The 2022 Blues Music Awards winners

Here are the nominees and winners of the 2022 Blues Music Awards, held at the Renasant Convention Center in Memphis, May 5, sponsored by the Blues Foundation.

B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
WINNER: Tommy Castro
Eric Gales
Mr. Sipp (Castro Coleman)
J.P. Soars
Sugaray Rayford

Album of the Year
Holler If You Hear Me, Altered Five Blues Band
Not In My Lifetime, Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
Pinky’s Blues, Sue Foley
Raisin’ Cain, Chris Cain
WINNER: Tommy Castro Presents a Bluesman Came to Town, Tommy Castro

Band of the Year
Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
J.P. Soars and the Red Hots
Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials
Sugaray Rayford Band
WINNER: Tommy Castro & The Painkillers

Song of the Year
“Fragile Peace and Certain War”, written by Dave Alvin (performed by Carolyn Wonderland)
“Holler If You Hear Me”, written by Jeff Schroedl & Mark Solveson (performed by Altered Five Blues Band)
WINNER: “I’d Climb Mountains,” written & performed by Selwyn Birchwood
“Real Good Lie”, written by Christine Vitale, Larry Batiste, Anthony Paule (performed by Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra)
“Somewhere”, written by Tommy Castro & Tom Hambridge (performed by Tommy Castro & The Painkillers)

Best Emerging Artist Album
GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It… You Might Like It!, GA-20
Just Say The Word, Gabe Stillman
WINNER: Live on Beale Street: A Tribute to Bobby “Blue” Bland, Rodd Bland and the Members Only Band
Welcome To The Land, Memphissippi Sounds
You Ain’t Unlucky, Veronica Lewis

Acoustic Blues Album
WINNER: Dear America, Eric Bibb
Land of the Sky, Catfish Keith
Let’s Get Happy Together, Maria Muldaur
Let Loose These Chains, Hector Anchondo
The Trio Sessions, EG Kight

Blues Rock Album
Alafia Moon, Damon Fowler
Dance Songs For Hard Times, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
WINNER: Resurrection, Mike Zito
Tinfoil Hat, Popa Chubby
Unemployed Highly Annoyed, Jeremiah Johnson

Contemporary Blues Album
WINNER: 662, Kingfish
Damage Control, Curtis Salgado
Holler If You Hear Me, Altered Five Blues Band
Raisin’ Cain, Chris Cain
Tommy Castro Presents A Bluesman Came To Town, Tommy Castro

Soul Blues Album
Let’s Have A Party, Gerald McClendon
WINNER: Long As I Got My Guitar, Zac Harmon
Not In My Lifetime, Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
You Get What You Give: Duets, Dave Keller
You Gotta Have It, Tia Carroll

Traditional Blues Album
Be Ready When I Call You, Guy Davis
Bob Corritore & Friends: Spider In My Stew, Bob Corritore
Boogie w/ R.L. Boyce (Live), R.L. Boyce
Little Black Flies, Eddie 9V
WINNER: Pinky’s Blues, Sue Foley

Acoustic Blues Artist
Eric Bibb
Kevin Burt
Guy Davis
Doug MacLeod
WINNER: Keb’ Mo’

Blues Rock Artist
WINNER: Albert Castiglia
Tommy Castro
Tinsley Ellis
Ana Popovic
Joanne Shaw Taylor

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
WINNER: Vanessa Collier
Thornetta Davis
Ruthie Foster
Danielle Nicole
Carolyn Wonderland

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Selwyn Birchwood
Chris Cain
WINNER: Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Kenny Neal
Mr. Sipp (Castro Coleman)

Soul Blues Female Artist
WINNER: Annika Chambers
Trudy Lynn
Terrie Odabi
Kat Riggins
Vaneese Thomas

Soul Blues Male Artist
William Bell
Don Bryant
John Nemeth
Johnny Rawls
WINNER: Curtis Salgado

Traditional Blues Female Artist (Koko Taylor Award)
Rory Block
WINNER: Sue Foley
Rhiannon Giddens
Diunna Greenleaf
EG Kight

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Cedric Burnside
Super Chikan
WINNER: Taj Mahal
Sugar Ray Norcia
Jontavious Willis

Instrumentalist – Bass
Willie J. Campbell
Larry Fulcher
Jerry Jemmott
Scot Sutherland
WINNER: Danielle Nicole

Instrumentalist – Drums
Danny Banks
June Core
WINNER: Tom Hambridge
Derrick D’Mar Martin
Chris Peet

Instrumentalist – Guitar
Christoffer “Kid” Andersen
Chris Cain
Laura Chavez
Anson Funderburgh
WINNER: Eric Gales
J.P. Soars

Instrumentalist – Harmonica
Billy Branch
Bob Corritore
WINNER: Jason Ricci
Brandon Santini
Kim Wilson

Instrumentalist – Horn
Mindi Abair
WINNER: Jimmy Carpenter
Marc Franklin
Regi Oliver
Nancy Wright

Instrumentalist – Piano (Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Award)
Eden Brent
WINNER: Mike Finnigan
Dave Keyes
Veronica Lewis
Jim Pugh

Instrumentalist – Vocals
Thornetta Davis
Ruthie Foster
WINNER: John Nemeth
Sugaray Rayford
Curtis Salgado

Roadhouse album review: Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters deliver eloquent “Mercy Me”

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters — “Mercy Me” — Stony Plain Records

On his 28th album in his 45-year career, Ronnie Earl shows that his impeccable guitar talents only seem to have gotten better.

Earl’s touch and tone are minimalist but eloquent, each note virtually its own musical statement, combining for a magical depth of feeling and soulfulness

Earl also makes creative use of instrumentals — there are seven here. You don’t usually find that many on a single album, and you especially don’t find many as elegant as the second track, “Alabama,” Earl’s cover of and tribute to the legendary saxophonist/composer, John Coltrane.

The album opener, “Blow Wind Blow,” is exactly the opposite — a bluesy, rousing version of the Muddy Waters song, featuring the Broadcasters’ fine vocalist, Diane Blue. That’s the kind of mood shift that the Broadcasters handle with ease. The band sounds equally at home in a tough blues cover or a stylish interpretation of a great jazz tune.

There are also a couple more “tribute” songs, both instrumental originals by Earl: “Blues for Duke Robillard” and the acoustic departure of “Blues for Ruthie Foster,” a guitar duet with guest Peter Ward. Both are overflowing with Earl’s liquid guitar, taking its time to make certain that every note is the only one to express that feeling.

Another great cover is a beautifully extended 11-minute version of Percy Mayfield’s classic “Please Send Me Someone to Love,” with a sweet-toned guitar counterpoint for Diane Blue’s sultry vocals, and some tasty guitar, sax and B3 solos loitering in the background. It’s gorgeous.

“Coal Train Blues” is fine little blues instrumental; a Ronnie Earl master class in tasteful, understated blues that manages to speak volumes more than the sum of its notes, and shifts into an even lower, gear about halfway through.

Another favorite is “Only You Know and I Know,” the Dave Mason song that became a rocking staple for Delanie and Bonnie, again with Diane Blue bringing it home.

The album was titled “Mercy Me” “as I was thinking about all the things going on in the world,” Earl says about his inspiration. “We need to have more mercy for the world, for other people and for ourselves. I love playing the blues, and the session was so enjoyable. The band was focused, and we came together as one.” And Earl produced the effort himself.

So, mercy me, there’s a lot of excellent music here to absorb and enjoy.


Historical Note: The band was named after one of the first Fender guitars, distributed in 1950, which originally had been labeled The Broadcaster. The first group of Broadcasters included Darrell Nulisch (vocalist), Jerry Portnoy (harmonica), Steve Gomes (bass), and Per Hanson (drums).

Here’s some more music from the album:

Tracklist:

1. Blow Wind Blow, McKinley Morganfield, Diane Blue vocal 6:57
2. Alabama ,John Coltrane 5:08
3. Blues for Ruthie Foster, Ronnie Earl 5.23
4. Soul Searching Ronnie Earl, Kaz Kazanoff 4:35
5. Blues for Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl 7:41
6. Only You Know and I Know, Dave Mason, Diane Blue vocal 7:03
7. A Prayer for Tomorrow, Anthony Geraci, Ronnie Earl 6:00
8. Dave’s Groove, Ronnie Earl, Dave Limina, Forrest Padgett 6:51
9. Please Send Me Someone to Love, Percy Mayfield, Diane Blue vocal 10:46
10. Coal Train Blues, Ronnie Earl 5:02
11. The Sun Shines Brightly, Ronnie Earl & Diane Blue, Diane Blue vocal 8:33
12. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher, Carl Smith, Gary Jackson; Diane Blue vocal 5:55

Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters

Ronnie Earl – Guitar, Dave Limina – Piano and Hammond B3, Diane Blue – Vocals, Forrest Padgett – Drums, Paul Kochanski – Electric and Upright Bass 

Guest Musicians

Anthony Geraci – Piano 
Mark Earley – Baritone Sax 
Mario Perrett – Tenor Sax
Peter Ward, Guitar 
Tess Ferraiolo – Vocals

Anthony Geraci  1, 7, 10, 11 
Peter Ward  1, 3, 7, 10, 11 
Mario Perrett   2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12   
Mark Earley  2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12
Tess Ferraiolo  12
Paul Kochanski vocals and bass on 6

Roadhouse Public Service: The Living Blues 2021 Readers Poll

Living Blues is one of the premier blues publications, and has been since its U.S. inception in1970, when it was the first American blues magazine.

In its May 2022 issue, the magazine announced its nominees for its 2021 Living Blues Readers’ Poll Awards.

Living Blues readers and others may vote before June 15, 2022.

Vote here for a nominee or write in your own choice in each category.

If you’re not a subscriber, voting enables you to get $10 off on a new subscription. (They do want your email address. No big deal. Everybody probably already has it!)

How can you lose?

Roadhouse album review: The Nighthawks celebrate 50 hard-rocking years with “Established 1972”

The Nighthawks — “Established 1972” — VizzTone

If The Nighthawks don’t belong in the Roadhouse, I don’t know who does.

This Washington, D.C. band has been bringing its brand of hard-rocking blues and generally house-rocking music for 50 years, and they sound just as tough now as they did a half-century ago.

They’re well-known for their chops as a rugged bar band, with harp-master Mark Wenner up front since the beginning. But they’ve appeared with everyone from Carl Perkins to Muddy Waters, so their sound defies any label beyond great American roots music.

One of the band’s unique qualities is how well the quartet works together. Mark Stutso, drummer; Dan Hovey, guitar; and Paul Pisciotta, bass, all share vocals and kick in their share of words for songwriting on the 14 tracks. The result is a smoothness that comes from years of knowing exactly where each song is going.

This music draws inspiration from everywhere — and it’s always inspired. Hovey’s “Driving” is almost pure acoustic country, his “You Seem Distant” rocks with a message, a cover of Elvis Presley’s version of “Ain’t That Lovin’ You” is tough rockabilly, Stutso created the raucous “Gas Station Chicken,” “Take It Slow” has bluesy Jimmy Reed vibes — and so it goes, with the ‘Hawks soaring on their now almost-timeless tradition of just damn good music.

And they’re still running hard on the road, so if you’re somewhere on the East Coast trail they roam, don’t miss them. If you’re lucky, you might catch them in a sparkling two-fer show with Pittsburgh’s outstanding blue-eyed soul guy, Billy Price.

I’ve been a witness to a bunch of these shows, and I can testify to their unlimited fun power. Can we get some more witnesses?


A brief history of the The Nighthawks


I couldn’t find any video from this album, but here’s a concert video from 2018:

Album Tracklist:
01 – Nobody
02 – You Seem Distant
03 – I’ll Come Running Back To You
04 – Coming And Going
05 – Take It Slow
06 – Johnny Too Bad
07 – Ask Me Nice
08 – West Memphis
09 – Ain’t That Lovin You
10 – Gas Station Chicken
11 – Houseband
12 – Fuss And Fight
13 – Run Red Run
14 – Driving

Roadhouse album review: Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder revisit great old blues with the joyful “Get On Board”

Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder — “Get On Board” — Nonesuch Records

The album cover of the new release, above, with the original from 1952, below. Note the different songs.

Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal have finally created their second album together. Their first was in 1968, when Cooder played on Mahal’s solo debut, “Taj Mahal.”

This time, it’s a joyous tribute to some of their roots, which are deeply embedded in Americana, world music, folk and blues. They’ve re-created (with a few changes) the 1952 “Get On Board” album by the legendary folk-blues duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, purveyors of the classic Piedmont blues style.

They’ve recorded a few of the original songs, but then they dip into the Terry-McGhee catalogue for a fresh selection. This album has more of a joyous house party vibe, with just Taj and Ry holding forth in Cooder’s son Joachim’s house (he added bass and drums.)

Mahal, nearly 80, and Cooder, 75, are seasoned veterans, and they show their age and experience in the best possible way — with a relaxed confidence and exuberance that makes for an album of pure musical enjoyment.

Cooder plays guitar, mandolin and banjo; Mahal plays harp, guitar and piano, while they share the vocals, trading leads and background encouragement. Their enjoyment is contagious. Aside from a few overdubs, each song was done in “just one take, with live vocals”, Cooder says. That live approach makes for great listening.

Their style here is a little tougher than the originals, but just as fine in their own way. And you get the advantage of more modern recording, which, coupled with the living room setting, adds an essential and rewarding spontaneity.

One raucous take is the addition of the delightful, ever-popular, rock ‘n’ roll-flavored “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee,” not incidentally written by Granville Henry “Stick” McGhee, or Stick McGhee, Brownie’s younger brother.

My favorite track is the opener, not on the original, the hard-driving “My Baby Done Changed the Lock on the Door.” But every cut is good old-fashioned blues at its best. Cooder and Mahal are definitely showing their age with the talents it takes to make this kind of exuberant music.

Here’s an interview on “The Making of ‘Get On Board'”

Here’s a video of the song “Hooray Hooray”

Tracklist:

Roadhouse album review: Bonnie Raitt is back, and “Just Like That…” stronger than ever

Bonnie Raitt — “Just Like That …” — Redwing Records

I’ve been a fan of Bonnie Raitt since I heard her first album, “Bonnie Raitt,” in 1971, a wonderful pastiche of blues, folk, rock and Raitt’s own musical persona, plus a bunch of her talented friends. (Her eclectic and talented supporting cast, for you blues fans, included A.C. Reed on sax and Junior Wells on harp on several songs.)

But just like that, just a tick over a half-century later, Raitt is still making magical music virtually undimmed by time with her 21st album, “Just Like That …” her first in six years.

This one is also eclectic, drawing strength from Raitt’s four original songs among the ten thoughtfully written and played compositions on this beautifully crafted, self-produced album. If anything, her vocals are stronger than ever, filled with passion and compassion for the subject at hand, whether it’s sweet love or sorrowful loss.

The haunting title track is one of those originals, the story of a woman comforted by the man who received her son’s transplanted heart. It’s a powerful acoustic gem.

The album is filled with songs of love, longing and loss, but it’s never trite or maudlin, thanks to skillful songwriting, and Raitt’s knowledge as a vocalist, finding hope and optimism in the humanity of her outlook. She’s also pulled together a group of her long-time bandmates, who contribute a spare but pulsive backdrop for every mood.

I don’t mean to make this sound like a dark and depressing album. Quite contrary. Raitt has taken thoughtful topics — losses to Covid, for example — and created joyful remembrances. In the hard-rocking “Livin’ for the Ones,” she sings: “I’m livin’ for the ones who didn’t make it, cut down through no fault of their own….” amid the punchy rhythms.

There are some more traditional touches of heartache and heartbreak in tracks like “”Here Comes Love,” “Something’s Got a Hold of My Heart, “the album opener “Made Up Mind,” and “Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart.”

Then there’s one of my favorites, the gorgeously torchy “Blame It on Me,” (“Truth is love’s first casualty….”) with what sounds like her signature slide work and one long, pure note she holds near the end that should make your heart ache with pain and pleasure.

This is an outstanding album, 50 years out, full of great songs, music and Raitt’s still compelling vocals.

Enjoy it soon and often.

Here’s a live performance of “Made Up Mind” on the Kelly Clarkson TV show:

Here’s an excellent interview. It’s worth watching.

Tracklist

  1. Made Up Mind
  2. Something’s Got a Hold of My Heart
  3. Livin’ for the Ones
  4. Just Like That
  5. When We Say Goodnight
  6. Waitin’ For You to Blow
  7. Blame it On Me
  8. Love So Strong
  9. Here Comes Love
  10. Down The Hall