The Blues411 Annual ‘Jimi Awards’ 2012 Edition

This is the third edition of the Blues411 Annual Awards, somehow they seem to have taken on the name of ‘The Jimi’s which is fine with me. Yet whatever we call them, they serve as a vehicle to pay tribute to all the fine musicians and friends that have come into contact with Blues411 this past year. Remember only releases which have been received at our headquarters are eligible for an award, so if ya wanna get one of these babies then get your stuff to us for review.

This third year has seen many changes, new look for site, a 200+ fold of readers, fancy-schmanzy email campaign, regular appearances on Music On The Couch, festival and media partnerships, Tier1 Supporters and so on. It has been unbelieveable to me the growth and success of this venture, thank you all.

The Special Drink of 2012:
Two years we sat back and poured a straight Jameson, last year we were kicking back with a pitcher of  The Gingerbread Housewrecker – this year we are imbibing with a classic cocktail ‘The Manhattan‘. This is mostly due to the fact that it was my departed brother Emil’s long standing favorite. We now raise a glass to him whenever we get together. . So here’s to you ‘old  man’ rest well. For info (

….and away we go (winners in Bold)!

Best Live Recording:
Colin Linden “Still Live”
Suzie Vinnick: “Live at Bluesville”
Sauce Boss: “LIVE at the Green Parrot”
Harper & The Midwest Kind: “LIVE at the Blues Museum”
Sybil Gage: “NOLA Calling”
there was something inside this recording that captured the soul of Harper and the band.

Acoustic Blues Album:
Steve Strongman: “Natural Fact”
Brandon Isaak:  “Ghost Town”
Rory Block: “I Belong To The Band: A Tribute to the Reverend Gary Davis ”
Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King: “Close To The Bone”
Eric Bibb: “Deeper In The Well”
an absolute stunning release featuring the voice of B’nois King and guitar work of Smokin’ Joe Kubek (who shares my birthday).

Best Soul, R&B Release:
Lady Bianca: “Servin’ Notice”
Dorothy Moore: “Blues Heart”
Johnny Rawls: “Soul Survivor”
John Lee Hooker, Jr.: “All Hooked Up”
Barbara Carr: “Keep The Fire Burning”
Mr. Hooker pulls no punches with this one and beats out some very, very excellent releases.

Best Roots Album:
Paul Thorn: “What The Hell Is Goin’ On?”
Little Joe McLerran: “Facebook Blues”
Peter Novelli: “Louisiana Blues & Roots”
Corey Lueck & Smoke Wagon  Blues Band: “It Ain’t Easy”
Tas Cru: “Tired of Bluesmen Cryin'”
Davis Coen: “Hard Luck Cafe”
Davis is a modern day songwriter who covers all his bases with a wide brush and a vocal pallete that is unmistakable. 

Best New Debut Release:
Sena Ehrhardt: “Leave The Lights On”
Ron Tanski: “Dragged You Down”
Royal Southern Brotherhood: “Royal Southern Brotherhood”
Tyler Mac: “Already Home”
Little G Weevil: “The Teaser”
Memphis Cradle: “Love, Lies, Burning”
Cassie Taylor: “Blue”
Solid and formidible start to what may be the next ‘super-group’ of the Blues. Lots of good first releases this year.

Female Vocalist:
Ruthie Foster: “Let It Burn”
Dorothy Moore: “Blues Heart”
Janiva Magness: “Stronger For It”
Cee Cee James: “Blood Red Blues”
Lawrence Lebo: “The Best of Don’t Call Her Larry”
All these ladies are deserving of the award, but Ms. Moore brought something just the other side of ‘spot on’ perfection in all her vocal treatments.

Male Vocalist:
Ian Siegal
Mike Finnigan (Phantom Blues Band)
Bnois King
Freddie Cunningham (Root Doctor)
Dion’s voice has not faltered at all since his younger days, in fact it has mellowed and grown along with his understanding of how to deliver a song.

Guitar Hero (Electric):
Debbie Davies
Jimmy Thackery
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Anders Osborne
Rick Holmstrom
Anthony Gomes
Ms. Davies and Mr. Thackery stand apart from these other worthy folks, I can see no arguement here. Each of these folks brings a new light to the guitar-hero phase of rockin’ blues.

Badass Bass:
Todd Edmunds: Otis Taylor Band
Larry Fulcher: Phantom Blues Band
Joseph Veloz: Mississippi Heat
Lisa Mann: Lisa Mann Band
Mark Bumgarner: Jimmy Thackery Band
This cat can flat out play any style, pace or pattern, a true badass bassist.

Radiating Them 88′s Piano Player:
David Maxwell: “Blues In Other Colors”
Scottie Miller: “Rise Up”
Lee Pons: “Togged To The Bricks”
Joe Fingers: “Tales of Love and Coffee”
Ron Tanski: “Dragged You Down”
Some new, some familiar here, but Mr. Miller showed me much with his versatility and prowess and takes this one home.

Harmonica Player:
Dennis Gruenling
Pierre LaCocque
Sugar Blue
Marco Pandolfi
(Peter) Harper
Mr. Blue still is the most original harp player anywhere on this earth.

Drum Thumper Award:
Eric Selby: Billy Thompson Band
Drum Counselor (Go-Go Ray): Samantha Fish Band
Justin Headley: Sauce Boss/Fatty Waters Band
Larry Thompson: Otis Taylor Band
D’Mar: Paula Harris Band, Chris Gill
His work with Samantha Fish adds such power and feel to her music that he is the rock-solid foundation that all else is built upon.

Instrumentalist Other:
(Peter) Harper: Didgeridoo
Anne Harris: Violin
Phil Parlapiano: Accordian
Harry Manx: Mohan Veena
Chris DiFrancesco: Saxaphone
Ms. Harris has  revitalized the violin in blues music restoring it to a place of prominence.

Coolest Release Title:
JR Clark: “Icicles On My Ceiling”
Mighty Sam McClain: “Too  Much Jesus (And Not Enough Whiskey)”
Kerry Kearney: “Ghosts of Psychedelta”
Paula Harris: “Turning On The Naughty”
RJ Knapp & Honey Robin: “Don’t Blame The Dynamite…If You Can’t Light The Fuse”
Some great titles here, but gotta go with Mr. McClain’s.

Best Traditional Release:
Liz Mandeville: “Clarksdale”
Guy Davis: “The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed With The Blues”
Mississippi Heat: “Delta Time”
Tim ‘Too Slim’ Langford: “Broken Halo”
Brad Vickers & The Vestapolitans: “Dallas Blues”
A recreation of an old timey songs- done with the perfect feel and sense of timing that deserves the award. 

International Release of the Year:
Hans Theessink & Terry Evans: “Delta Time”
Philipp Fankhauser: “Try My Love”
The 24th Street Wailers: “Unshakable”
Ian Siegal: “Candy Store Kid”
Marco  Pandolfi: “Close The Bottle When You’re Done”
This was an amazing year for International releases, if I could, I would put them all up for an awards. No shame in not winning but Mr. Frankhauser gets this award for his stunning release.

Song of The Year:
“Turn Off Your TV”: Walter Trout
“Running From The Devil”: Zac Harmon
“Hard Pressed (Wha Da Fuzz?)”: Ian Siegal
“Hard Times”: John Lee Hooker, Jr.
“I Won’t Cry”: Janiva Magness
“Coming Down With The Blues”: Dorothy Moore
“Mind of A Junkie”: Anders Osborne
This sing-song track whose simple structure and catchy beat hides a deep rooted problem, wins in a very tough category.

Album of the Year:
Otis Taylor: “Contraband”

Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps: “Come On Home”
Lady Bianca: “Servin’ Notice”
Anders Osborne: “Black Eye Galaxy”
Zac Harmon: “Music Is Medicine”
John Lee Hooker, Jr. “All Hooked Up”
Overall Mr. Taylor (and band)’s work on this release sets him atop the pinnacle of his career.

22st Century Distribution Channel Award:
Bea B & The Axxemann: “Born With The Blues”
Franc Robert: “Why Do I Never Win”
Beth McKee: “Next To Nowhere”
spice packet included in press kit wins it!
Lawrence Lebo: “Don’t Call Her Larry”
Gaye Adegblola: “Blues In All Colors”
Some great new ideas out there, but Ms. McKee wins it with the spice packet and instructions for a god time. 

Blues Book of the Year:
When I Left Home: Buddy Guy w/David ritz
Blues Highway Blues: Eyre Price
The Language of The Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu: Debra Devi
The Beautiful Music All Around Us – Field recordings and the Amercian Experience: Stephen Wade
Mr. Price has given us a thriller full of blues, rock and roll and music history complete with rapscallions, thugs, and bad people too!

Outstanding Fan/Supporter of Blues411:
Martin Goettsch
Billy Thompson
Vinny Marini
Pete Enright
Marcia Goodwin Adams
Host of ‘Music On The Couch’ Mr. Marini is live every Monday with Musicians You Should Know, and has found time to feature Blues411 every first Monday of the month.

There were so many great releases and songs this year I am thrilled to have had them in my life. Thanks to Mark Pucci, Frank Roszak, Betsie Brown, Doug Deutsch and all the artists who took the time to feed me the goods so that I may share with all of you.Thank you  to my readers and supporters (as well as artists) who make this worth the  effort. So until next time, this edition of “The Jimi’s” is signing off, see ya in cyber-space.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
Where Blues Thrives


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Riverfront Blues Festival – Looking Back in Photos

It was a super time at the Riverfront Blues Festival, again !
This has got to be one of the nicest festivals around – very friendly, not too big, open to all and excellent music.

This year we were treated to such outstnding acts as Tab Benoit,  EC Scott & Band, Vasti Jackson, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Johnny Sansone, LowRider Band,  James Cotton Band  ….. I could go on, but you get the point. Two super after parties one hosted by Travis Haddix and the other by Victor Wainwright & the wildroots band – phew ain’t nothing but a party y’all.

If I were going to (for the sake of this post) list my top 5 they would be the following:

#5: Super Chikan & The Fighting Cocks

James Johnson and the ladies,  playing custom made chiktars and pleading for “somebody shoot that thang !”, are always a fun time, there were some problems with an amp that marred early part of performance but good time music, fun coupled with hi-energy and chiken scratching dancing always makes for a great show.



#4: LowRider Band
The large majority of the three letter named band from back in the day, featuring Harold Brown, Howard Scott, BB Dickerson and Lee Oskar from said band. These guys have yet to disappoint putting on a show both on and off the stage as they venture into the crowd.



#3: Tab Benoit
Sraight up blue collar, hard working musician who reminds me of the late Luther Allison in the way that he just gives it his all each night. Story telling, disarmingly friendly yet focused and versatile, Tab once again proved why he is a fan favorite. Look for him and his power trio at Bluestock Friday, August 26,.



#2: Johnny Sansone
First time that  I have seen Johnny as his own entity. Have seen him as part of Voice of the Wetlands with Tab, Anders Osborne and others but this was my first chance to dig deep into the Johnny thing. He thrilled everyone, showing equal virtuosity at harp or accordian. With his new release making the #1 slot on BB King’s Bluesville Picks to Click it’s all good for him.



#1: James Cotton
Mr. Cotton alone is worth the price of admission, but pair him with a killer band featuring, Tom Holland, Darrell Nulisch,  Noel Neal and Jerry Porter and you can’t beat them with a stick ! Having a young Joshua King on stage only made it better.



*Honorable mention: yeh I didn’t think I could get away with just five, LOL.

April Mae & The June Bugs a NJ three-piece band that brings rock-a-billy sensibilities with just enough grease to keep ya slip slidin’ to towards ecstacy ! Fun times, fast times and a crowd pleasing set made them the surprsie hit of the Bandwagon Stage. Yeah New Jersey !


Smokin’ Joe & Bnois King they went electric this time and brought that Texas shuffle and grit to the East Coast. Smooth  performance and likable personas. BNois voice is smooth as aged whisky and the band just killed it.

And as always Mr. Gary Allegretto and his Blues Music Award winning charity ‘Harmonikids’ and Hohner harmonicas giving lessons bertween sets and raising money for a good cause, thank you G-Man !



So now to the photo part. Here are the links to the three days of the festival, about 50-60 or so in each day. Enjoy the photos the good ones were taken by Blues411 photographic wizard, the crappy ones were done by yours truly. click on link then across the top are links to Days 2 & 3.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2011

2011 Riverfront Blues Festival – Smack Dab in the Middle of Everything !

Blues411 had the chance to catch up with Mr. Gene Fontana of the Diamond State Blues Society. We talked about what might be one of the most comfortable and friendly Blues festivals on the East Coast. This year the Riverfront Blues Festival will be held August 5th – 7th, at The Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park in downtown Wilmington, Delaware.
We were there last year and had a blast, so if you are anywhere near Delaware next weekend, come on out !


B411: Gene, maybe a bit of history on the festival – how long has it been running?

GF: The Festival has been running for 15 years now. First as the Cool Brews & BBQ Fest for the first six years and for nine years as the Riverfront Blues Festival.

B411: It seems to work well with the state and city, is that difficult to accomplish? How did the Diamond State Blues Society get involved with it?
GF:The tie-ins with the City of Wilmington came about when the person booking the festival was not getting it together . The city did not know what was going on, and Tina Betz, working for the City of Wilmington was very knowledgeable about Jazz, but did not know enough about the Blues. The Diamond State Blues Society was somewhat involved by having after-parties, and Tina called me and said Gene I thought I would let you know that there will be no Blues Festival this year so I do not think you can have an after-party.
Stunned by what she was telling me after telling me the reason for canceling it four weeks before I said is there anything that we the blues society can do ? Would you like me to book it for you ? Tina asked how much did I want to get paid ? I said I wanted nothing, I just want this festival to keep going. So in two weeks I put together a stellar lineup with Lonnie Brooks , Chris Cain , Bluestime with J. Geils & Magic Dick , Little Charlie and many other fine acts. In the eight years since, the festival has grown to be one of the best on the East Coast if not in the Country. But all in all the City of Wilmington funds the festival while I do all the bookings for both stages and help out with volunteers. I do have the Boss on site at all times, Tina Betz from the Mayors Office of Cultural Affairs, who keeps me calm when it’s needed. Tina is a great leader and she does know how to iron out issues when they arise. Also we need to mention Bev Zimmerman who also plays a huge role in the festival, getting hotel, gate volunteers. and vendors together and Tanya Philips who is in charge of Hospitality, Vending & Tenting and Ground Transportation for the Artists.

B411: Now some of the acts you have had there in the past are quite amazing, I am just starting to get familiar with the fest, so who were some of the outstanding ones to you?
GF: Bernard Allison, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Charlie Musselwhite, Larry Garner, Marcia Ball, Lonnie Ronnie and Wayne Baker Brooks. Last year alone we had Pine Top Perkins, Bob Margolin, Mojo Buford, Hubert Sumlin, Mike Zito and John Lee Hooker Jr.

B411: Who is on tap for the current festival, I know Super Chikan and The Fighting Cocks, Tab Benoit, James Cotton who else ?
GF: Well, first is Vasti (vast -eye) Jackson from Mississippi. A great performer who goes way back to days of the juke joints. He is a blues guitarist with a sweet soulful sound.

B411: Oh yeh, I saw him last year, what a fun performer !
GF: Then you got that triple threat from New Orleans. Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone, what a harmonica player, Accordion & Guitarist, and his new CD “The Lord Is Waiting & The Devil Is Too” WOW ! It is produced by Anders Osborne. On the release it is Anders, Johnny & a drummer on this CD no bass player. It’s some deep Louisiana sound, something the likes I have never heard before.

B411: Yeh, the drummer is Stanton Moore of Galactic (Cyril Neville plays with them).
Joanne Shaw Taylor is opening the festival Friday right ?

GF: What an up and coming artist she is. Voted Female Blues Artist of The Year, once you see her performance you will agree. Two years ago at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival I had a chance to catch her performance. She got the only standing ovation all weekend. We all looked at one another and said she’s coming to Wilmington.

B411: I am quite excited about seeing the Lowrider Band, this will be great !
GF: Yes, it’s Howard Scott, Lee Oskar, BB Dickerson, Harold Brown along with baby brothers Lance Ellis on Sax , Keith Vinet on Keyboards and Chuck Barber on percussion bringing us the sound fusion from East LA that we all know and love. These are the original composers of the hits: Lowrider, Why Can’t We Be Friends, Spill the Wine, Cisco Kid, Slippin’ Into Darkness, The World is a Ghetto and more. So make their day by flashing the three fingers salute, smile and get your groove on.

B411: Gary Allegretto, native of Wilmington DE., will be there performing and with his ‘Harmonikids’.
GF:  Gary is very excited this year winning the “Keepin’ The Blues Alive Award ” for his Harmonikids Project which he takes around the world and thank Hohner for being a big part of his accomplishment.

B411: I even took part in his lesson last year, and I was able to play! He is playing on which of the two stages?
GF: Gary will be performing on what we call the Tweener Stage. Local & Regional Bands doing 30min sets in between the Main Stage Sets. Performing are Kenny Jones & Blues Streak, Randy Lippincott (Former Band Leader for the Late Great Johnny Clyde Copeland), April Mae & The June Bugs , Gary Allegretto, Mikey Junior & Stone Cold Blues (Diamond State Blues Society’s IBC Entry in 2011), Blue Cat Blues, Flamin’ Harry, Venom Blues and Zydeco A Go Go.
Oh don’t forget both Friday Aug 5th, and Saturday Aug 6th we will have after-party jams featuring Travis Haddix on Friday and Victor Wainwright & The WildRoots on Saturday night.

B411: Thanks for doing this talk, and for the festival. Anything else we need to know about the Diamond State Blues Society or their activities?
GF: The Diamond State Blues Society 501c3 is a non profit Organization dedicated to keepin the blues alive in the Tri State Area. Stay tuned to our website ( for the line up for September 24th 2011 – Battle Of The Bands: Goin’ To Memphis. and November 10th Blues Harvest 2011 @ J.B McGinnis Pub & Grille.
Some exciting news in mid to late 2012, a new blues club will be coming to Saint Georges Delaware attached to The Saint Georges Country Store this will be the new home for the Diamond State Blues Society. Anyone can become a member of the blues society by sending a check or money order to:
DSBS P.O. Box 863 Middletown , Delaware 19709 $15 single membership /$25 family /$50 Corp.
Let’s all help to keep the blues alive ! See ya the Festival.

Until next time, Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,
© 2011

photos: Leslie K. Joseph

The Smile That Launched A Thousand Riffs – Joanne Shaw Taylor

With the birth of Blues411 I haven’t been hitting the streets much, so on Wednesday I decided to head on down to the Dinosaur BBQ (where the music is always free) and catch a performer whom I had seen briefly in Memphis at the BMA’s, Joanne Shaw Taylor.

This was not an easy decision, see the Baseball playoffs were starting that night and the Yankees were in Minnesota playing the Twins. With the Yankees suddenly limping into the playoffs, it would be the crucial first game and they would need me to support their effort thru the magic of television. But off I went, hoping for the best of both worlds.

In case you didn’t know, Ms. Taylors’ 2009 release ‘White Sugar’, on Ruf records, was nominated in the Best New Artist Category. This was an honor she shared with an impressive group of other artists such as Greg Nagy, Marquise Knox, The California Honeydrops, and the winner, Monkey Junk. So this young lady has some pedigree as a Blues player.

With a good crowd eagerly awaiting her opening notes, the level of expectancy was palpable and the chatter was focused on what might be in store for us tonight. So up upon the stage appears a slightly built, almost waif like, blonde young lady that exploded with an torching instrumental opening number. ‘Awe struck’ might be an apt phrase for how the crowd reacted to what she was putting down. A smile from her face, and how’s everyone doing tonight, led straight away into renditions from White Sugar. Hearing Albert Collin &  Stevie Ray Vaughn influences filtered thru this young lady’s musical ear, had the crowd yelling for more, and moving right up to stage side for a closer look at this wunderkind of a Blues player.

With the fact of the latter statement, I must admit I was shut out somewhat from viewing her pyro-technics, but it did give me a chance to snag a peek at the Yankees-Twins game; not good. Yankees down three-zero, I decided that I needed to get closer to the action on stage and let events of the baseball game play themselves out. Refocusing my attention to the show and getting somewhat better situated – I was treated to some superb interaction between Ms. Shaw and her band. Now not all her selections were of the Collins & SRV vein. She did treat us to some deep, murky, slow blues numbers, one of which was Blackest Day. Exhibiting some nice phrasing and tonal qualities showed that there is an accomplished guitar player here, who is capable of creating a mural of sounds to fit the song.

A question from Ms. Taylor to the audience, ‘Does anybody like Jimi Hendrix”? Ahh duh, but I am always leery of anyone covering the material of the late Mr. Hendrix. My five year old nephew can play the licks but that’s not the point, one must grasp the music that they are playing and not just the notes. So with a certain amount of trepidation I hear Ms. Shaw say “… Manic Depression” OK – not too many people cover this so let’s bring it on. Freaking unbelievable! As she hits the ascending notes from the opening riff, and the band kicks in on a wild merry go round ride thru one of the finest ‘original covers’ of this hallowed song I had ever heard. People are stunned, it’s quiet except for the wall of sound coming from the stage. Moving in and out of the familiar riffs that we know she then applied her own twists and turns, then making a slight return to the familiar before ending it with a smile. A quick note, at one point, I glanced over at the TV screen, and the Yankees have moved ahead of the Twins, and all is good. The perfect storm of Ms. Taylor, Mr. Hendrix and the Yankees made the night memorable for me (and from the cheers of the crowd) them too.

With people flocking to her side for CD’s and autographs, the lady with the smile that launched a thousand riffs had solidified her spot as an up and coming guitar slinger-songwriter. Her  new apostles happy in knowing that they can say they saw her when…I headed back out into the colored rain to my car. Heading home to catch the last innings of the Yankee victory. It was a good night all around, and I am glad I made the trip. So will you be when you see Ms. Joanne Shaw Taylor.

Until Next Time,

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease

PS: Well with the Yankees sweep of Minnesota it looks like the triumverate of Joanne Shaw Taylor, Jimi Hendrix and Dinosaur worked wonders 😉


photos courtesy of: chefjimi
©Blues411, 2010