A slice of the Blues

Bob Margolin and Mud Morganfield

Mud Morganfield, son of blues icon Muddy Waters, shares center stage at the Blues Music Awards with legendary blues guitarist Bob Margolin who played in the band led by Mud’s famous father.

Devon Allman

Click on the pic to see Devon Allman, son of Greg Allman, playing at the Blues Music Awards.

Unlike most performing arts, the Blues is not rife with prima donna performers. There is little if any ring kissing — and talking to most of the luminaries of the genre is about like talking to someone you meet in a checkout line. Perhaps the prevailing attitude is a lingering imprint of the Blues’ humble beginnings. Blues crisscrosses ethnic and age lines like a steel sphere in a pinball machine on steroids. Other than the music, in my humble opinion, that set of conditions sets the Blues apart from other performing venues.

Nowhere is this set of conditions more pronounced than at the Blues Music Awards held annually in Memphis, Tennessee. The event is a giant southern sit-down supper that lasts for seven hours or so during which you hear blues performed by those considered to be at the top of the form — and see a number of them receive awards which confirms their greatness.

Before we go much further, we suggest that you digress to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started. You’ll see pictures of some folks named “Allman” and “Neville.” We’ll wait here while you look.

All this goes on as you discover that at your neighboring table sit these artists who light up the room with their performances and in some cases win one or more of the several awards. Award winners are universally humble and grateful for the recognition they receive,

Janiva Magness

Double award winner Janiva Magness turns in a lively performance of her award-winning song, “I won’t cry.” As she accepted her awards, her emphasis was on her family.

Rick Estrin

Rick Estrin, winner of the “Instrumentalist of the year, harmonica award,” seems to be in a Shakespearean mode, as in: “Alas, poor harmonica, I knew ye well.” Actually he is singing. His vocal talents are on par with his “harp” skills.

Anna Raines and Paul Rishell

Annie Raines (vocals and harp), and Paul Rishell perform on the “acoustic” corner of the stage. The duo’s past awards include the W. C. Handy Award and the Acoustic Album of the Year in 2004.

Harrison Kennedy playing mandolin at the Blues Music Awards

As Harrison Kennedy picked his mandolin and sang the blues, I imagined myself sitting on the steps of a country store on a gravel road, breaking a sweat, and slapping skeeters. That’s southern.

I wish I had been the first to say “Not black, not white, just the blues,” but some wise soul beat me to it. The words say that Blues is the music of the people and no one is exempt from enjoying good blues performances. Perhaps that is because no one is exempt from an occasional case of “the blues.”

See more of the Blues Music Awards in these galleries:

2013 Blues Music Awards Gallery 1 (23 pictures)

2013 Blues Music Awards Gallery 2 (25 pictures)

2013 Blues Music Awards Gallery 3 (19 pictures)

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.


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