Tuesday, February 8, 2000

The2000 Maple Blues Awards

It was a gala event for the Canadian Blues community, produced by the Toronto Blues Society and there I was - not on the stage or on the podium - but behind the scenes, as usual. I've gotten to know many of the leading blues musicians in town, and was thrilled to see them receive their "props". Many of them knew me only as the editor of the MapleBlues magazine and didn't even realize I played until I released a CD last May. I guess I do need to work on my profile but when it comes to music I barely have time to get the guitar out of the case, let alone hustle gigs. Last Saturday was my first and (so far) last gig of the decade. But I'm not discouraged because I have my trusty copy of "Be Your Own Booking Agent and Save Thousands of Dollars." I'm reminded of an old blues axiom "There's hundreds of dollars to be made in this business."
Back to the awards evening, there were some great moments and the host Mike Bullard, had fun with the sponsor, Bell ActiMedia. "You guys can change your name all you want - we still know you're a monopoly" and "Your call display has ruined my Saturday Nights." I just found out he worked for Bell for many years. One of the highlights of my evening was having a dance with Louise Pickett, even though I was bouncing around on a broken toe...but that's another story. Her husband, Michael Pickett was honoured with the Blues with a Feeling award as well as Harmonica Player of the year. Pickett is the personification of "cool" (blues style). Last month I was playing the Winchester and just as we were starting the second show, I look down and see him standing just off to the side of the stage. I don't know if that might have made me little nervous but once we had launched into the first tune, I realized I had blanked out on the first verse. I played a guitar solo then it came around and I played another solo (and these were not very "focused" solos because I was just trying to remember the damn first line). Still stuck, I signalled Papa John King at the other end of the stage to play a solo and he looked at me like "Haven't there been enough guitar solos alrteady???" but he played one or two choruses until I finally started singing, and it wasn't even the right verse! As we started into the second tune, I saw him making his way out the side door. I hope he's not one of those harp players who hate too many guitar solos.
There were lots of other deserving recepients of Maple Blues Awards. Imagine that someone of the stature of Jack DeKeyzer had never received an award until now (he got Recording of the Year)! Morgan Davis, Michael Pickett, Alec Fraser, Gary Kendall all pillars of the blues community got their props.
For the first time, the awards were webcast around the world and they are archived at This was a first rate production with two cameras - if you want to see the state-of-the-art in webcasting, check it out, but you'll need a fast computer, RealAudio G2 and (ideally) a high-speed internet connection.