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Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo' Top Winners At Blues Music Awards

05-11-2018
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Blues Music Awards

(Conqueroo) The 39th annual Blues Music Awards turned into something of a one-year anniversary party for Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo'. Their acclaimed collaboration TajMo, which was released on May 4, 2017, picked up both Album of the Year and Contemporary Blues Album honors at this all-star ceremony that The Blues Foundation hosted on May 10.

An American roots music legend who was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2009, Taj Mahal also was named the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and best Acoustic Artist, while his equally heralded musical partner Keb' Mo' was chosen best Contemporary Blues Male Artist.

Rick Estrin was the night's other big multi-award winner. Estrin, who had garnered the most BMA nominations with eight, was selected best Traditional Blues Male Artist, his song "The Blues Ain't Going Nowhere" won Song of the Year, and Rick Estrin & the Nightcats earned the Band of the Year honors.

Little Steven Van Zandt was a masterful host for the festivities presented at Memphis' Cook Convention Center. He also served as one of the evening's award presenters along with such revered musicians as Tony Joe White, Joe Louis Walker, Candi Staton, Janiva Magness, David Porter, and Ruthie Foster. Van Zandt capped off the night by joining guitarist Mike Zito on stage to close down the dynamic show on a high note.

Mike Zito also was picked as the best Blues Rock Artist, which was one of the two new categories that the Blues Foundation added to the Blues Music Awards this year. The other new category, best Instrumentalist-Vocals, was nabbed by Beth Hart.

Ruthie Foster not only was a presenter but a winner too of the Koko Taylor Award for Traditional Blues Female Artist. Another fine blues guitarist, Samantha Fish, was chosen Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist, while Mavis Staples retained her title as Soul Blues Female Artist. The Soul Blues Male Artist winner also was a returnee from last year, Curtis Salgado. Victor Wainwright, similarly, held on to the Pinetop Perkins Piano Award for Instrumentalist-Piano, a title he has won four of the last six years.
Doug MacLeod, the Acoustic Artist award winner the last two years, topped the Acoustic Album category this year for Break the Chain. The other best album honors went to Walter Trout's We're All In This Together for Rock Blues Album, Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter's Right Place, Right Time for Traditional Blues Album, and Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm's self-titled effort for Soul Blues Album.

Wainwright and Hart's fellow winners in the Instrumentalist categories were Trombone Shorty as Horn Player of the Year, Michael "Mudcat" Ward as Bass Player of the Year, Tony Braunagel as Drummer of the Year, Jason Ricci as Harmonica Player of the Year, and Ronnie Earl as Guitarist of the Year.

The Blues Music Awards encompass a broad range of blues styles as well as recognizing both great old and new blues performances. This year's winner for best Historical Album was Ruf Recordings' Luther Allison compilation A Legend Never Dies, Essential Recordings 1976-1997, while the Best Emerging Artist Album went to hometown heroes Southern Avenue for their eponymous debut on Stax Records.

The packed house of top blues musicians, music business professionals and devoted fans from around the globe not only got to salute the best in blues for the past year but also enjoyed a night filled with terrific live performances. Many of the nominees and winners lit up the stage, including Keb' Mo', Rick Estrin & the Nightcats, Walter Trout, Southern Avenue, Monster Mike Welch & Mike Ledbetter Band, North Mississippi Allstars, Guy Davis, Vanessa Collier, Larkin Poe, and The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra featuring Vaneese Thomas, Trudy Lynn, Sugaray Rayford, Wee Willie Walker. Blues music continues to grow and thrive; half of the performances on the BMA stage were led by artists who are under the age of 45, with many still in their 20s and 30s. Blues Foundation President and CEO Barbara Newman reports, "We are watching the trends closely, and the blues, as a genre, is definitely on an uptick, with younger musicians being drawn to create and play this style of music and a continually growing following of the music on our social media outlets and beyond."

Here is the complete list of Blues Music Award winners (final)
1. Acoustic Album: Break the Chain - Doug MacLeod
2. Acoustic Artist: Taj Mahal
3. Album: TajMo - Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo'
4. B.B. King Entertainer: Taj Mahal
5. Band: Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
6. Best Emerging Artist Album: Southern Avenue - Southern Avenue
7. Contemporary Blues Album: TajMo - Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo'
8. Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Samantha Fish
9. Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Keb' Mo'
10. Historical: A Legend Never Dies, Essential Recordings 1976-1997 - Luther Allison (Ruf Recordings)
11. Instrumentalist-Vocalist: Beth Hart
12. Instrumentalist-Bass: Michael "Mudcat" Ward
13. Instrumentalist-Drums: Tony Braunagel
14. Instrumentalist-Guitar: Ronnie Earl
15. Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Jason Ricci
16. Instrumentalist-Horn: Trombone Shorty
17. Pinetop Perkins Piano Player (Instrumentalist - Piano): Victor Wainwright
18. Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female): Ruthie Foster
19. Rock Blues Album: We're All In This Together - Walter Trout
20. Rock Blues Artist: Mike Zito
21. Song: "The Blues Ain't Going Nowhere" written by Rick Estrin and performed by Rick Estrin
22. Soul Blues Album: Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm - Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
23. Soul Blues Female Artist: Mavis Staples
24. Soul Blues Male Artist: Curtis Salgado
25. Traditional Blues Album: Right Place, Right Time - Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter
26. Traditional Blues Male Artist: Rick Estrin

Conqueroo submitted this story.
It may be edited- Excerpted here with permission.

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