The biggest night in Canadian blues, the annual Maple Blues Awards returned to Koerner Hall in Toronto on June 20, marking the event's 25th anniversary. The big winner on the night was Steve Marriner, who won four awards including Acoustic Act of the Year (Steve Marriner/David Gogo), Harmonica Player of the Year, Recording of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year. Other multiple award winners were Colin James, who took home awards for Male Vocalist of the Year and Electric Act of the Year, and Sue Foley, who won awards for Guitarist of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year.
Hosted by Ottawa artist Angelique Francis, it featured performances from the MBA house band The Maple Blues Band, and guest performers Bobby Dean Blackburn, Kat Danser, Sue Foley, Angelique Francis, Crystal Shawanda, and Colin Linden.Toronto vocalist Shakura S’Aida was voted in at the prestigious Blues With A Feeling for her long and varied career as a powerhouse performer, actress, and mentor. The evening wrapped up with the popular After Glow party, hosted by Kingston’s Miss Emily and featuring winners past and present jamming on the stage.
FYI''s man on the spot, Bill King, notes that "It’s been a long time coming and judging from the welcoming embrace of a near-capacity audience reserved for nominees, winners and performers, the blues are back in full swing. Angelique Francis set the tone for the celebration. Off with the masks in with the big smiles and community laughter. Francis is one engaging personality who never allowed a transitory lapse into a tour of the past two-plus years of loss and estrangement. Instead, she kept things light, funky, and joyful."
"Aside from the big winners, the night was also about those in spin-off categories. A thankful David Vest, a brilliant pianist, still winning awards at 78. Everybody’s champion on saxophone, and this night a member of the rocking and rumbling house band on baritone saxophone, Alison Young captured Horn Player of the Year. Hamilton’s enthusiastic The Lowdown Dirty Mojos took New Artist/Group of the Year."
"Guitarist Sue Foley ripped the strings like a few others, giving the crowd what they had expected. A tender moment—Bobby Dean Blackburn at 82, on stage and behind the Hammond B-3, where he served so many afternoons at the Zanzibar on Yonge Street."
Here are the 25th Annual Maple Blues Award Winners
Male Vocalist of the Year
Female Vocalist of the Year
Drummer of the Year
Keyboard Player of the Year
New Artist /Group of the Year
The Lowdown Dirty Mojos
Blues Booster of the Year (tied)
Claude Cloutier & Terry Parsons
Acoustic Act of the Year
Steve Marriner/David Gogo
Electric Act of the Year
Harmonica Player of the Year
Horn Player of the Year
Guitarist of the Year
Bassist of the Year
International Artist of the Year
Recording/ Producer of the Year
Steve Marriner - Hope Dies Last (Stony Plain)
Blues With A Feeling Award (Lifetime Achievement Award)
Songwriter of the Year
Entertainer of the Year