QC to Memphis

Big Week for Quebec Blues Artists

Maple Bues Awards

Two blues events fill this week’s blues calendar. And Quebec blues artists will be well represented at both!

It all starts on Monday, January 15th, at beautiful Koerner Hall in Toronto, impeccably hosted by the Toronto Blues Society. ShoShona Kish of Digging Roots takes over hosting duties from Steve Marriner this year. Marriner was a smash with his numerous impressions and ability to roast his fellow artists in good taste. We’re still waiting for the ‘adults only’ version of the awards ceremony so that David Gogo can host! 

The 21st Annual Maple Blues Awards will recognize Canadian blues excellence and the winners in 16 different categories will be announced. Ten categories are voted on by the public, and the six instrumental categories are determined by the Maple Blues Nominating Panel. And Quebec blues artists hold an incredible 25 nominations in 12 of the 16 categories!

Quebec artists have earned the nod regularly over the past few years; from Angel Forrest’s multiple repeats as Female Vocalist of the Year, to Paul DesLauriers Band and Steve Hill multi-award harvests.

The Quebec nominees for each of the categories is as follows:
  • The Entertainer of the Year category is dominated by Quebec acts, pulling down four of the five nominations: Dawn Tyler Watson, fresh off her 2017 IBC win, the Paul DesLauriers Band, Steve Hill, and Angel Forrest
  • Three of the five nominees in the Electric Act of the Year are also Quebec based: Steve Hill, the Paul DesLauriers Band, and Dawn Tyler Watson
  • Two more Quebec acts vie for the Acoustic Act of the Year honours: Michael Jerome Browne and Rob Lutes
  • Dawn Tyler Watson, Cécile Doo-Kingué, and Angel Forrest are up for the Female Vocalist of the Year award- can they dislodge Angel’s stranglehold for the title?
  • West Island guitar sensation Justin Saladino and his band are up for the New Artist or Group of The Year honours
  • Two more Quebec acts are up for the title of Songwriter of the Year: Cécile Doo-Kingué and Rob Lutes 
  • The lifetime achievement award, coined the Blues with a Feeling Award, sees a nomination for Michael Jerome Browne
  • The Guitarist of the Year category is also crowded with our local musicians: Cécile Doo-Kingué, Paul DesLauriers, and Steve Hill
  • Guy Bélanger could pull down his second Harmonica Player of the Year award this year
  • Two Quebec entries for Horn Player of the Year, both from the Ben Racine Band: Little Frankie Thiffault and Moose Mousseau
  • A pair of percussionists from La Belle Province, Nicky Estor and Sam Harrisson, are nominated for the Drummer of the Year title
  • Last year’s Bassist of the Year recipient, Greg Morency, is looking to repeat

Congratulations to all the nominees and good luck to all our Quebec artists!

International Blues Challenge #34

The very next day the International Showcases kick off the 34th Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. Most Canadian blues societies have acts registered in either the Solo/Duo or Band category and we look forward to crossing paths with them all week long. The Great Canadian Polar Bear Blues Showcase, organized by the Ottawa Blues Society, takes place on Thursday, and all Canadian acts in Memphis will perform at the Kooky Canuck.

Last year the Montreal Blues Society was fortunate enough to be represented by John ‘The Stickman’ Muggianu in the Youth Showcase, Pat Loiselle and Martin Hury in the Solo/Duo category, and of course Dawn Tyler Watson, along with the Ben Racine Band, who ultimately pulled down top honours in the Band category at the Orpheum Theater.

The Montreal Blues Society held its’ Solo/Duo contest last August as part of the Trois-Rivières en Blues festival, and Steve Hill earned the right to make the trek to Memphis next week. Glad I don’t have to pay his excess baggage fees! The Band category was judged at the Bistro à JoJo in October, and Angel Forrest gets to pack up her bus for the Road to Memphis (don’t worry, they’re actually flying)!

Good luck to Steve and Angel!

See you down there.

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