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Maple Blues Award Winners

Maple Blues AwardThe Twelfth Annual Maple Blues Awards were held Monday night, January 19, at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. Jeff Healey and the Jeff Healey Blues Band were recognized with multiple awards as well as a wonderful tribute.

The late great guitarist Jeff Healey, who sadly passed away in 2008, and the Jeff Healey Blues band have won big at this year’s Maple Blues Awards, taking home a total of seven out of the seventeen honors handed out – including Entertainer, Electric Artist, Guitarist and Recording of the Year (for his posthumous album Mess of Blues, produced by Healey and bassist Alec Fraser). Healey’s seasoned accompanists were also honored. Al Webster received the Drummer of the Year award, Dave Murphy won Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year, and Alec Fraser took home the Bassist of The Year award.

Saskatchewan native and Toronto-based singer-songwriter Suzie Vinnick picked up the Female Vocalist of the Year once again, while multiple nominee Paul Reddick has a first-time win for the category SOCAN Songwriter of the Year Award. John Mays, who fronts the group Fathead, earned the Male Vocalist of the Year title with his powerful, soulful voice. Western guitar-slinger Harry Manx won the Acoustic Artist of the Year Award. This is the second year in a row Manx has won in this category.

Amos Garrett, who was honored with the Blues With A Feeling Award, is a veteran who’s spent more than 40 years fascinating Blues fans with his unpredictable and tastefully understated licks, and has an exhaustive list of credits, including his famous riffs on Maria Muldaur’s hit “Midnight at the Oasis.”

The coveted New Artist of the Year Award (presented by BluesWax publisher Chip Eagle) went to Daddy Long Legs of Waterloo. Described as playing gritty, electrified Blues full of thick, raw tones, smart-mouthed lyrics, and razor-sharp arrangements, this group has captured the attention of many promoters and audience members alike for their modern, original mix of here-and-now Blues/Rock, Jump, and shuffle/swing style.

The award for International Artist of the Year went to another 40-year veteran, Taj Mahal. The Bluesman is one of the most prominent and influential figures in late 20th Century Blues and roots music. Though he began his career with American Blues, his passion and curiosity has broadened his artistic scope to a more global perspective which is reflected in his current music.

The Blues Booster of the Year Award (selected by the Toronto Blues Society Board of Directors) was graciously received by the lecturer, publisher, and broadcaster affectionately known as “Professor of Rock n’ Roll” Rob Bowman, for his outstanding contributions to the Canadian Blues industry. Bowman is a five-time Grammy Award nominee, and one-time winner. His broadcast credits include a five-part radio series on the history of Canadian popular music and frequent guest spots on CBC Radio's Definitely Not the Opera.

Radio personality Garvia Bailey elegantly led Monday night’s ceremonies with style, humor, and enthusiasm. Last year’s top winners Downchild (nominated in two categories this year), received an award for horn player Pat Carey. Ottawa’s dynamic harp man Steve Marriner scooped the award for Harmonica Player of the Year.

With the Maple Blues Band as the glue, the night sparkled with intermittent live performances by the Gospel Blues trio the Sojourners, the soulful Treasa Levasseur (who was joined onstage by the Sojourners), Ray Bonneville (accompanied by Amos Garrett), 30-years-plus veteran Harrison Kennedy, the sultry Shakura S’Aida, and the wailin’ guitar grooves of JW-Jones. It was truly a stunning and captivating event. Watch for more in upcoming issues of BluesWax.

2009 Maple Blues Award Winners

Entertainer of the Year
Jeff Healey

Electric Artist of the Year
Jeff Healey

Acoustic Artist of the Year
Harry Manx

Male Vocalist of the Year
John Mays (Fathead)

Female Vocalist of the Year
Suzie Vinnick

New Artist of the Year
Daddy Long Legs

Recording of the Year
Mess of Blues (Stony Plain)
Jeff Healey
Producers: Jeff Healey & Alec Fraser

International Artist of the Year
Taj Mahal

Guitarist of the Year
Jeff Healey

Harmonica Player of the Year
Steve Marriner

Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year
Dave Murphy (Jeff Healey Blues Band)

Horn Player of the Year
Pat Carey

Drummer of the Year
Al Webster (Jeff Healey Blues Band)

Bassist of the Year
Alec Fraser (Jeff Healey Blues Band and Broken Joe)

Songwriter of the Year
Paul Reddick

Blues With A Feeling Award (Lifetime Achievement)
Amos Garrett

Blues Booster of the Year
Rob Bowman

The BluesWax staff congratulates all the winners and all the great nominees who prove every night that there are no borders in the Blues, just great music around the world, especially in Canada.

Above item courtesy of: Toronto Blues Society

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