Your Complete Guide to the Chicago Blues Scene

radio shows
record labels

Live Shows

Windy City Blues ad

LIVE REVIEW -- Blues Blast  Music Awards 2010

Blues Blast Music Awards 2010

October 28, 2010

Buddy Guy’s Legends

Chicago, IL

Mississippi Heat at Blues Blast 2010
Mississippi Heat / photo: Lordy
L to R: Pierre Lacocque, Giles Corey, Inetta Visor

By Linda Cain

As the Blues Blast Music Awards enters its third year, the event clearly has established itself as a beacon for drawing blues musicians, fans and industry leaders from all over the country to Chicago’s Buddy Guy’s Legends to celebrate, network, reunite and most of all, enjoy the nonstop lineup of live music by the genre’s cream of the crop.

 At this year’s ceremony, fans were treated to sizzling sets by: Jackie Scott & The Housewreckers with guest Eddie Shaw on sax; Candye Kane with guitarist Laura Chavez and Bob Corritore on harp; Zora Young with Matt Skoller on harp, Dave Riley & Bob Corritore, Shaun Murphy Band, Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Quintus McCormick, Cash Box Kings with guitarist Joel Paterson and Kenny Smith on drums and Mississippi Heat.

The evening ended with a post-midnight jam session led by blues harp hero Billy Branch, who was joined by Kate Moss on bass, guitarist Nate Kieser (son of Blues Blast’s Bob Kieser), Kilborn Alley drummer Ed O’Hara and sax man Dave Fauble.

Blues DJ and music writer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker served as the master of ceremonies and did an admirable job of keeping things on course, giving informative and/or humorous introductions to each act, and entertaining the troops.

Shemekia, Bob Kieser, Amy Brat
Shemekia Copeland, Bob Kieser, Amy Brat / photo: Lordy


The 2010 Blues Blast Music Award winners are:

Best Contemporary Blues Recording - Nick Moss - Privileged

Best Traditional Blues Recording - Mississippi Heat - Let's Live It Up

Best Blues Song - The Kilborn Alley Blues Band - "Better Off Now"

Best Blues Band - Tommy Castro Band

Best Male Blues Artist - Magic Slim

Best Female Blues Artist - Shemekia Copeland

Best New Artist Debut Recording - Jackie Scott & The Housewreckers - How Much Woman Can You Stand?

Sean Costello Rising Star Award - The Cash Box Kings

2010 Lifetime Achievement Award - Otis Rush

Congratulations to all the winners!


The story behind the Blues Blast Music Awards

The awards ceremony sprang from Blues Blast Magazine (originally titled, an online website and free weekly newsletter started in 2007 by Bob Kieser, an avid blues fan and photographer from Pekin, Illinois. Through his travels to Blues Festivals and events all over the country, Kieser established an impressive subscriber list of 17,000 blues fans from all over the world.

In 2008, he first asked blues DJs, music writers, musicians, festival promoters and other industry professionals to nominate their favorite artists in a variety of categories; a ballot was created from those choices and then emailed to Blues Blast subscribers, who then voted on the Blues website by the thousands for their favorites to win. Nominated blues artists, no doubt, made good use of internet networking to tap into their own fan bases to bring in the vote. Sponsor WGLT radio, provided an online listening post for fans to listen to the nominated artists before they voted. For this year’s awards, 3,500 votes were cast. Anyone could vote; there were no membership fees or costs involved.

With only a shoestring budget and a small group of volunteers, Kieser was able to produce the annual awards ceremony, with money from his own pocket and a bit of financial help from sponsors, three years in a row. The first two ceremonies, in 2008 and 2009, packed them in at Buddy Guy’s original Legends club. Legends and its new, spacious, two-level nightclub served as a major attraction to draw fans and musicians to this year’s Blues Blast Music Awards. With Legends’ state-of-the art audio facilities, WGLT radio, an NPR affiliate on the ISU campus in Normal, IL, was able to broadcast the event live on the internet at

Jackie Scott & Eddie Shaw
Jackie Scott & Eddie Shaw / photo: Constance Kenny

Virginia’s Jackie Scott & the Housewreckers kicked off the festivities with gusto and showed the patrons why they were nominated for three Blues Blast Awards, as fans cheered her powerful, emotional performance. Famed Howlin’ Wolf sax man Eddie Shaw pumped up the audience with his powerful, rhythmic solos. Jackie and band took home the Best New Artist Debut Recording award for their CD How Much Woman Can You Stand? The soulful, captivating songstress, who grew up singing in church, hails from the East Coast but calls Chicago her second home these days and has been working with Nellie “Tiger” Travis and Eddie Shaw.

Candye Kane
Candye Kane / photo: Constance Kenny

The flamboyant Candye Kane, resplendent in feathers and sequins, was backed by a stellar band: Kilborn Alley’s rhythm section, drummer Ed O’Hara and bassist Chris Breen, along with harp ace Bob Corritore and Candye’s own guitarist, the remarkable Laura Chavez, whose inventive and creative swing style playing wowed the crowd. Candye titillated the fans with her sexy repertoire of clever original songs, “You Need A Great Big Woman” and “I’m A Bad, Bad Girl” plus a uniquely feminine version of Willie Dixon’s “Whole Lotta Love.” The Mae West of the blues quipped: “I didn’t sleep with anybody, but I got a Blues Blast nomination,” regarding her well-deserved nominee status for Best Female Blues Artist. 

Zora Young
Zora Young / photo: Constance Kenny

Chicago’s own Zora Young, also a deserving Best Female Blues Artist nominee, was assisted by a talented crew: Matt Skoller on harp, Kenny “Beedy” Eyes Smith on drums and Kilborn Alley’s red-capped guitarist Josh Stimmel.  Glamorous Zora, who sported even more sequins than Ms. Kane, belted traditional blues numbers from her critically acclaimed CDs: The French Connection on Delmark and Sunnyland on Airway.

Bob Corritore & Dave Riley
Bob Corritore & Dave Riley / photo: Lordy

The dynamic duo of Dave Riley & Bob Corritore, who were nominated for an award in 2008 and performed an acoustic Delta blues set at the debut Blues Blast ceremony, returned  again as nominees for Best Traditional Blues Recording for their Lucky To Be Living CD, a tribute to Riley’s late bandmate in the Jelly Roll Kings, Frank Frost. Indeed, Riley is lucky to be living, as emcee Walker went down the laundry list of near death experiences Riley has survived. Backed by bass and drums, with Riley playing fiery notes on electric guitar, the duo turned in an intense, gritty performance, with the former prison guard, Riley, almost growling the anguished lyrics as Corritore’s tasteful, emotive harp playing seemed to soothe his partner’s soul.

Shaun Murphy
Shaun Murphy / photo: Lordy

Veteran blues and rock backup singer Shaun Murphy has finally stepped out as a solo artist with her CD, Livin’ The Blues, nominated for Best New Artist Debut Recording. The woman whose knockout pipes have enhanced the music of Eric Clapton and Little Feat on massive concert stages worldwide, seemed especially inspired to have the spotlight to herself in an intimate Chicago blues club. Shaun showed she is a top-notch professional and a true song stylist who knows how to squeeze every ounce of emotion and drama from classic blues numbers like “Steppin’ Out,” “Come To Mama,” and “Feels Like Rain,” which brought the house down and earned her a standing ovation.

Kilborn Alley
Kilborn Alley's Joe Asselin & Josh Stimmel / photo: Lordy

Kilborn Alley took the stage with a vengeance and got the crowd revved up from the first note as harp player Joe Asselin displayed his unbelievable lung power on “Train To Memphis”. Josh Stimmel tested the strength of his Gibson’s strings with his mighty note bending on some down-home licks on “Foolsville.”  Andrew Duncanson’s commanding, soulful vocals, which alternated between the styles of Howlin’ Wolf and Otis Redding, thundered across the room. His show-stopping performance on “Better Off Now” elicited whoo’s and yeah’s from the fans and even had the wait staff stopped in their tracks. That number earned the quintet the award for Best Blues Song, the title track from the band’s CD on Blue Bella.

Quintus McCormick
Quintus McCormick / photo: Linda Cain

Seasoned Chicago blues man Quintus McCormick has toured the world with stars like James Cotton, Otis Clay and A.C. Reed and has been a bandleader in Chicago’s clubs for decades. At last, the talented singer/songwriter/guitarist debuted his own CD, Hey, Jodie, on Delmark which earned him a nomination for Best New Artist Recording Debut.  Quintus went all out for his set, playing frenzied, energetic versions of two songs from the CD “What Goes Around Comes Around” and “I’m A Good Man, Baby” that featured his high octane guitar playing.  On the former song, the guitar hero jumped into the crowd, working the room while playing a long, heartfelt, extended solo on his Delta King, that combined intricate note patterns with string bending and power chords, along with nearly every technique and style known to bluesdom. (Now who do we know who does that every January at Legends?).

Cash Box Kings
Cash Box Kings / photo: Linda Cain


The Sean Costello Rising Star Award went to The Cash Box Kings, who proved themselves worthy by putting on an outstanding performance that earned them plenty of new fans. The CBKs play ensemble style blues that respects the traditions of Chicago and Southern styles, without sounding overly retro, while putting its own fresh spin on classic sounds. The quintet is comprised of kindred spirits who fit together like red beans and rice: Jimmy Sutton on standup bass, drummer Kenny “Beedy Eyes Smith,” Joe Nosek on harp and vocals, guitarist Joel Paterson and singer Oscar Wilson.  The Kings put forth high energy from the get-go, with harp man Nosek pogo-hopping on stage to the brilliant rhythm section’s beat.  Paterson’s tasty guitar work sounded like no one else; his distinctive style and sensitive touch on the slide guitar had fans squealing for more. Oscar Wilson served as the perfect front man with a husky voice well-suited to cover Muddy Waters’ “Country Boy.”

Blues Blast jam
Billy Branch's jam / photo: Lordy

As the clock struck midnight, Chicago Blues Guide headed out, but the Blues Blast party continued into the wee hours with sets by Mississippi Heat (who won Best Traditional Blues Recording) and Billy Branch’s jam session. For the third straight year, blues lovers from all over -- Seattle, Arizona, California, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, just to name a few – came together as a community to partake in a new tradition that will hopefully become a classic blues institution in the years to come.


Specter-Wydra ad
Dave Specter & Mark Wydra
Nov. 24 at
SPACE, Evanston
Simcox CD ad
Rick Simcox & The ToneQuesters
Debut album now at Jazz Record Mart
Hambone Logo
DJ Hambone's

Momo Mama Blue Chicago
Blue Chicago
536 N. Clark
Chicago, IL


rambler.jpg lynnejordan.jpgLynne Jordan