The 2014 Keeping the Blues Alive Awards recipients are:
Affiliated Organization: Crossroads Blues Society of Illinois – Rockford, Illinois Art: Cristen Craven Barnard – Senatobia, Mississippi Club: Kingston Mines – Chicago, Illinois Education: Tas Cru – Chaumont, New York Festival (International): BluesCazorla – Cazorla, Spain Festival (U.S.): Mississippi Valley Blues Festival – Davenport, Iowa Film, Television, and Video: Stefan Grossman – Sparta, New Jersey Historical Preservation: George Mitchell – Fort Myers, Florida International: Royal Mail Hotel – Goodna, Queensland, Australia Journalism: Gene Tomko – Lafayette, Louisiana Literature: Gerard Herzhaft – Lyon, France Manager: Marcia Weaver – Jackson, Mississippi Photography: Dick Waterman – Oxford, Mississippi Producer: Tom Hambridge – Nashville, Tennessee Promoter: Myron Mu – San Francisco, California Publicist: Frank Roszak – North Hills, California Radio (Commercial): Jerry Schaefer – East Islip, New York Radio (Public): Larry Lisk – St. Petersburg, Florida Record Label: Stony Plain Records – Edmonton, Alberta Special Committee Award: Blue Star Connection – Winter Park, Colorado
Tickets to the KBA ceremony are available online at www.blues.org or by calling 901-527-2583.
The International Blues Challenge is sponsored in significant part by ArtsMemphis, Beale Street Merchants Association, BMI, Catfood Records, the Consulate General of Canada – Atlanta, FedEx, First Tennessee Foundation, Gibson Guitars, Handy Family Beverages, Jontaar Creative Studios, Lee Oskar Harmonicas, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Levitt Shell, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, St. Blues Guitars, Tennessee Arts Commission, and VividPix & Design.
Media sponsors include Beale Street Caravan, Big City Rhythm and Blues, Blues Festival Guide, Downtowner, Elwood’s Bluesmobile, Living Blues, Memphis Flyer, and Music on the Couch.
2014 Keeping the Blues Alive Award Recipients
Affiliated Organization: Crossroads Blues Society of Illinois – Rockford, Illinois The Crossroads Blues Society of Illinois, founded in 1994, has since 2001 made its Blues in the Schools programs its primary emphasis. KBA recipient Fruteland Jackson helped kick off its school efforts in 2002, and its most recent programs were with KBA recipient Michael “Hawkeye” Herman. These two performers have done more school programs for the society than have any other artists. Since its inception, the society has completed 122 programs and reached over 38,000 students. From the beginning, it has published a newsletter with news, reviews, radio playlists, and upcoming events. Today, that newsletter is published in full color and is delivered to over 500 recipients. The society’s main fund-raising efforts have been through blues festivals. The Byron Crossroads Blues Festival has been held each August for the past four years, and the society added a second major event last year, the Field of Blues Festival in Loves Park, Illinois. The society is also actively involved with fund-raising for entities such as the Music Maker Relief Foundation, hurricane relief efforts, and individual contributions to musicians in need of medical aid. In 2007 the society was awarded the Rockford Area Music Industry Award as the best community outreach group.
Art: Cristen Craven Barnard – Senatobia, Mississippi Cristen Barnard began as an artist at age 4, and has grown to be a major illustrator of blues festival posters since her first in 1997 for the King Biscuit Festival. Since then, she has supplied the posters for six more King Biscuit Festivals. She has also supplied the art for the Notodden Blues Festival (four times), the Highway 61 Blues Festival (ten), Clarksdale’s Juke Joint Festival (seven), the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival (four), Haney’s Big House Ferriday Music Festival (three), the Mississippi Development Authority’s Road Trip tours (three), the Natchez Art and Soul Festival, Charleston's Gateway to the Delta Festival, and the Pinetop Perkins Homecoming. In addition, Barnard designed the famous Railroad Park murals of W.C. Handy and Sonny Boy Williamson in downtown Tutwiler, as well as murals in Helena, Leland, Batesville, and Ruleville, and a huge hanging mural for Notodden’s 25th anniversary. She is perhaps best known for her painting of the legendary “Deal at the Crossroads.”
Club: Kingston Mines – Chicago, Illinois
For 45 years, Kingston Mines has been one of the premier destinations to experience the blues in Chicago. Founded in 1968 by “Doc” Pellegrino, this family business has become a landmark on the Near North Side. Early on, Pellegrino, who was known for his many innovations over the years, set up two stages: when one band takes a break, the other band jumps into action, keeping the music going constantly throughout the evening. Over the decades, Kingston Mines has featured blues legends such as B.B. King and Koko Taylor. These days, any given month will feature the likes of Joanna Connor, Billy Branch, Carl Weathersby, John Primer, Eddie Shaw, Demetria Taylor, Nellie “Tiger” Travis, and many more great artists. With a reputation for some of the best late-night barbeque in the city, Kingston Mines is open for several hours after most Chicago clubs have closed (until 5 a.m. on Saturdays), making it a perfect destination for blues fans to let the good times roll … all night long!
Education: Tas Cru – Chaumont, New York For over 20 years, Tas Cru has been developing and conducting activities ranging from teaching about the blues and its history to teaching people how to play and enjoy the blues. In that time, Cru and his various programs have reached over 18,000 students in 12 states. His model is simple: before he embarks on a program, he works with individual teachers to better assess the needs of their students as he tailors his presentation. Thus his unique approach can fit into almost any school curriculum from Language Arts to Social Studies to Music. He has also funded the production of his children’s CD, Even Bugs Sing the Blues. Teacher Lindsay Wilbanks summed up the numerous endorsements: “I can say that Mr. Cru’s presentation was the most age appropriate and engaging presentation to date. He had students dancing, singing, and thinking about how the blues genre relates to their lives.”
Festival (International): BluesCazorla – Cazorla, Spain For 20 years, the BluesCazorla festival has brought the finest blues performers to play on four stages around this tiny town. Located three hours south of Madrid, Cazorla features master classes and meet-and-greets, augmented by shows in the Plaza of Santa Maria, the Municipal Auditorium, and the town’s historic bull ring, where most of the headliners perform. Imagine Johnny Winter, Mavis Staples, Jimmie Vaughan, Rod Piazza, Charlie Musselwhite, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, Solomon Burke, and so many others performing in the center of a bull ring. Talk about growth – during the first 10 years, the festival featured four or five bands; in 1998, it began to hire international musicians; for its 10th year, it presented John Mayall, Buddy Guy, Rod Piazza, Otis Grand, and Sista Monica; and the 2013 edition of the festival featured over 30 bands and welcomed more than 25,000 visitors during its three-day run.
Festival (U.S.): Mississippi Valley Blues Festival – Davenport, Iowa This summer is the 30th anniversary of the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. It has become one of the longest-running, most prestigious blues festivals in the world. Held on the shore of the Mississippi River, this event features music on two outdoor stages and educational presentations in both an indoor workshop space and an outdoor tent area used for BlueSKool and children’s presentations. The festival is always held as close to July 4th as possible. Four different times, the festival has moved due to river flooding, and usually with only a week’s notice, but each time, festival organizers and volunteers have been up to the task. In 1995 the festival inaugurated its RiverRoad Award to honor the true legends of the blues, beginning with Honeyboy Edwards. Thus far, 36 men and women have been so honored. In 2013 the festival was the recipient of the Quad cities Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Hospitality Award.
Film, Television, and Video: Stefan Grossman – Sparta, New Jersey Though he may be best known as a major player in the folk and country blues revival of the 1960s, Stefan Grossman is being honored for the films he has made available through his Guitar Workshop series. Grossman began to acquire concert footage of the old blues and country artists who had been rediscovered in the 1960s and had often made TV appearances. This became the basis for Vestapol Videos, which edited and reissued the footage. It was a breakthrough for younger guitarists to be able to watch Big Bill Broonzy, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Rev. Gary Davis, and many others long after those players had died. Vestapol DVDs rapidly expanded to include concert footage of living artists, too. Today the Vestapol and Guitar Workshop instructional catalog numbers well over 200 DVDs, with many archival films presenting legends of the genre up close and personal. Guitar Workshop mails worldwide from its bases in New Jersey and Yorkshire.
Historical Preservation: George Mitchell - Fort Myers, Florida From the 1960s until the 1980s, George Mitchell traveled throughout the South and recorded blues musicians such as Jessie Mae Hemphill, Fred McDowell, Johnny Woods, George Henry Bussey, Jim Bunkley, Charlie Burse, Will Shade, Gus Cannon, Joe Callicott, John Lee Ziegler, Jimmy Lee Williams, Furry Lewis, Houston Stackhouse, R.L. Burnside, and Sleepy John Estes. His first recordings, in 1962, included Lewis, Cannon, Shade, and others in Memphis. Over the years, more than 100 of Mitchell’s field recordings have been released on labels such as Arhoolie, Flyright, Rounder, Fat Possum, and others to critical acclaim. In addition, Mitchell has written three books about his experiences and his field recordings. His photographs of blues musicians from Tennessee, Georgia, Chicago, Mississippi, and Alabama are well known and acclaimed, and his photographs of Mississippi Hill Country blues musicians have been exhibited at the Mississippi Museum of Art and at other locations.
International: The Royal Mail Hotel – Goodna, Queensland, Australia The Royal Mail Hotel, established in the 1840s as a classic Australian pub, and owner Andrew Café have a wonderful history of providing live blues every week for the past 26 years. The hotel has become one of the best establishments in Australia for roots and blues music. When he was asked about the Royal Mail Hotel, an exchange student from Down Under answered, “That’s where people go to hear the blues.” Though it may at first have the feel of a typical Aussie pub, once the music starts, the vibe becomes that of a Mississippi juke joint.
Journalism: Gene Tomko – Lafayette, Louisiana Gene Tomko started out as a photographer capturing images of the blues artists he so admired more than 20 years ago when the blues resurgence of the ’80s and ’90s was in full swing, traveling often to Chicago, Mississippi, New Orleans, and other notable hot spots. His work began appearing in various blues magazines, and in time he became a regular contributor to Living Blues. His images also appeared in Juke Blues, DownBeat, Jefferson, Soul Bag, and other publications worldwide. Eventually he was not only photographing the artists, but also writing about them. Then after tracking down long-disappeared bluesman Billy “The Kid” Emerson, Tomko started his Lost Blues Files column for Living Blues, in which he sets out to locate and pay tribute to musicians who have either fallen off the radar or mysteriously vanished from the blues and soul world, such as Ironing Board Sam, Charlie Whitehead, Cousin Leroy, and Leroy Washington. In 2006 he co-authored the book Black Hoboes & Their Songs with Paul Garon. His writing and photography have appeared in many books, CD and LP releases, and documentaries, and he continues to rack up the mileage chasing and documenting the blues.
Literature: Gerard Herzhaft – Lyon, France Gerard Herzhaft’s Encyclopedia of the Blues should be an essential addition to every fan’s bookshelf. It was first published in 1979 in Europe, but after many long trips to the United States, Herzhaft revised his book and released it in the U.S. through the University of Arkansas Press. The book includes alphabetical listing of performers, a discography, and 20 pages that trace the origins of blues standards. This encyclopedia has also been translated into German, Czech, and Spanish. But Herzhaft has written much more. He has penned over 1,000 articles since 1971 on blues history and music, published in nearly every blues and music publication here and abroad. He has written many essays on American music, as well as three blues-themed novels, all of which have been translated into English, and has won several literary awards in France. His Le Blues has been translated into Portuguese, Romanian, and Turkish, thus spreading the blues to millions of new readers and listeners. Finally, Herzhaft participated as a consultant from 1980 to 1992 in the creation of the Center for Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi.
Manager: Marcia Weaver – Jackson, Mississippi When Marcia Weaver became Dorothy Moore’s manager in the late 1990s, Moore had virtually quit the music business. Weaver helped Moore through legal issues regarding her royalties, and in 2002 helped her set up her own record label, Farish Street Records of Mississippi, for which Moore has now recorded four CDs. Thanks to Weaver’s tireless promotion of Moore, the singer of “Misty Blue” is on at least six Mississippi Trail Markers, was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, and received the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Monterey Bay Blues Festival. At the same time, Weaver has been largely responsible for Moore’s appearances across the United States, South America, Canada, South Africa, and Europe. In 2006 she helped Moore publish a children’s book, Little Dorothy.
Photography: Dick Waterman – Oxford, Mississippi If, as Rod Stewart famously sang, “Every picture tells a story,” then Dick Waterman has both the pictures and stories of the blues. As an agent and manager in the 1960s, Waterman and his Avalon Productions directed the careers of Son House, Fred McDowell, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, and nearly every other prewar bluesman still performing. He brought Junior Wells and Buddy Guy out of Chicago, and he met Bonnie Raitt as an 18-year-old college girl and managed her for many years. At the same time, Waterman actively photographed these legends and many others throughout the 1960s. His work chronicling events in Greenwich Village, the Newport Folk Festivals, and many other events is featured in his book, Between Midnight and Day. Those stunning black and white pictures, along with Waterman’s intimate personal recollections of every performer, are part of each lecture he gives. Waterman continues to share space in festival photo pits around the world, and serves as a mentor to every blues lover.
Producer: Tom Hambridge – Nashville, Tennessee Though Tom Hambridge has played drums with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, and Roy Buchanan and on countless award-winning albums, and has had over 300 of his own songs recorded since 2000, few people have produced as many critically acclaimed records. The industry first took note when he produced Susan Tedeschi’s Just Won’t Burn in 1998. Since then, Hambridge has produced records by Johnny Winter, George Thorogood, Steve Cropper, Joe Louis Walker, James Cotton, Quinn Sullivan, and many others. His most notable work has been producing the last four records by Buddy Guy, including the 2011 Grammy-winning Living Proof and Guy’s current 2013 release, Rhythm & Blues. Hambridge’s philosophy as a producer is not to look at his record collection and pick out 12 songs that would be cool to have the artist record; rather, he strives to create a new record for the artist so that others will want to cover the songs in the future.
Promoter: Myron Mu – San Francisco, California For 30 years, Myron Mu has booked bands to perform seven nights a week at his iconic San Francisco club, the Saloon. That might add up to more than 10,000 shows. And then factor in the fact that most days there are two bands playing, one performing an afternoon show while the other handles the evening music. People may come to the Saloon because of its history; musicians play there because of Mu, who has booked artists such as Johnny Ace, Tommy Castro, Cathy Lemons, Nick Gravenities, and many others. According to Steve Freund, “Rather than having to make phone calls to book a show months in advance, Myron calls you each month. This is practically unheard of in this day and age, and harkens back to the days when musicians were appreciated and treated fairly.” This is a lesson every promoter should take to heart.
Publicist: Frank Roszak – North Hills, California Though he has over 25 years of producing and engineering experience, Frank Roszak began his promotional work in 2004 as director of marketing and promotions for Delta Groove Records, where he was directly responsible for coordinating all aspects of Delta Groove and Eclecto Groove artists’ relations with media and radio outlets. In 2011 he founded Frank Roszak Promotions, dedicated to supporting deserving artists in both recordings and touring. His tireless work has garnered his clients’ publicity in all the major blues publications here and abroad – Guitar Player, Goldmine, DownBeat – as well as in USA Today, the New York Times, and many, many others. In addition, Roszak has secured top radio positioning for his clients with Sirius XM, Little Steven’s Underground Garage, Living Blues Charts, House of Blues Radio, Music Choice and Galaxie. The clients he has served since 2011 number more than 60 and include Big Bill Morganfield, Sugar Blue, Hans Theessink, J.P. Soars, Victor Wainwright, and many others.
Radio (Commercial): Jerry Schaefer – East Islip, New York Jerry Schaefer has presented the only commercial blues radio program in the New York City/Long Island area for more than a decade. His show, Graveyard Blues, is featured on WRCN 103.9 FM on Sundays from 10 p.m. to midnight. In addition to playing blues records, Schaefer also has conducted in-studio interviews with, and featured live performances by, the likes of B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Robert Cray, as well as local NYC blues acts. In conjunction with his 100th program, in 2004, Schaefer organized the first ever Graveyard Blues Festival, which has become an annual late-spring event raising money for local charities and the Suffolk County Make-A-Wish chapter.
Radio (Public): Larry Lisk – St. Petersburg, Florida Now in his 16th year hosting Mo Blues Monday on Tampa's WMNF 88.5 FM, a 70,000-watt community radio station, Larry Lisk has made his show the definitive place for west-central Florida blues lovers to get their weekly fix of music, information, and commentary. On the show, Lisk emphasizes the diversity of the blues, from its roots to classic blues to current performers. Introducing new artists to his faithful audience is a show mainstay, along with the popular Blues Goodie Bag, which has put more than 1,200 CDs, tickets and other blues-related items in the hands of his listeners. When not on the air, Lisk is the emcee for area festivals such as the Tampa Bay, Clearwater, and Sarasota blues festivals, and can generally be found where blues music is playing. In addition, he was a co-founder of the Suncoast Blues Society and served as president from 1997 to 2005.
Record Label: Stony Plain Records – Edmonton, Alberta Stony Plain Records was co-founded by Holger Petersen and Alvin Jahns 38 years ago. As Canada’s oldest independent blues label, Stony Plain has released over 350 records of both Canadian and American blues and roots artists such as Eric Bibb, Rory Block, Downchild, Ronnie Earl, Amos Garrett, Jeff Healey, MonkeyJunk, Maria Muldaur, Duke Robillard, Joe Louis Walker, and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne. In addition, Stony Plain has released music by legends such as Long John Baldry, Rosco Gordon, Jay McShann, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Lowell Fulson. As a testament to the quality of its recordings, Stony Plain has had six Grammy nominations as well as many Blues Music Award nominations, with almost a dozen wins. This small, independent label, which emphasizes quality over quantity, provides its artists with a stable business environment. At the center of this consistency is the tone set by its dedicated founders.
Special Committee Award: Blue Star Connection – Winter Park, Colorado Since its beginning in 2005, the mission of Blue Star Connection has been to help medically fragile children and teens. The organization was born when John Catt of the Grand County Blues Society asked a 17-year-old with two inoperable brain tumors if he played music. “I asked Colin if he’d play an electric guitar if he had one, and he said yeah. I asked him what color he’d want, and his mom said, ‘It has to be blue like his eyes.’ ” Two weeks later, Catt was sitting in a Radio Shack when a guy came in with a blue Ibanez electric guitar to donate to Blues in the Schools. Catt delivered it to Colin, and an idea took hold. Since then, Blue Star Connection has placed musical instruments in the hands of hundreds of children with life-challenging conditions, as well as with the music therapy departments of more than 25 children’s hospitals across the country. In the past five years, instruments have been donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, and the new Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.