Joe Louis Walker and Duke Robillard Score Big Wins At Blues Awards

It was a red letter evening for Canada's Stony Plain Records label at the annual Blues Award ceremonies in Memphis last Thursday (May 6). The "Album of the Year" award went to Joe Louis Walker for Between a Rock and the Blues, his second album of the label. And guitarist, bandleader, songwriter and producer Duke Robillard earned "Traditional Blues Male Artist of the Year" honours.

Joe Louis Walker joined the Edmonton-based record label three years ago after making some 18 albums for a variety of other companies. His award-winning CD puts a spotlight on the powerful crossroads where the blues and rock meet on common ground. Between a Rock and the Blues has been described as a breakthrough; a testament to the truth of Muddy Waters' assertion that "the blues had a baby and they called it rock and roll."

Duke Robillard has been a mainstay for Stony Plain for many years. Known as one of the most active international "road warriors" he plays as many as 250 dates a year and has performed in more than 30 countries he is a versatile guitarist who has contributed some 16 albums to the Stony Plain catalogue. He has also produced CDs for the label for numerous other artists including both Joe Louis Walker's albums for the label.

Robillard's repertoire touches almost every variant of the blues genre, from rockin' r&b (his latest CD is called Stomp! the Blues Tonight) to two stellar duet albums with the late jazz guitarist Herb Ellis. He has completed a new album for Stony Plain, which will be released in early summer.

Holger Petersen, who heads Stony Plain (and is nationally known in Canada for his long-running CBC Radio programme Saturday Night Blues), was in Memphis with Maria Muldaur, another Stony Plain artist. Muldaur was to unveil a plaque honouring jug band pioneer Gus Cannon in W.C. Handy Park today.

Said Petersen: "I can't say how important Joe and Duke are to our label; to see them honoured with Blues Awards is a fitting tribute to their remarkable talents."

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