Blues Access Winter 2001
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22nd Handy Awards Nominations Announced
by John Sinclair

The Blues Foundation has announced its nominees for the 22nd Annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards to be presented May 24th at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis and followed by two days of blues music on Beale Street. The festivities will be hosted by Dr. John and will include star-studded blues performances.

Handy nominees for "Entertainer of the Year" include B.B. King, Little Milton, Bobby Rush, Taj Mahal, Shemekia Copeland and Rod Piazza, while "Blues Band of the Year" nominations went to the B.B. King Band, Johnnie Bassett & the Blues Insurgents, Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets with Sam Myers, Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers and Taj Mahal & the Phantom Blues Band.

The competition for "Blues Song of the Year" was narrowed down to Guy Davis, "Waiting on the Cards to Fall" from Butt Naked Free, Jack Johnson, "So Long Frank Frost" from Roots Stew, Karen Leipziger & Richard Fleming, "Winds of Change" from Eddy Clearwater’s Reservation Blues, Bruce Bromberg, James Armstrong & O. Heaney, "Pennies and Picks" from James Armstrong’s Got It Goin’ On, and Richie Vito, "It’s 2:00 A.M." from Shemekia Copeland’s Wicked.

In other categories, Eddy Clearwater, Larry Garner, Roy Gaines, Carl Weathersby and James Armstrong received nominations for "Contemporary Blues: Male Artist of the Year," and Shemekia Copeland, Deborah Coleman, Marcia Ball, Debbie Davies and Susan Tedeschi for "Contemporary Blues: Female Artist of the Year"

Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Mighty Sam McClain, Bobby Rush and the late Johnnie Taylor were nominated for "Soul/Blues: Male Artist of the Year"; Etta James, Irma Thomas, Toni Lynn Washington, Trudy Lynn and E.C. Scott for "Soul/Blues: Female Artist of the Year"; Robert Lockwood, Jr., Snooky Pryor, R.L. Burnside, James Cotton, Magic Slim and Big Jack Johnson for "Traditional Blues: Male Artist of the Year"; Ruth Brown, Alberta Adams, Koko Taylor, Ann Rabson and the late Carol Fran for "Traditional Blues: Female Artist of the Year"; and Cephas & Wiggins, Jerry Ricks, Guy Davis, Keb’ Mo’, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Corey Harris for "Acoustic Blues: Artist of the Year."

Nominated as "Best New Artist Debut" were Willie King (Freedom Creek), Beverly Watkins (Back in Business), Calvin Jackson (Goin’ Down South), North Mississippi Allstars (Shake Hands With Shorty) and Sean Costello (Cuttin’ In), while contestants for best "Comeback Blues Album" are Don Covay (Adlib), Charles Walker (Leavin’ This Old Town), Little Arthur Duncan (Singin’ With the Sun), Mel Brown (Neck Bones & Caviar) and Rosco Gordon (Memphis, Tennessee).

In the album categories, B.B. King and Eric Clapton (Riding with the King), R.L. Burnside (Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down), Eddy Clearwater (Reservation Blues), Shemekia Copeland (Wicked) and Kid Ramos (West Coast House Party) were nominated for "Contemporary Blues Album of the Year"; and Bobby Rush (Hoochie Man), Mighty Sam McClain (Blues for the Soul), Irma Thomas (My Heart Is in Memphis), E. C. Scott (Masterpiece) and Darrell Nulisch (I Like It This Way) for "Soul/Blues Album of the Year."

Nominated for "Traditional Blues Album of the Year" were Magic Slim (Snakebite), Big Jack Johnson (Roots Stew), Snooky Pryor and Mel Brown (Double Shot), Son Seals (Letting Go) and Willie Cobb (Jukin’); Johnson, Seals, Eddy Clearwater, Copeland, and Corey Harris and Henry Butler (Vu Du Menz) for "Blues Album of the Year"; …And This Is Maxwell Street, Robert Nighthawk Live On Maxwell Street, Otis Spann’s Last Call, Tip of the Top by William Clarke and Mo’ Na’kins, Please by James Harman got the nod for "Historical Album of the Year," and Robert Lockwood, Jr. (Delta Crossroads), Corey Harris & Henry Butler (VuDu Menz), Eric Bibb (Home to Me), Guy Davis (Butt Naked Free) and Jerry Ricks (Many Miles of Blues) were nominated for "Acoustic Blues Album of the Year."

Named in honor of W.C. Handy, "Father of the Blues," the awards ceremony traditionally opens the Handy Weekend. Concert. A panel of international blues industry professionals makes the initial nominations, and 30,000 blues fans choose the winners.

For up-to-date information on the Handy Awards® and Handy Weekend, visit  or

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