Internationally renowned Canadian Blues artists from coast to coast were honoured by their peers at the 19th Annual Maple Blues Awards gala in Toronto last night as a full house of blues lovers gathered to celebrate Canadian blues at Koerner Hall.
Montreal based guitar hero and one man band Steve Hill took home three awards, including Entertainer of the Year, Electric Act of the Year, and Guitarist of the Year. Also winning multiple awards was Nashville based Canadian guitarist and music icon Colin Linden, who took home awards for Recording/Producer of the Year for his album “Rich In Love” and Songwriter of the Year. The Songwriter of the Year award was presented to Linden by Barbara Newman, the new CEO of The Blues Foundation and Charlie Andrews, Manager of the SOCAN Foundation.
Western Canada’s thriving blues scene was represented with awards for British Columbia’s Harpdog Brownfor Harmonica Player of the Year, David Vest for Piano or Keyboard Player of the Year, Manitoba’s Big Dave McLean for Acoustic Act of the Year with the New Artist of the Year award presented to Alberta’s Kirby Sewell Band.
Toronto Blues Society President Derek Andrews and Electro-Fi Records President Andrew Galloway presented Larry Kurtz, founder and Artistic Director of the Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival with the Blues Booster of the Year award, a very special Maple Blues Award honouring outstanding contribution to the Canadian blues music industry. Musicians Eric Bibb and Steve Strongman presented legendary Maritimes performer Theresa Malenfant with the Blues With a Feeling (Lifetime Achievement Award) for her outstanding career in the blues music community. Malenfant accepted the award with enthusiasm via video.
An additional award was handed out last night as the winners of the second annual Cobalt Prize for Contemporary Blues Composition were announced. The founder of the award, musician Paul Reddick, presented Conor Gains with a cash prize of $1000 for his song “Leave It On The Line”, with runners-up Cecile Doo-Kingueand Tim Bastmeyer also receiving cash prizes.
Hosted by radio and television personality Gil Deacon, the 19th annual Maple Blues Awards included outstanding performances from The Maple Blues Band and Maple Blues Award nominees past and present, including David Gogo, Colin Linden, Samantha Martin, Harrison Kennedy, Cecile Doo-Kingue and John Campbelljohn.
Winners of the 19th Annual Maple Blues Awards
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
ELECTRIC ACT OF THE YEAR
ACOUSTIC ACT OF THE YEAR
Big Dave McLean
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Kirby Sewell Band
RECORDING/PRODUCER OF THE YEAR
Colin Linden Rich In Love (Stony Plain); Producers: Colin Linden, John Dymond & Gary Craig
BLUES WITH A FEELING (Lifetime Achievement)
B.B. KING INTERNATIONAL ARTIST OF THE YEAR
GUITARIST OF THE YEAR
HARMONICA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
PIANO/KEYBOARD PLAYER OF THE YEAR
HORN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
DRUMMER OF THE YEAR
BASSIST OF THE YEAR
SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
BLUES BOOSTER OF THE YEAR
2015 Cobalt Prize for Contemporary Composition
Winner: Conor Gains “Leave It On The Line”
1st Runner Up: Tim Bastmeyer “Malted Milk”
2nd Runner Up: Cecile Doo-Kingue “Riot & Revolution”