The Blues Foundation Announces 2016 KBA Recipients

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2016 KBA RecipientsMEMPHIS, TN – The Blues Foundation will honor 15 individuals and organizations with its 2016 Keeping the Blues Alive Awards during a recognition luncheon Friday, January 29, 2016, in Memphis, Tennessee. Each year, The Blues Foundation presents the KBA Awards to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to blues music. The KBA ceremony will be held in conjunction with the 32nd International Blues Challenge, which begins January 27 and features the final rounds of the world’s largest and most prestigious blues music competition, as well as seminars, showcases, and receptions for blues societies, fans, and professionals.

The KBAs are awarded by a select panel of blues professionals to those working actively to promote and document the music. KBA Committee Chairman Art Tipaldi notes, “this year, the Board eliminated KBA categories as a way for the Committee to honor individuals who have excelled in a variety of KBA categories. Thus the slate of 15 winners includes individuals who have made a difference with their lengthy commitments to the blues. At the same time, the Committee made sure to continue to recognize larger, comprehensive entities like an affiliated organization, a North American festival, an International festival, a blues club, a record label, and a blues radio.”

The 2016 Keeping the Blues Alive Awards recipients are:
1. Chenango Blues Fest
2. Noel Hayes
3. Eric Suher
4. Sharon Mcconnell-Dickerson
5. Central Iowa Blues Society
6. Fred Delforge
7. Todd Glazer
8. Cahors Blues Festival
9. Yellow Dog Records
10. Erik Lindahl
11. Radio Station KZUM
12. Scott Cvelbar
13. Darwin’s Burgers and Blues
14. Alan Govenar
15. Greg Johnson

A summary for each recipient is below. 

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, ArtsZone, Beale Street Merchants Association, BMI, Everfest Mobile App, First Tennessee Foundation, Gibson Guitar, Jontaar Creative Studios, Lee Oskar Harmonicas, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, Saint Blues Guitar Workshop, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Tennessee Arts Commission, and VividPix & Design. Media sponsors include American Blues Scene, Beale Street Caravan, Big City Rhythm and Blues, Blues Festival GuideBlues Matters!, Downtowner, Elwood’s Bluesmobile, Living Blues, and Music on the Couch.

2016 Keeping the Blues Alive Award Recipients Summary

The Chenango Blues Festival was first held twenty-four years ago and has been run ever since by largely the same group of committed blues fans, supplemented by some new younger members. The nonprofit group has no paid positions and takes a “by fans, for fans” approach to all of its activities. The festival features continuous music on two stages, on-site camping, and a free Friday opening night. Headlined in year one by Anson Funderburgh with Sam Myers, other artists to appear include Luther Allison, Koko Taylor, Rod Piazza, Irma Thomas, North Mississippi All-Stars, Dick Waterman, Fabulous Thunderbirds and many more. The festival is always two weekends before Labor Day at the Chenango County Fairgrounds in Norwich, NY and its many regular fans look forward to this late summer stop on the festival circuit. The Chenango Blues Association also runs a Free Thursdays concert series in July and August.

Noel Hayes has been a blues patron since he first heard Charlie Musselwhite live in 1977.  As a result of his extensive blues knowledge, in 1985, Noel was asked to play music from his collection on listener-supported KPOO radio and talk about the artists.  He has hosted his own live-streamed show on Wednesday mornings since 2000. Working tirelessly to bring blues to the Bay Area and beyond, Noel has brought many musicians to San Francisco, inviting them to stay at his home to ease their financial burden, getting them gigs, and helping back several recordings. Musicians Noel has interviewed include – Floyd Dixon, Gatemouth Brown, Honeyboy Edwards, Ruth Brown, Howard Tate, and Johnny Copeland, as well as Elvin Bishop, Joe Louis Walker, Mighty Sam McClain, andDenise LaSalle, among many others.   He has also graciously emceed several IBC events for The Golden Gate Blues Society and was Blues DJ of the year from the Bay Area Blues Society in 2008.

While still in high school, in 1983, Eric Suher began working in various roles for the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet (NRBQ), launching a promoting career that has spanned four decades.  In 1995, Suher purchased the Iron Horse Music Hall in downtownNorthampton, MA, in order to insure its place in the community, and, shortly thereafter he also purchased and renovated the historic Calvin Theater (built in 1924) and Pearl Street Nightclub.  As steward of these three venues, Suher has kept this small New England college town on the map for the live blues circuit.  The walls of the 170-seat Iron Horse have many stories to tell, bearing witness to performances by a who’s who of the blues, including veterans such as Willie Dixon, Honeyboy Edwards, Johnny Winter, Koko Taylor,Hubert Sumlin, Mose Allison, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds as well as newer names on the scene such as Shemekia Copeland,Albert Cummings and Samantha Fish. When the Horse can’t hold ’em, the 1,300-seat Calvin Theater has accommodated larger crowds for legends like B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Keb’ Mo’, Warren Haynes, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jonny Lang, andRobert Cray. But nothing beats great live blues music up close and personal at the Iron Horse.

Sharon McConnell-Dickerson’s Life Masks of legendary blues musicians is a stunning collection that celebrates the trailblazers of the music. The 59 Blues Legends Life Masks capture every facial nuance and detail. Legends like Othar Turner, Sam Carr, Dorothy Moore, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Little Milton, R.L. Burnside, James Cotton, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Taj Mahal, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Henry Townsend, Charlie Musselwhite, Bobby Rush, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Koko Taylor, and Odetta are some of the masks McConnell has lovingly created. This was all accomplished as Sharon was losing her sight. Since 2005, McConnell-Dickerson has shared her exhibit with galleries and blues festivals around the world, including the National Civil Rights Museum and the Blues Music Awards both in 2009, and a large part of her collection will be on display at the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame beginning in December of 2015.

The Central Iowa Blues Society was founded in October 1992 and has been affiliated with the Blues Foundation since 1993. During the course of its existence, the society has weathered many storms, including crises of finances, membership and leadership, and had witnessed countless partnerships, programs, venues, blues acts and members come and gone, but, standing the test of time, CIBS has remained committed to the same purposes and goals under which it was formed. Its programs include the Winter Blues Fest, which began in 1994 by bringing national and local musicians together at various indoor venues during the winter months, and the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame, which has inducted 59 deserving blues artists and industry supporters with Iowa ties since 1999. The Iowa Blues Challenge began in 1994, has been produced in cooperation with other Iowa Blues Societies since 1997, and was such a successful model that in 1999, the Blues Foundation adopted much of Iowa’s challenge format to become the International Blues Challenge.  Throughout its history, CIBS is very proud of its many partnerships with area charitable and community groups helping support worthy causes while spreading the news about the Blues.

Though he’s a world class photographer and writer, Fred Delforge is best known for developing his website, www.zicazic.com, 15 years ago as a portal to promote all forms of blues and other styles to his European audience. His site includes new reviews of over 750 CDs and over 400 live reports every year from volunteers around the world who attend festivals, the IBCs, BMAs, European Blues Challenge, and who report daily activity. From a modest 1,000 visitors a month when the site began, it grew to 30,000 four years later and then to 100,000 at its best. Then seven years ago he created a new team for Zicazic now with 15 persons, photographers, writers, and web engineers. In addition to writer and photographer for his site, Fred is also a four-year member of the European Blues Union Board of Directors. In 2011, Fred, with 14 persons, co-founded France Blues and with the Zicazic Team he tried to create a website as efficient as possible for this new association. After only one year, the site boasted over 20,000 visitors a month. After 4 years, it reached 65,000 a month.

Todd Glazer is not only the leader in blues music radio promotion — essentially publicizing new releases for radio airplay and exposure — he was the first in the business. Todd started promoting blues albums to radio more than 20 years ago, setting the bar for everyone who has followed. His radio campaigns include work for the Grammy-nominated music of Buddy Guy, Gregg Allman,Warren Haynes, Ruthie Foster, and others to Blues Music Award winners like Janiva Magness, John Nemeth, Ronnie Earl, Johnny Rawls, and many, many more. Todd has worked for labels like Stony Plain (14 years) and he handles individual artists with a limited budget. Ask blues musicians who promote their music to radio programmers and you will hear Todd Glazer’s name over and over. In addition to making sure his clients get the proper airplay and exposure through his work with Todd Glazer Promotions, he was also the 14-year host of “The Twilight Show,” a popular blues radio show in Anchorage, Alaska. Todd has also worked pro bono to promote the online pay per view “Raise The Roof” fundraising campaign and helped promote the Blue Star Connection’s concert at Knuckleheads and charity CD release

The Cahors Blues Festival, founded in 1982, is the oldest blues festival in France. The founder is Gerard Tertre, who passed away in 2002. Known throughout Europe, this July festival has attracted several thousand people to each of its evening main stage concerts. It has revealed to the public many artists little known or unknown thanks to its talent competition, and pursues its quest for cultural promotion and development of Delta Blues and Blues music in general. In 2006, Robert Mauries joined the festival and became President & CEO and continued with Tertre’s vision. Now, more than 20,000 people join the festival each year. Its dozen free afternoon concerts and those on the café terrasses give Cahors the look of a town in the Mississippi Delta. The main stage concerts welcome the most talented Delta bluesmen and Memphis artists. In 2014, Cahors was granted a Mississippi Trail Marker, the second in Europe. Johnny Winter’s last performance was on Cahors Blues Stage in 2014 and Robert set up a street of Cahors named forJohnny Winter in July 2015 to commemorate his memory. In February 2015, the European Blues Union recognized Robert Mauriesfor the Cahors Blues Festival with the Behind The Stage European Award.

Yellow Dog Records was founded in 2002 in Memphis, TN by Michael Powers with the goal of cultivating the American musical heritage. Named after the famous Delta train that W.C. Handy was waiting for in Tutwiler when he first heard the blues in 1903, the label features artists who emphasize innovative approaches to authentic American musical roots traditions — blues, jazz, soul, and Americana styles. By providing support for recording, production, promotion, and distribution, Yellow Dog Records brings this vital music to new and wider audiences. Artists like Eden Brent, Colin Linden, The Soul of John Black, Cassie Taylor, Fiona Boyes, Mary Flower, and others make up the label’s extensive catalogue, nominated for over thirty Blues Music Awards. Current releases include The Claudettes and The Ragpicker String Band with Mary Flower, Rich DelGrosso, and Martin Grosswendt.

Erik Lindahl was born in 1952 and lives in Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg. He is a photographer and has focused on blues musicians and their environments since the early 1970s. Erik has documented the blues in Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, St. Louis,Jackson, Clarksdale, Holly Springs, Memphis, Los Angeles and clubs on Chicago’s West Side and South Side. Erik likes the atmosphere of black and white to catch both the musicians and also the clubs and patrons where they perform. The world’s oldest blues magazine, “Jefferson” (founded in 1968), has featured Erik’s photos through the years. In 2008 Erik published the critically acclaimed photography book Blue Shots. It consists of 100 pictures of blues musicians, captured on both stage and at work, as well as in their everyday lives with friends and together at home with their families. The book is more than just portraits of artists; it also captures who they are and their audience.

KZUM, the oldest independent, noncommercial, listener-sponsored radio station in Nebraska, has been bringing the blues to Lincolnsince 1978. The air staff consists of around 90 volunteer programmers who work hard to bring great shows to the airwaves every week. There is a variety of popular programming on KZUM, but blues content is perhaps most closely associated with the station. KZUM has consistently put the blues at the forefront of its diverse schedule, having long dedicated afternoon drive time programming to the blues. Each week includes 28 hours of blues programming along with many more hours of roots music programs that include a healthy dose of the blues. The station’s commitment to the genre extends beyond the airwaves, as KZUM has served for many years as the non-profit partner for “ZooFest,” the Zoo Bar’s annual multi-day outdoor blues festival in the streets of downtown Lincoln, and has worked for the last two years to host a free community concert series in a local park. As the region’s only outlet for regularly aired blues and roots music, KZUM continues to work hard to preserve and develop the fertile music scene in southeast Nebraska.

Scott Cvelbar is an eighth grade U.S. History teacher who has been establishing a blues culture in his community through The Blues Project, a “Blues In The Schools” program at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Valparaiso, Indiana. The Blues Project is a six-week education program that employs music instruction, history, and public performance. At the end of the program, students showcase their skills at a community-wide concert, performing alongside their peers, community members, and professional musicians.  Since 2007, over 1,000 students from ages nine to 18 have passed through the project, learning about the music, personalities, geography, and cultural significance of the blues. Because there is no blues club within a 40-mile radius, Scott’s Blues Project is the heartbeat for blues culture in Northwest Indiana.

Darwin’s Burgers is not big and it is not glitzy. It’s a little old house bursting with good food and fantastic blues music. Founded in 1995, it was the home of the blues in Atlanta. After an economic stumble in the early years of the 21st century, Lindsay Wine andJonathon Akin purchased the venue in 2011, invested time and money, and brought the club back to its original juke joint popularity. Today, Darwin’s hosts the best local bands and the best touring acts coming through Atlanta, and solo/duo winner at the 2013 International Blues Challenge, Little G Weevil, plays monthly. The blues jams during the week attract the best local musicians and allow new players to be heard. Because of the mix of young musicians and older established groups, the club attracts all ages. Thanks to the determination and dedication of one young couple, their friends and staff, and a lot of people who love Darwin’s, the place looks set to continue to keep the blues alive in Metro Atlanta for many years to come!

Alan Govenar is an award-winning writer, folklorist, photographer, and filmmaker. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and is president of Documentary Arts, a non-profit organization he founded in 1985 to present new perspectives on historical issues and diverse cultures. Govenar received a B.A. from Ohio State University, a M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas. He is the author of twenty-seven books, including Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound (ARSC Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research) Deep Ellum: The Other Side of Dallas (co-authored with Jay Brakefield), Stompin’ at the Savoy, The Early Years of Rhythm and Blues, Lightnin’ Hopkins: His Life and Blues (ARSC Award for Best History in Music) andOsceola: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Daughter (First Place, New York Book Festival for Children’s Non-Fiction). Govenar’s feature-length documentaries, The Beat Hotel, Master Qi and the Monkey King, and You Don’t Need Feet To Dance are distributed by First Run Features. The off-Broadway premiere of Govenar’s new musical Texas in Paris garnered rave reviews in The New York Timesand The Huffington Post, and was nominated for a Lortel award and four Audelco awards.

For the past 14 plus years, Greg “Slim Lively” Johnson has been the president of the Cascade Blues Association, one of the oldest (founded in 1986) and largest affiliated blues societies. He’s also the principal writer and staff photographer of the society’s newsletter and the co-author of the book Blues on Beale Street: Memoirs of the International Blues Challenge. He lives in Portland and helps touring artists who come through the Pacific Northwest find venues within the region while often assisting with housing and equipment needs. He has booked such acts as Hubert Sumlin, Paul Oscher, Phillip Walker, Robert Lockwood, Jr. plus many past IBC participants. He is always willing to offer fundraising assistance within his region, as well. But that’s not all. Greg has been an IBC volunteer since 2003 and in recent years has been Joe Whitmer’s right hand man at both the IBC and BMA. He currently manages the Club 152 stage at the IBC, and he’s the back-stage manager for the Blues Music Awards where he works from before the show begins until the show is long over.

For more information, contact: Barbara B. Newman, President & CEO, The Blues Foundation, 421 South Main, Memphis, TN, 38103-4464; 901.527.2583; barbara@blues.org




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