Blues Access Summer 2001
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22nd Annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards

B.B. King was named Blues Entertainer of the Year and his Riding With the King CD with Eric Clapton was selected as best Contemporary Blues Album at the 22nd Annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards in Memphis May 24th.

Etta James was honored as Soul Female Artist of the Year and inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame along with Rufus Thomas. Shemekia Copeland was given a Handy as Best Contemporary Female Artist, and her Wicked CD was named Blues Album of the Year.

Other Handy Award winners were Eddy Clearwater, Contemporary Male Artist; Little Milton, Soul Male Artist of the Year; James Cotton, Traditional Male Artist; Koko Taylor, Traditional Female Artist; Taj Mahal & the Phantom Blues Band, Blues Band of the Year; and Keb’ Mo’, Acoustic Blues Artist.

In the album category, Robert Lockwood, Jr., was awarded Acoustic Blues Album of the Year for Delta Crossroads; Son Seals won Best Traditional Blues Album for Letting Go; Historical Album of the Year was Otis Spann, Last Call; Irma Thomas’ My Heart’s in Memphis was Soul Blues Album of the Year; Mel Brown won the Comeback Blues Album award for Neck Bones & Caviar; and the Best New Artist Debut Album was Shake Hands With Shorty by the North Mississippi Allstars.

In the Blues Instrumentalist balloting, winners were Pinetop Perkins (keyboards); Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, (fiddle); Duke Robillard (guitar); Charlie Musselwhite (harmonica); Willie Kent (bass); Chris Layton (drums); and the Roomful Of Blues Horns (horns).

Chicago Renames Street to Honor Blues Legend Jimmy Rogers

A small gathering of friends, companions, business associates and family members came together near a street corner on Chicago’s South Side February 11th to honor the late Jimmy Rogers by permanently renaming the 12-block stretch of Honore Avenue between 55th and 67th Streets as Honorary Jimmy Rogers Street.

Jimmy Rogers, born James A. Lane in Ruleville, Mississippi, in 1924, partnered as second guitarist with Muddy Waters in the late ’40s and was a member of the original Muddy Waters band that reshaped the sound of American music for the rest of the century. Only Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers have had a Chicago street named after them.

Rogers began cutting tunes of his own at the band’s sessions for Chess Records in 1950 and became a popular blues recording artist in his own right with a series of Chess singles that included modern-day classics like "I Don’t Know," "Ludella," "Walking by Myself" and many others.

He continued performing and recording into the ’90s before his death in 1997 at the end of a long and remarkably productive musical life.

One Dead, Bobby Rush Band Members Injured in Tour Bus Accident

Bobby Rush band member Latisha Brown was killed and Rush and his musicians were hospitalized with serious injuries when Rush’s tour bus crashed in a one-car accident en route to Pensacola, Florida, in the early morning hours of April 19th.

The official cause of the accident was not determined, but it is thought that the bus driver sustained a heart attack that caused him to lose control of the vehicle and strike a tree.

Bobby Rush was kept overnight in a Florida hospital with head and neck injuries, and virtually every other band member incurred injuries. None was life-threatening, but several musicians suffered major broken bones and some required serious surgery.

By early May, Rush had resumed his touring schedule, using other musicians while waiting for his band members to mend.

Updates on the band’s health status are being posted by the Blues Foundation at and on

Bobby and his family are extremely grateful for the support they have received from the fans and the blues community.

Due to the severity of the accident, many band members will be in the hospital for an extended period. Others will need additional surgery and physical therapy. Many of the band members have little or no health coverage. Additional funds will be needed to help care for Latisha Brown’s children ages six, four and two.

Blues Aid has established the Bobby Rush Band Fund in order to help cover the overwhelming costs of the horrific accident. If you would like to or help with a fund raising effort contact: Beverly Tatum — Phone: (404) 373-8803, fax: (404) 373-3414.

If you would like to make a contribution please make your check payable to the Blues Aid/Bobby Rush Band Fund and send them to: Blues Aid, Box 237 Helena, AR 72342.

Blues Aid was created by the Sonny Boy Blues Society to help blues artists cope with healthcare, pharmaceutical, and memorial expenses. The Sonny Boy Blues Society is a 501c(3) non-profit corporation

— The Blues Foundation

Blues Hall of Fame Names 2001 Inductees

The Blues Foundation announced its 2001 Blues Hall of Fame inductees at the 22nd Annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards in Memphis May 24th. Among those honored were:

Muddy Waters for The Complete Plantation Recordings (Chess/MCA)

Big Joe Turner for "Shake Rattle and Roll" (Atlantic, 1954)

Etta James, Junior Parker and Rufus Thomas as Individual Performers Theresa Needham (Theresa’s club in Chicago) and writer Robert Palmer as Non-Performers

Helen Dance’s book Stormy Monday: The T-Bone Walker Story (Da Capo) as a Classic of Blues Literature.

Blind Boy Fuller Historical Marker Project Underway

Most local residents have never heard of Grove Hill Cemetery at 2919 Fayetteville Street in Durham, North Carolina. Charles H. and Bessie E. McLaurin bought the property from O.K. Ferrell in 1933 and began burials in April of that year.

Today, the property contains private businesses and the Fayetteville Street Elementary School. Besides the periwinkle and a lone gravestone hidden beneath the trees, there is little indication a cemetery once occupied the land. There is even less indication that North Carolina’s most famous Piedmont bluesman, Blind Boy Fuller, was buried there in 1941. But this is about to change through the efforts of blues fans from all over the world.

The campaign to gain recognition for Fulton Allen, aka. Blind Boy Fuller, began in February 2000 with the founding of the Blind Boy Fuller Historical Marker Project. The project aims to secure both state and city historical markers to cite the Allen’s importance in the musical heritage of North Carolina. Letters of support were received from all over the world from fans and historians alike, and by December 2000 both the state and city markers were approved. Installation of the markers is expected to take place this summer.

The city marker, dedicated to Blind Boy Fuller, will be placed on the section of the American Tobacco Trail which runs behind Grove Hill Cemetery. The state marker, honoring both Fuller and Rev. Gary Davis, will be erected at the junction of Fayetteville and Simmons Streets in Durham.

For more information, visit the Blind Boy Fuller Historical Marker Project website at:

— Gaile Welker

Robert Johnson Honored in San Antonio

The San Antonio Blues Society and the Sheraton Gunter Hotel (205 East Houston Street, San Antonio) have joined forces to place a memorial marker in the hotel lobby commemorating legendary bluesman Robert Johnson. The projected date for the marker dedication is November 24, 2001, to coincide with the anniversary of Johnson’s recordings here.

Johnson, who died at the age of 27 in 1938, recorded only twice, a total of 29 songs. His first recordings, and the largest body of his recorded work, took place at the Gunter Hotel from November 23–27, 1936. Songs included in those sessions were "Terraplane Blues", "Cross Road Blues", "Sweet Home Chicago", and "I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom". Johnson’s influence is cited as primary in the musical careers of numerous artists, and he is said to have changed the course of American music. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

In a letter to the San Antonio Blues Society, John Gallegos, General Manager at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel wrote, "We recognize the historical significance of the sessions, and gladly join the San Antonio Blues Society in commemorating Robert Johnson’s contributions to the recordings and to the blues."

Patton, Waters, Hooker, Staples Inducted

On March 31, Mississippi Delta blues pioneer Charley Patton was inducted into the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame along with John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Pops Staples. Great-granddaughter Kechia Brown, pictured with her grandmother, Rosetta Patton Brown, Patton’s 84-year-old daughter, accepted the award at the ceremony in Jackson, Mississippi. Although the influential Patton roamed throughout the Delta performing on plantations and in clubs and jukes, he frequently visited his daughter. In 1998, Squirrel Nut Zipper founder Jim Mathus recorded and album in Clarksdale with Rooster Records — Songs for Rosetta — as a benefit for Ms. Brown.

— Panny Mayfield


©2001 Blues Access, Boulder, Colorado, USA