Get Tom Gary on stage, and the passion for the music pours out. He and his bandmates rip through classic blues and tight, original stuff with a jumping beat.
Away from the footlights, the resident bluesman is so laid back you can hardly stand it.
He claims to have formed his latest group, the Tom Gary Blues Band, out of "boredom," and says the foursome isn't big on a lot of rehearsal - in fact, their performance schedule is structured mainly by the agrarian calendar - bass player Don Demers farms near Truesdale.
The guys may play blues, but they don't live it. "Everybody is pretty relaxed in this band, there's no drama. We just show up and do the gig, and try to have some fun with it," Gary says.
The music takes shape rapidly - among them, the bandmates have over 100 collective years of experience on stage. All four contribute vocals with their various styles matched to favorite tunes.
Storm Lake's own blues crew will again be featured at the Cherokee Blues & Jazz Festival - one of Iowa's premier celebrations of the genre.
Catch the Tom Gary Blues Band at the Pub Crawl Friday, January 2, 9 p.m.-midnight at The Gathering Place. Admission is $10, and covers five acts that night at Corvo's, The Copper Cup, Cherokee Bowl, The Other Place and The Gathering Place.
Other Festival Events include a Jam Session Sat., Jan. 3, noon-3 p.m. at The Gathering Place, another Pub Crawl Saturday night 9-midnight; the Grand Concert Saturday night at 6:30 at the WIT Convention Center with pianist/vocalist Kelley Hunt and The Erick Hovey Band; a Brunch Buffet Sunday 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at The Gathering Place; and a Music Clinic for students on January 16 at Cherokee Middle School.
The Festival is a favorite of Gary's. "No matter how cold or snowy it is, people come out. And the great people who do this festival not only take care of the music fans, they treat the musicians just wonderfully."
In fact, the band might not exist if it wasn't for the festival.
When Gary made the move from the urban scene to come to Storm Lake to teach, the pianist/vocalist was invited to a jam at the festival. Jim Adamson, festival booster, was impressed and realized how much Gary missed performing. "He was the one who kind of hooked me up with the guys who became the band," Gary said.
They stepped to the forefront with a well-regarded concert during the last Star Spangled Spectacular, and one at the Buena Vista University Blues Concert Series, which ties in with an interim class Gary teaches on the roots of the musical genre.
The band has been together about a year and a half - a long shelf life in a genre where musicians' collaboration commonly comes and goes. "I'm pretty sure this is the longest I've ever been together with the same band," Gary says.
When he isn't performing, the bluesman teaches art at Laurens-Marathon school and is an adjunct professor of history at BVU. He is a historian of the blues, with an in-depth blog site and articles published delving such subjects as the musical activity in the African American population of Des Moines in the era of Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole. He launched an internet radio station, too.
The Tom Gary Blues Band recently released its first full-length CD, "Yesterday and Today, with 15 tracks written by Gary, including local favorites like, "Sings Like an Angel," "Iowa," "Court Ave" and "Holly Golightly Blues." He says it is the culmination of 13 years of songwriting labors.
While live music is struggling in general, the blues is eternal, Gary feels.
"I guess it is the history of the music partially, and the stories it tells. Blues music isn't really sad, it actually tends to be up-tempo. Everybody has a different reason for liking it," he says. "Although people in northwest Iowa haven't had a whole lot of contact with African American culture in the past, people seem to be pretty happy with the music."
Nearly everything in popular music today has its roots in blues, he suggests - not just rock, but also modern jazz, country, even hip hop. "Cab Calloway was doing rap music in the 1930s, they just hadn't invented the name for it yet," Gary says.
The band has no huge aspirations. All members have their day jobs, and their goal isn't fame - just helping to keep their brand of music alive and local audiences nodding their heads and tapping their feet to the beat.
They would like to expand their repertoire and their performing range a bit, and probably tackle another CD project, Gary says.
"We don't have to play for a living, luckily," he says. "Personally, I need to play."
Gary is in the process of arranging his next Blues Series, and will soon announce three public concerts to be held with some of the region's top talent later in January.
A CD launch party will also be scheduled soon for the "Yesterday and Today" disk, which is available at cdbaby.com. The band will also be appearing in the Iowa Great Lakes region next month with final details of that show still being worked out.
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The Iowa Blues Showcase is on the AIR
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Lets us remember these performers and promoters of the blues. If I have missed anyone, and I am sure I have please email and I will add them to the list.
Texas Pete Mayer
Alice Mae Burnside
Rudy Ray Moore
Dee Dee Warwick
Little Arthur Duncan
Weeping Willie Robinson
To check out individual obits please click on the obit 2008 tag below.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Check it out:
CD available at Lulu Click HERE
CD available at CD BABY Click HERE
CD available at Amazon Click HERE
Downloads at Amazon Click HERE
Saturday, December 27, 2008
From Bob Corritore Blues News
- RIP Eartha Kitt 1/17/1927-12/25/2008: Though not really known as a blues performer, Eartha Kitt did record some spectacular R&B material during the 1950s for the Groove Record Label, and of course, her spectacular "Santa Baby" will live on through the ages. She is best remembered in her acting role as “Catwoman” on the televised Batman TV series of the 1960s. Click here to read her obituary from the New York Times. To see a great video of Eartha and Nat King Cole performing “Careless Love” together from the movie St. Louis Blues (about W.C. Handy), click here; and from the same movie, Eartha singing “Yellow Dog Blues”, click here. For a nice clip of a fur-clad Eartha singing her hit “Santa Baby”, click here. We will miss you, Eartha.
From Bob Corritore Blues News
- RIP Robert Ward 10/15/1938-12/25/2008: Robert Ward was one of soul music's greatest guitarists. Known as "The King of the Magnatone" for his wild use of that amplifier's exaggerated tremolo sound, Ward made his mark in the 1960s cutting spectacular sides with The Falcons, which also featured a young Wilson Pickett on lead vocals. It was his trademark guitar that was an integral part of The Falcons' classic song "I Found A Love". Ward was a founding member of The Ohio Untouchables, who later became The Ohio Players. Ward's guitar style was credited as a huge influence on guitarist Lonnie Mack. He would do session work for Motown Records in the 1970s, where he recorded sides with The Temptations and The Undisputed Truth. He resurfaced as a star in his own right in 1991, with the brilliant album Fear No Evil on the Black Top record label. He recorded subsequent albums for the Black Top and Delmark labels, before suffering a heart attack in 2000, which led a spiraling trend of health problems. He passed away on Christmas day at age 70. Robert Ward was an unmistakably talented musician whose recordings will live on forever as great works.
December 26, 2008
- Chief Schabuttie Gilliame to be Inducted in the Arizona Blues Hall Of Fame on Sunday: Though not a household name in the blues, Chief Schabuttie Gilliame is an amazing blues singer who has been performing in the Phoenix area since the 1970s. Chief's CD, Snakes Crawls at Night on the Random Chance record label, has received worldwide acclaim (click here to see some reviews). The Arizona Blues Hall Of Fame will honor singer Chief Schabuttie Gilliame this Sunday at the Rhythm Room. A who's who of Arizona Blues legends will be on hand Sunday night to honor Chief Schabuttie Gilliame as he becomes one of the Hall Of Fame's newest members. Chief will appear on this night backed by Nightshift; also appearing will be George Bowman, Hans Olson, Chuck Hall, Rocket 88s, Tommy Dukes, Rochelle Raya, Nancy Dalessandro, Mario Moreno, Johnny Rapp, Brian Fahey, Margo Reed, Matt Roe, Jim Dorholt, and Bob Corritore. The Rhythm Room is located at 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85014. Doors will open at 6pm, with music starting at 7pm; a $5 suggested donation is asked. Proceeds go to ABHOF, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. This event is co-Sponsored by Fender and the Phoenix Blues Society. Rack Shack Barbeque will be available at this event. This night will be a patio smoking only event; no indoor smoking will be permitted. Congratulations, Chief!
- Dave Riley and Bob Corritore Appear Tuesday at the Rhythm Room! The Mississippi-meets-Chicago juke joint duo of Dave Riley and Bob Corritore bring their celebrated sound to the Rhythm Room this Tuesday, December 30, 2008 for an intimate show. The Rhythm Room is located at 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85014. Doors open at 7pm, cover charge is $5. This night will be a patio smoking only event; no indoor smoking will be permitted.
- Rhythm Room All-Stars with Special Guest Set by Tomcat Courtney to Play New Year's Eve at the Rhythm Room: Bring in the New Year with a night of real deal blues. The Rhythm Room All-Stars feature the stellar lineup of Big Pete Pearson, Bob Corritore, Chris James, Patrick Rynn, and Brian Fahey. Look for alternating sets featuring frontmen Big Pete Pearson, Chris James, and special guest Tomcat Courtney. Powerful stuff! The Rhythm Room is located at 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85014. Doors open at 8pm, cover charge is $15 (includes champagne toast and party favors at midnight). Rack Shack Barbeque (including black-eyed peas, a traditional New Year's treat) will be available at this event. This night will be a patio smoking only event; no indoor smoking will be permitted.
- Unissued Little Walter to be Included in the New Little Walter Box Set! Scott Dirks has confirmed that some of the previously unreleased material that he heard while researching the book Blues With A Feeling: The Little Walter Story will be included in the upcoming Complete Little Walter box set, which is currently expected to be released in March by Hip-O Select.
- Walter Davis Tribute Album in the Works: Billy Boy Arnold recently gave Bob Corritore a listen to a number of tracks he recorded for pianist Christian Rannenberg, who is producing a loving tribute to the great Walter Davis. Davis was very popular in the 40s for his brooding, moody style, and this CD hopes to revitalize an interest in this great artist. Billy Boy's song contributions are nothing short of breathtaking, and lead to an inquiry to Christian about this new project. Christian reports he has also recorded Charlie Musselwhite and Jimmy McCracklin as part of this noble tribute. Thank you, Christian, for keeping this flame alive.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
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Merry Christmas From Blues Blast Magazine!
This event is one of those events that once you go, you will be hooked. We first went to the 20th Blues Challenge in 2004. We got to see Zac Harmon from the Southern California Blues Society in Los Angeles take top honors. Coming in second was the Reverend Slick Ballinger from Mississippi and third place went to The Matthew Stubbs Band from Boston. Six years later, we haven't missed one since!
In 2004 there were 28 solo/duet acts and 66 bands entered in the competition. This year there are 99 bands and 61 solo duo acts, hailing from 36 states and 9 countries, including Australia, Canada, Croatia, France, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland and the United States. And this year the Blues Foundation has added the Smokin' Bluz Youth Showcase that features 23 acts with members under the age of 21. It is the largest gathering of Blues performers on the planet, having nearly doubled in size since 2004. To see the complete list of participants CLICK HERE. The event is coming up fast so CLICK HERE to get more info, tickets and hotel reservations NOW!
Thinking of going? Be sure to check out our feature article on the International Blues Challenge "How Good Are The Acts in the International Blues Challenge?" below in this issue. SCROLL DOWN! It includes some amazing videos of past contestants and winners.
Illinois Blues artist passes
We are sad to report Blues singer Bobbye King, known to some as the queen of the Peoria blues scene, died Saturday December 6th of natural causes after being rushed to a Peoria hospital with breathing difficulties. She was 54.
Although not well known on the national scene, Bobbye King and Ladies Choice Band entertained from Canada to Louisiana. King began singing as a toddler and opened for everyone from Koko Taylor to Lonnie Brooks. She headlined many Midwest festivals including the Luther Allison Memorial Blues Fest and the Illinois Blues Festival.
Peoria Blues guitarist Dave Chastain said King's death is a major loss for the Central Illinois blues scene. He first met King in the late 1980s and was struck by her talent."We became very good friends; I enjoyed her shows," Chastain said.
"She poked fun at herself, and she had a way with connecting with the crowd - humor along with great music. She was a great singer, had great stage presence, everything. Everybody loved Bobbye." (Parts quoted from the Peoria Journal Star)
Free Christmas Blues Single download links error
Last week we told you of the free Christmas single from California Blues artist Monica Dupont. Unfortunately our links were not correct (Don't copy links from MySpace THEY WONT WORK!!) Below are the corrected links. We apologize for the error.
High-resolution 256kbps Mp3 file suitable for broadcast of "Peace In the World" is available for download at: https://www.yousendit.com/download/TTZuaUNOQ1J6NE9Ga1E9PQ You can also listen to the song at: http://www.ModernBluesRecords.com
Blues Reviews and MORE!
Blues Review this week - James Walker reviews a new CD from Gary Moore that was just nominated for the Best Blues Rock album in the Blues Music Awards. Bob Kieser tells us how good the Blues acts at the International Blues Challenge are. Ben Cox sends us part two of a feature article on the Recording Academy and the Grammy Awards. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Featured Blues Review
Gary Moore - Bad For You Baby
11 songs; 55:33; Suggested
Style: Rock Blues
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to qualify that which can not be qualified, to quantify the unquantifiable, and to logically explain emotion. Now, that is Mission Impossible! But, that is often the job of a record reviewer. These thoughts crossed my mind as I was trying to decide how to explain why I have always liked Gary Moore’s Rock Blues music.
First, I should mention that “Bad For You Baby” is one of the six nominees for a Blues Music Award in the new category for 2008, “Rock Blues Album of the Year.” So, according to purists, the CD shouldn’t be liked at all since it is “Rock.” For the most part, Moore plays Rock Blues without the insipid string shredding that turns off so many blues fans.
I must confess that my enjoyment of the album rests on emotion; there is little logic involved. Simple explanation: Gary Moore is the best of the best when it comes to playing slow blues. His blues-natural-vocals plus guitar string bending, note stretching sustain, and creative phrasing have been consistently great over his recorded career. Proof here is found in three particular numbers, Al Kooper’s “I Love You More Than You will Ever Know” and Moore originals “Did You Ever Feel Lonely” and the nine-minute-plus album closer “Trouble Ain’t Far Behind.” Moore’s solo in “Trouble...” doesn’t just visit the stratosphere, he stays there for five full minutes. Who knew there were so many different high, sweet treble notes at the zenith of the scale?
When it comes to an up tempo number, who could ever beat Johnny Winter’s slide guitar masterpiece recording of J.B. Lenoir’s “Mojo Boogie?” Well, Moore gives it an admirable stab and comes close to Winter’s version. The energy is there, the vocals solid, and the slide guitar marvelous.
Kicking off with the title track, Moore launches into the CD with ferocious energy. Sam Kelly drums, Vic Martin adds keyboards, and Pete Rees is the bassist. The song ends with ten seconds of sonic feedback and overload that, sadly, might end the listening session for marginal fans.
The second number, “Down The Line,” is played at breakneck speed with plenty of fretboard fireworks, and the guitar solo is wonderful with deft finger picking, not power chord strumming.
Just skip the third number, “Umbrella Man;” it is a plodding cut with a shredded solo lacking originality.
Cut four, “Holding On,” gives us a nice taste of Moore’s soulful side, especially on vocals.
Track five is an up tempo shuffle that really burns. Muddy Waters’ “Walkin’ Thru The Park” is where this CD begins to truly separate itself from the mundane pack to earn its BMA nomination. Track five’s pace is also the perfect set up for the afore-mentioned slow blues number penned by Kooper. Moore later covers in great style one more Muddy number, “Someday Baby.”
Otis Taylor and daughter Cassie guest respectively on banjo and vocals on “Preacher Man Blues” in which Moore shares more of his considerable harmonica skills.
With at least 33 albums to his credit, Gary Moore is acknowledged as one of the finest musicians that the British Isles has ever produced. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on April 4th 1952, he was turned on to rock and roll first through hearing Elvis Presley, and then via The Beatles. Seeing the likes of Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers in his hometown opened up to him the rich world of The Blues. Soon thereafter, he was hailed as a teen musical prodigy beginning an amazing music career that dates back to the 1960s.
If you are a fan of Rock Blues, then you’ll love this CD. If you, like me, have Rock and Roll roots, then I think you will dig it, too. Marginal fans willing to experiment should just start with track five, and there they’ll find the gold nuggets that garnered the BMA nomination.
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Featured Blues Event Review
Thinking about going to the 25th International Blues Challenge but wondering how good these "undiscovered" Blues acts are? Don't worry there is PLENTY of talent at the IBC. Read on to hear about some of the acts I have had the pleasure of seeing at this great event and click the video links to hear samples of how good the competition is.
In 2006 I heard solo duet winner, Eden Brent in the finals. I had never heard of her before. Her electric piano malfunctioned early into her first song. Without missing a beat, she jumped to an old acoustic piano at the side of the stage turning a sound mishap into a winning performance. Her tour de force had the crowd on their feet cheering at the end of her performance! And a star was born! To see a you tube video of Eden Brent CLICK HERE
Eden went on to play Blues fests all over the world and she is a frequent favorite on the Legendary Blues Cruise. This year Eden is nominated for 4 Blues Music Awards, Acoustic Album of the Year, Acoustic Artist of the Year, Best New Artist Debut and the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player award. Talk about a meteoric rise! This is the story of many of the finalists from this great event.
Will You See The Future of the Blues at this Competition?
The International Blues Challenge is known as a great place to see young upcoming artists. I saw the Reverend Slick Ballinger take second place in 2004. He also won the Albert King award for the best guitar player in the competition that year all at the tender age of 19. To see a short video clip of Slick playing with Blind Mississippi Morris and Junior Kimbrough. CLICK HERE
In 2006 I saw a duet called The Blues Boys from Illinois which included Andy Duncanson (guitar) and Joe Asselin (harmonica) from the Kilborn Alley Blues Band. They performed selections from the bands upcoming new CD while competing in the solo duet category. They did not make it to the finals that year but in 2007 their new CD, "Put It In The Alley" was released on Blue Bella Records. It was nominated for a Blues Music Award for Best New Artist Debut. In 2008 their second CD, "Tear Chicago Down" was nominated for Best Contemporary Blues CD and the band was also nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award for Best Contemporary Blues Band. Soon Kilborn Alley Blues Band was playing festivals all over To See a video of this great young band CLICK HERE.
In 2007 I watched a VERY young trio, the Homemade Jamz' Blues Band from Tupelo, Mississippi, amaze the crowd. These three siblings were Ryan Perry,14 (guitar and vocals) Kyle Perry,12 (bass & vocals) Taya Perry,8 (drums). They took second place in the band finals. Little Taya was amazing, she was so tiny I was not sure how she was able to reach the Bass drum pedal but she kicked butt and held her own against other drummers in the finals five or six times her age! In fact the bands ages all added up were less than most any of the other competitors in the finals.
The Homemade Jamz' Blues Band has since been featured on NPR's All Things Considered and CBS This Morning and are now regulars on the Blues festival circuit. Their skills are not just amazing because of their age, they are just plain AMAZING period! Their first CD, "Pay Me No Mind" is nominated for a Blues Music Award for Best New Artist Debut. To see a video of this great band CLICK HERE.
Last year in the 2008 IBC finals I got another glimpse of the future of the Blues when a band from Kansas City called Trampled Under Foot won the band division.
The band was again three siblings, Nick Schnebelen (guitar & vocals) Kris Schnebelen (drums) and Danielle Schnebelen (bass & vocals). Nick also took top honors by winning the Albert King award as Best Guitarist in the 2008 International Blues Challenge.
Trampled Under Foot now tours all over the US hitting festivals from coast to coast and around the world. To see a video of this great band, CLICK HERE
How good are the acts in the IBC? Consider this, most of them got to the semi-finals in Memphis by winning a regional or local Blues challenge put on by their local Blues society. In some cases, like the Iowa Blues challenge winner, they have already won two rounds, their local one and a state competition put on by all the Iowa Blues societies. So you already have the cream of the crop competing in the semi-finals on Thursday and Friday in Memphis to make the finals on Saturday.
A few years ago, the Blues Foundation removed requirements that all competitors must not have been on a nationally released recording in the last ten years. Now the only restriction is that competitors can not have been nominated for a Blues Music Award. Now many Blues acts that have been professional players and have released many recordings nationally or otherwise are eager to compete in the IBC. Last year we saw Lil' Ray Neal Band whose Louisiana Blues lineage includes the likes of big brother Kenny Neal make it to the finals. Although Ray has a ton of experience playing in major Blues festivals, he placed third! We're talking some serious competition in the International Blues Challenge!
Bottom line, GO! I promise you won't be disappointed! Mark your calendars for February 5th - 7th, 2008 and get yourself to Memphis. CLICK HERE for complete info!
Reviewed by Bob Kieser. To see Bob's photos of the 2008 International Blues Challenge CLICK HERE
Saturday, January 17th, 2009
Visit 9 of Chicago’s famous Blues clubs featuring 12 live blues bands!
For more Info CLICK HERE
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Blues Music Reviewers wanted - Southwest and Texas areas
Blues Blast Magazine is looking for reviewers to review new Blues CD's and live music shows. If you have a background and experience with Blues music and like to write we can provide new CD's and press passes for events for you to review. Photography experience helpful for show reviews. Must be willing to write a minimum of one review every other week. Reviewer keeps the CD's for writing the review. If interested please send a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to firstname.lastname@example.org
The River City Blues Society presents
Wednesday Blues featuring
January 7, 2009 - 7:00pm
The Dragons Dome
To see Map- CLICK HERE
Admission $3 or free with new Society membership
Blues Society News
Please submit a maximum of 175 or words or less in a Text or Word format ONLY.
The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society - Marietta, Ohio
The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society of Marietta, Ohio announce their 17th annual River City Ohio Blues Competition for sponsorship to the International Blues Challenge ( IBC) in 2010. January 9, 2009 is the deadline for participants to register. The competition is to be held February 20 & 21, 2009, at Hotel Lafayette, 101 Front Street, Marietta OH. The first place winner of The River City Ohio Blues Competition will receive $1000 dollars in cash, second place winner will receive $200 in cash and the third place winner will receive $100 in cash.
River City Blues Society- Peoria, IL
The River City Blues Society's Wednesday Blues Series in Central, Illinois are early shows each Wednesday at 7:00pm, featuring the best traveling regional and National Blues musicians. The shows will feature a budget priced cover charge of $3.
For the month of January all shows will be held at the Dragons Dome at 3401 Griffin Ave in Pekin, IL. This location is just 3 blocks from the previous location at the Captains Wheel. The Captains Wheel is closing for remodeling on December 21st and will open under new management in January.
Friends of the Blues - Watseka, IL
Join us Saturday, Dec 27 for Big James & The Chicago Playboys, 9:00 PM, Legacy Bar & Grill, 135 N. Kinzie Ave, Bradley IL 815-936-1649
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
Blue Mondays- Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover - December 29 - Sally Weisenburg and the Famous Sidemen, Jan 5 - Texas Groove, Jan 12 - Tombstone Bullet, Jan 19 - Groove Daddies, Jan 26 - Juke Joint Duo / Cedric Burnside and Lightnin Malcolm, Feb 2 - Big Jeff Chapman, Feb 9 - Jim Suhler, Feb 15 - Shawn Kellerman, Feb 23 - Deak Harp
CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD
All About The Grammy Awards - Part 2
Understanding the Grammy Awards Part 2
The submission process for potential Grammy-nominated recordings starts in the summer time. “It amazes me how many people do not submit work to the Grammy nomination process,” Healy said, “It’s a fairly easy process.” As a member or a registered record label with the Academy, the process is started in the summer with the mailing of forms and information needed to submit product to be screened into the 110 categories.
The Academy has a specially selected committee of individuals who are selected to the committee based on expertise in the respected genres or fields. After the screening committee has placed the albums into their selected fields, the Recording Academy sends out the Entry List Ballot. From that ballot, all voting members select their favorite works from the 8 fields (genres) that they believe are deserving of a nomination. After those votes are submitted confidentially to Delloit & Touche (Grammy voting tabulation company), another confidential committee again screens the selections to be sure that the nominees land in the correct fields. The fields are narrowed down to five nominees in each category. The nomination ballot (which is in the process of being voted on now for the 51st Grammy Awards) is sent out again to the 19,000 voting members of the Academy. The votes from this ballot are submitted again to Delloit & Touche who tabulate the winner of the award that we see on Grammy night. Pretty complicated process huh?
What does all of that have to do with blues? Over the years I’ve heard several blues fans and professionals complain about how out of touch the Grammy Awards are with the genre and its community, and also how only a very select few artists continue to get nominated each year. “It’s a tough sell for people,” Healy says, “For some it’s a question of whether to pay the $100 a year to be a member. Not all 19,000 members get to vote. I would guess maybe around 13,000 members actually do vote. When you break it down into the 110 fields, I’m sure there’s a very select few that vote in the blues categories.” Healy strongly advocates any blues music professionals to hit the ground running and advocate more of a voting membership amongst the blues community. “The Chicago chapter is one of the only regions that hold a blues event each year. We like to tell the blues community about ourselves, about the Grammy voting process, and all the membership benefits that we have. I know for a fact the MusiCares program has helped many blues musicians in need.”
The MusiCares program is set up for musicians who are in a time of need. You don’t have to be a part of the Recording Academy to receive this help. “MusiCares often gets less attention than we like it to in the press but it’s a great service to a…let’s say a blues musician falls and breaks his arm and misses all of his gigs for the month and can’t pay his rent-MusiCares steps in and pays his rent for him till he gets back on his feet. It also deals with addiction recovery and treatment and musician welfare,” Healy explained.
The Grammy community in Chicago may be under the radar and little known to most music fans but there are some musicians who do take notice. “Billy Branch is a great member for the blues here in Chicago. Buddy Guy and all the folks at Legends have long been a part and Eddy Clearwater was once on the board here in Chicago as well.” Healy maintains, too, many musicians and music professionals out there that the $100/year is a great opportunity to advocate a change in the blues nominees and receive a few fringe benefits. “I hope that this interview can spearhead a grass roots awareness in the blues community to get on the Academy and vote because the more blues members we have the more reflective of the year in blues and the community the nominees will be.” Healy also says that its hard to gauge whether the Grammy Awards are staying hip and cool to fan bases because the voting membership is so few.
After having this conversation, I quickly trying to dig up the money to see if I can add my two cents worth for the 52nd Grammy Awards next year. I think, in this humble journalist’s opinion that if the blues community wants to have a louder voice in the blues with this prestigious award we need to continue to get out and vote!
Interview by Ben "the Harpman" Cox. Visit his website Juke Joint Soul
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Blues Blast Magazine is proud to be a media sponsor of the 25th International Blues Challenge. The silver anniversary of this great Blues competition promises to be one the best ever put on by the Blues Foundation.
In case you are not familiar with this event, it is an international search for the best undiscovered Blues band on the planet. Each year the Blues Foundation's 160 affiliate Blues societies from all over the globe hold "local" or "regional" Blues challenges.
They send the winners to compete in the semifinals in Memphis in February. There are categories for both bands and solo/duet acts.
In 2008, 100 bands and 60 solo/duo acts filled the clubs up and down Beale Street for the semi-finals on Thursday and Friday. This is a Blues show you do not want to miss. It is literally the worlds largest gathering of Blues Bands!
Beale Street is the legendary Blues Mecca in Memphis. Each club on Beale has 6 or 8 acts competing in the semi-finals. By the rules of the competition, each act plays exactly 30 minutes all using the same stage setup for a panel of judges and a packed crowd of Blues fans. They are judged on Blues content, vocal and/or instrumental talent, originality and stage presence by a different panels of judges each night (See scoring criteria HERE).
The scores are averaged and the top scoring act from each club advances to the finals that are held at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday. (To see some photos of last years fun CLICK HERE)
Tickets to this historical event are just $75 and include entrance to all the clubs on Beale Street both Thursday and Friday and the finals on Saturday. CLICK HERE to get yours now.
Be sure to get your hotel reservations NOW too as some of the host hotels are already sold out! CLICK HERE for hotel info
Live Blues Calendar
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Nearly 11,000 Blues Fans, Musicians, Recording Companies, Club Owners, Blues Societies and Festival Promoters in all 50 states and in 40 countries read the Blues Blast magazine each week. You can feature your event or product in the largest FREE internet Blues magazine delivered right to your inbox each week.
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