Colin James was the big winner at the 21st annual Maple Blues Awards in Toronto on Monday night. The Vancouver-based blues-rocker was the only multiple award winner at Koerner Hall, earning trophies in the categories of Electric Act, Recording/Producer, and Guitarist of the Year.
New faces honoured with awards including multiple nominee Hamilton’s Harrison Kennedy for Songwriter of the Year, Ottawa’s Laura Greenberg for Bassist of the Year and Victoria’s Jason Buie for New Artist of the Year.
The Blues With A Feeling Award for lifetime achievement was awarded to Toronto-based Diana Braithwaite for her longtime career and commitment to blues music in Canada, while musicologist, professor, and writer Rob Bowman was presented with the Blues Booster of the Year award honouring his outstanding contribution to the Canadian blues scene.
The fourth annual Cobalt Prize Contemporary Blues Composition Award was also announced at the gala. Joe Nolan was the winner of the $1K cash prize for his song "All You’ve Got To Do, " with runners-up Conor Gains for his song "Walking Alone," and Miss Emily for her composition "Hold Back The River" that came with a cash prize of $250 apiece.
The Awards were hosted by ShoShona Kish of Digging Roots. That group performed, alongside Donald Ray Johnson, Cécile Doo-Kingué, Diana Braithwaite, Matt Andersen (with surprise guest Steve Hill), and Colin James, who closed the show with guest Steve Marriner of MonkeyJunk. All were backed by The Maple Blues Band.
Here is the full list of winners of the 21st Annual Maple Blues Awards
Entertainer of the Year - Paul DesLauriers Band
Electric Act of the Year - Colin James
Acoustic Act of the Year - Big Dave McLean
Male Vocalist of the Year - Matt Andersen
Female Vocalist of the Year - Angel Forrest
New Artist of the Year - Jason Buie
Recording/Producer of the Year - Colin James – Blue Highways (True North); Producers: Colin James & Dave Meszaros
B.B. King International Artist of the Year - Joe Bonamassa
Songwriter of the Year - Harrison Kennedy
Blues with a Feeling Award (Lifetime Achievement Award) - Diana Braithwaite
Guitarist of the Year - Colin James
Harmonica Player of the Year - Guy Bélanger
Piano/Keyboard of the Year - David Vest
Horn Player of the Year - Jon Wong
Drummer of the Year - Matt Sobb (MonkeyJunk)
Bassist of the Year - Laura Greenberg (JW-Jones)
Blues Booster of the Year - Rob Bowman