The Toronto Blues Society held its 12th annual Maple Blues Awards on Monday night, January 19th, 2009, the event honoring excellence among Canadian blues artists. The late Jeff Healey was nominated for awards in three categories, and it should come as no surprise that the talented blues guitarist walked off with all three, including the coveted "Entertainer of the Year" honors.
Healey, who tragically passed away in March 2008 at the age of 41 from cancer, was recognized with the "Electric Act of the Year" award and was also honored as the society's "Guitarist of the Year."
Jeff Healey's Mess Of Blues
Healey used the house band from his Jeff Healey's Roadhouse club in Toronto to record Mess Of Blues, and all four band members received nominations in their respective instrument categories. Dave Murphy was named "Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year," Alec Fraser won "Bassist of the Year," and Al Webster was named "Drummer of the Year" from Healey's band.
Other Maple Blues Award Winners
Multi-instrumentalist Harry Manx, known best for his stunning lap steel guitar play, was honored as the "Acoustic Act of the Year" by the Toronto Blues Society. John Mays of the veteran Canadian blues-and-roots-rock band Fathead was named "Male Vocalist of the Year," while Suzie Vinnick was recognized as the "Female Vocalist of the Year."
In the other instrumental categories, Monkey Junk's Steve Marriner was named "Harmonica Player of the Year" and Pat Carey of the band Downchild was named "Horn Player of the Year." Daddy Long Legs was recognized as the "New Artist/Group of the Year." Critically-acclaimed blues artist Paul Reddick won the "Songwriter of the Year" award from the society.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
The venerable Taj Mahal was honored with the "B.B. King International Artist of the Year" award while respected guitarist Amos Garrett was given the "Blues With A Feeling" lifetime achievement award.
Music writer Rob Bowman, Professor of Ethnomusicology at York University in Toronto and author of Soulsville, U.S.A. - The Story of Stax Records, was chosen as the "Blues Booster of the Year" for his support of the Canadian blues scene.
The Toronto Blues Society
The Toronto Blues Society was formed in 1985 by Derek Andrews, David Barnard and John Valenteyn to help keep blues music alive in the city. Aside from the annual Maple Blues Awards, the Toronto Blues Society also sponsors The Blues Summit, a bi-annual gathering of blues artists and promoters from across Canada, holds various workshops, and publishes Maple Blues, a monthly music magazine.
You can find out more about the organization on the Toronto Blues Society website.