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Eighteen Honored For Keeping The Blues Alive

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) —
The Blues Foundation's 2005 Keeping The Blues Alive (KBA) Awards will recognize 18 individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the blues world during a recognition brunch on February 5, in Memphis, TN. The KBA ceremony will be part of the International Blues Challenge (IBC) weekend of events, commencing on February 3 that will feature the semifinals and finals of the 21st IBC competition as well as seminars, presentations, and receptions for Blues societies, fans, and professionals.

Unlike the W.C. Handy Blues Awards, the highest award in the blues voted on by the thousands of members of The Blues Foundation, the KBAs are awarded to non-performers strictly on the basis of merit by a select panel of bues professionals.

“The KBA is awarded for the recipient's lifetime body of work," said noted educator, author, journalist and KBA chairman Art Tipaldi. "We don’t view the recipient as the winner of a ‘best of the year’ category. Consistent with this philosophy, the committee generally refrains from awarding the KBA to an individual or organization more than once. Rather, we select a new deserving winner each year, except in rare cases when a significant period of time has elapsed since the first award.”

2005 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipients (with comments by the KBA):

Blues Club: Moondog’s, Pittsburgh, PA

Since 1989, when Ron Esser became the owner and manager of Moondog’s in Pittsburgh, it has been blessed with performances by late greats such as Johnny Copeland, Luther Allison, and Junior Wells; current stars before they became blues household names, including Keb’ Mo’, Susan Tedeschi, and Shemekia Copeland; as well as serving as a haven for Walter Trout, Tinsley Ellis, Jimmy Thackery, and their fans. After all these years, he has never lost his love of live music.

Blues Organization: Santa Barbara Blues Society, Santa Barbara, CA

The Santa Barbara Blues Society was founded in 1977 and has been one of the prime forces in keeping the blues thriving on the central California coast. Its mission then and today is to present only the authentic Blues men and women, artistically faithful to the African-American Bbues traditions. As the country’s oldest blues society, the Santa Barbara Blues Society was awarded the first KBA to a society in 1982. Over the years, the Society has hosted over 130 performers and staged over 170 concerts. The 400-member strong society is deeply committed to encourage Blues in the Schools and raising the profile of Blues in the adult community. Throughout its 27 years, the Santa Barbara Blues Society has earned the respect of everyone in the community for contributing to the cultural enrichment of that region.

Education: Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC

What began in 1959 as a meeting place for local musicians, The Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation has, since 1998, been teaching blues history in schools, hospitals, festivals, and libraries. After the death of Piedmont Blues guitarist Archie Edwards, his barbershop became the center of his wish–to keep the stories and guitar licks alive. A foundation was created; the barbershop was given a facelift; and his longtime friends, Michael Baytop, Richard “Bones” Thomas, Napoleon Brundage, NJ Warner, Eleanor Ellis, and Miles Spicer took up Edwards’ mandate.

Film: The Howlin Wolf Story ,Don McGlynn, director; Joe Lauro, producer

The Howlin’ Wolf Story, the first film biography of the Wolf, was directed by Don McGlynn and produced by Joe Lauro. Their in-depth look at Wolf's life and music includes astounding, rare film footage and never-before-seen photos of Wolf stalking the stage at the 1964 American Folk Blues Festival, on the TV show "Shindig" in 1965, at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival, and in the Chicago clubs in the '50s and '60s. It also includes entertaining and revealing new interviews with Hubert Sumlin, Jody Williams, Billy Boy Arnold, Sam Lay, Paul Burlison, Wolf's stepdaughters Barbara and Bettye, Dick Shurman, and many other people who played with and knew Wolf in his heyday.

This is the definitive documentary about the Wolf–the most complete, personal, and exciting look at the blues legend ever put to film. McGlynn and Lauro have also collaborated on Louis Prima: The Wildest (2001) and Somewhere Over The Rainbow: Harold Arlen (1998). McGlynn is the director of numerous award-winning jazz documentaries including Charles Mingus: Triumph Of The Underdog. Lauro has acted as musical director and consultant on numerous films including the Academy Award Winning (Best Documentary) The Ten Year Lunch. The DVD of The Howlin' Wolf Story was released by Bluebird/RCA Victor group in cooperation with Barry Feldman and was the first DVD in Bluebird's new Blues/Roots series “When The Sun Goes Down.”

Historic Preservation: Music Maker Relief Foundation, Hillsborough, NC

What began in 1990 as Tim Duffy’s dream was born for real in January 1994. Music Maker Relief Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern musical traditions gain recognition and meet their day-to-day needs. It is our hope that one day there will be a Music Maker Center. A place where artists could take residence, share each other’s company and music, record, and hold seminars. Tim’s vision includes a roadside attraction where people come and explore documentary exhibits, have a meal, see a live performance, and support the unsung heroes of southern music.

Journalism: Dave Rubin, New York

As an author for the Hal Leonard Corporation, Dave Rubin has written more than 20 books on blues guitar, including his ongoing Inside the blues series, and has been a musical director for instructional Starlicks Videos with Honeyboy Edwards, Son Seals, Duke Robillard, and others. As the main blues writer for Guitar One magazine, Rubin brings his insights and expertise to readers outside of the hardcore blues world month after month. His well-informed features, profiles, CD reviews, and gig reviews give Blues artists the opportunity to reach a wide, mainstream, music-loving audience. He has produced an extensive blues course for and has also written about blues for Guitar Player, Guitar World, Blues Access, and Living Blues magazines. He has taught blues guitar in New York City for 25 years.

Literature: Down in Houston: Bayou City Blues,Roger Wood, Houston

Roger Wood has compiled the definitive history of the blues men and women of the various inner-city wards and outlying communities of Houston. Many of these Texas performers, like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Johnny Copeland, and Albert Collins, are known throughout the world, but Wood also shines a spotlight on the legions of lesser-known blues singers and musicians who in recent years have performed mainly in the city wards. Throughout the book, Wood takes his readers on a personal and intimate journey into the streets of Houston and its local jukes and ballrooms to know these people. James Fraher, a 1996 KBA winner for his definitive work, enhances the book with 120 full-page photographs.

Manager/Agent: Hugh Southard, Blue Mountain Artists, Charlotte, NC

Hugh Southard got his first taste of the music business in 1978 at the notorious Elbow Room in Harrisonburg, Virginia, which hosted such acts as Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Bonnie Raitt. In 1988 he served Valentino’s as the booking agent and bar manager, offering such blues staples as Saffire, John Hammond, Tinsley Ellis, Jimmy Thackery, Bob Margolin, and The Nighthawks. Hugh worked at Piedmont Talent from 1995-2003, when he and co-worker Page Stallings formed Blue Mountain Artists, which now represents Pinetop Perkins, Tab Benoit, Jimmy Thackery, Michael Burks, Hubert Sumlin, Corey Harris, and other blues acts. Blue Mountain Artists began with the hopes of offering a diverse and personalized alternative for music based in the roots of the American music tradition and its diversity should reflect that into the foreseeable future.

Photography: Dr. Ernest C. Withers, Memphis, TN

Is there another picture that more epitomizes Memphis music than Whithers’ 1956 picture of young Elvis Presley and B.B. King? In fact, flipping through Withers’ book of photography, The Memphis Blues Again, Six Decades of Memphis Music Photographs, is like traveling in a time machine to a bygone era in America. He photographed clubs, dance halls, churches, recording studios, and people in a mission to document what he called “The Black side of life.” His pictures are of musical legends like B.B. King, Rufus Thomas, Howlin’ Wolf, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Ray Charles, Bobby Blue Bland, Ruth Brown, and countless others. He is best known for the photographic record of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ‘60s, which range from the trial of the murders of Emmitt Till to the funeral of Martin Luther King. His life’s work is an invaluable contribution to American cultural history.

Print Media: Offbeat Magazine, New Orleans, LA

OffBeat is New Orleans' and Louisiana's music and entertainment magazine. It is the first purchase every music fan should invest in when he arrives in the Crescent City. Published every month, OffBeat contains interviews and features on the music and musicians in one of the nation's most musical cities as well as the city's most comprehensive club listings, Louisiana Music on Tour, Jazz Fest information, and dates of Louisiana fairs and festivals. And every issue contains features and reviews of the blues that thrives in New Orleans.

Producer: Dick Shurman, Chicago

Dick Shurman’s career as blues writer and producer spans over a quarter of a century. His past work as a producer includes artists like Roy Buchanan, Albert Collins, Magic Slim, Charlie Musselwhite, Little Smokey Smothers, Lee Shot Williams, and Johnny Winter. Among his numerous Grammy nominations stands the winner, Showdown! Recently, he was instrumental in the resurgence of Jody Williams’ career. Dick produced both of Williams' recent Evidence albums. In 2004, he also produced the latest Johnny Winter album.

Promoter: Roger Naber, Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, Kansas City, MO

Roger Naber has been promoting the blues for over 25 years, as an independent promoter, as owner of the twice-honored KBA Blues club Grand Emporium in Kansas City, as co-founder of the Kansas City Blues Society and the Kansas City Blues & Heritage Festival, and as the co-founder of the Ultimate Rhythm and Blues cruise. After a brief hiatus, he revived the blues cruise idea four years ago with his Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise. Where else can you snorkel with Charlie Musselwhite, shop with Shemekia Copeland, eat gourmet meals with Taj Mahal, and tan with your favorite rhythm section? Imagine fleeing the cold winter for a week of high seas cruising with blues music playing 24/7. It is named "Bluesin'" and that's the festival experience Roger Naber and the entire Legendary staff provides on each cruise. Where everyone has a "backstage pass."

Publicist: Marc Lipkin, Alligator Records, Chicago
Imagine how hard it is to get the blues into the mainstream media. Marc Lipkin has fought that fight for over 12 years. He writes all Alligator artist bios and press releases as well as staying in close contact with writers, editors, television talent bookers and National Public Radio Producers. Because of his tireless efforts, blues fans have been treated to the likes of Mavis Staples, Koko Taylor, Shemekia Copeland, the Holmes Brothers, Marcia Ball, and Little Charlie and the Nightcats on NPR broadcasts as well as on national television programs. His efforts have brought coverage of Alligator artists in local blues society newsletters to weekly alternative papers to major daily newspapers to national publications like Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly.

Radio (Commercial): Sonny Payne, KFFA
, Helena, AR

No one has devoted more to keeping the blues alive than Sonny Payne, the legendary host of KFFA’s King Biscuit Time, the longest running blues radio show in history. He first broadcast the show in July 1942 before entering military service in December. He returned to the show in August 1951 and has hosted over 13,000 of those. A native of Helena, Arkansas, Payne has been honored from coast to coast for his love of blues and commitment to blues artists. In 2003, he was inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame and was named Volunteer of the Year by the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Payne still broadcasts Monday through Friday from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. on KFFA. He starts every show with his famous line, “Pass the biscuits. It’s King Biscuit Time.” The first two songs are always by the legendary Sonny Boy Williamson.

Radio (Public): WRFG, Atlanta

No terrestrial radio station programs more blues than WRFG (89.3FM) in Atlanta, and the blues world has no better friend than WRFG. The station programs 20 hours of blues a week — four hours a day during morning drive time ("Good Morning Blues"), Monday through Friday. The morning blues show is followed by two hours of roots and R&B. The station's DJ's are knowledgeable and dedicated; the playlists are large and open. This type of support in a major metropolitan area is vital to the health and well being of Blues music.

Record Label: Blind Pig Records, San Francisco

In the 1970s, Blues labels like Blind Pig were created from the meager savings of devout fans. Like most labors of Blues love, the label was born from wanting to record and share the performances of the players who played the Blind Pig Cafe in Ann Arbor, MI. What co-founders Edward Chmelewski and Jerry Del Giudice began in 1977 has grown into one of the most well known blues labels in the world. From the very first Blind Pig artist, Boogie Woogie Red, to first generation Bluesmen like Johnny Shines and Jimmy Rogers to the most recent recordings by Rod Piazza and Magic Slim, consumers will never go wrong with any Blind Pig product.

Retailer: Music Millennium
, Portland, OR

With two locations and over 35 years on the business, Music Millennium has earned the reputation as one of the finest record stores in the country. For the blues fan, its selection of blues is excellent and it provides regular in-store performances by many touring blues bands playing in the Portland area. In an era of large, corporate music stores without soul or identity, Music Millennium is a reminder of that old school atmosphere of buying music most of us remember.

Sponsor: bandVillage, Peter Fleming, Sarasota, FL

Conceived by its founder, Peter Fleming, as a better way to promote independent musicians, encourage live music, and most importantly encourage fans to support those musicians, is a global music portal providing musicians, fans, and venues with services to keep independent music alive. He has taken time from bandVillage and its parent company 1030 Consulting LLP to donate hundreds of hours designing, building, and maintaining, The Blues Foundation’s website. bandVillage is also a sponsor of the 2005 International Blues Challenge. — Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

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