fans than any other awards in the Blues."

Here were the nominees for the BluesWax categories.

Artist: Joe Bonamassa, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Tommy Castro, Johnny Sansone, Watermelon Slim.

Album: Coming Down - Anders Osborne, Painkiller - Tommy Castro, Poor Man's Paradise - Johnny Sansone, Sloe Gin - Joe Bonamassa, Wheel Man - Watermelon Slim and the Workers.

What about you? Any thoughts on who should get some of these awards? Or maybe you have an award of your own to give.



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