MAPLE BLUES AWARDS PERFORMERS
The usual blues alchemy doesn’t often include being born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, or singing for four years with one of the hottest Detroit soul bands. And it certainly doesn’t include a long career working as a supervisor in a chemical plant. Clearly, Harrison Kennedy didn’t follow any traditional formula in becoming a bluesman. For the past decade, his recordings have earned Harrison Kennedy many accolades in the business. No less than B.B. King has hailed him as Canada’s premier blues performer.
Singing and playing the mandolin, the banjo, the guitar and the harmonica in a mostly acoustic setting, his strong poetic writing and full sense of irony largely contribute to the growing success of this very special blues troubadour.
As one of Canada’s hardest working and most prolific blues guitar virtuosos, David Gogo has amassed a worldwide fanbase and an impressive list of accomplishments. He has earned four JUNO nominations, the 2012 Western Canadian Music Award for Blues Recording of the Year, the CBC Saturday Night Blues’ Great Canadian Blues Award for a lifetime contribution to the blues in Canada, and has twice been named Maple Blues Guitarist of the Year.
David has played on stage with Johnny Winter, Otis Rush, Albert Collins and Bo Diddley and has opened for George Thorogood, ZZ Top, The Tragicially Hip, Buddy Guy, Little Feat and Jimmy Vaughan. In March 2013, he performed as the supporting act for blues legend B.B. King for the third time in his career, this time at the Port Theatre in Gogo’s hometown of Nanaimo, BC.
Considered one of Canada’s most electrifying and versatile guitarists, Montreal-based guitarist/singer-songwriter Cécile Doo-Kingué blends blues, her Cameroonian roots and soul to create a unique sound that has blossomed over three albums, garnering a long trail of critical acclaim and awards. She has shared a stage and/or recorded with Montreal Jubilation Choir, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bernard Purdie, Michael Jerome Brown, Tricia Foster, Scarlett Jane, United Steel Workers of Montreal, amongst many, and has opened for many icons including Canned Heat, Eric Andersen, Angélique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour and Manu Dibango.
In February 2015, Doo-Kingué released her third solo album Anybody Listening Pt. 1: Monologues, the first chapter of a trilogy exploring blues, roots and life in their myriad of aspects (Monologues solo acoustic, Dialogues full band, Communion live).
Colin Linden is a genuine renaissance man of roots music. He’s a member of the highly successful trio, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, a singer and songwriter, an in-demand and prolific record producer, musical director on the hit TV show Nashville and sideman to the stars as guitarist for the likes of Bob Dylan, Bruce Cockburn, Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.
Many artists have their specialties – some cut great records but need support to realize their studio sounds in a live setting while others are born performers who never quite translate to records as well as they do live. Rarely do you find an artist who excels at both. John Campbelljohn does. In each of his many forms.
In his solo, acoustic blues performances he makes the most of the song. Campbelljohn soulfully commands the stage with rich vocals, while his powerfully prolific technique on guitar or trusty dobro lap steel further embellishes each composition. His power trio ups the ante with an electric sound that can pummel an audience into submission or captivate them with the subtleties of ace musicians driven solely by the love of their craft.
Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar
Bubbling up from the cauldron of roots Americana music, Samantha Martin is an artist of extraordinary power, gravitas and deep-seated emotion. On first listen, one is immediately struck by the awesome presence and sheer magnitude of her other worldly voice. Cigarette-ravaged and whiskey-soaked in the extreme, Martin’s pipes are capable of conveying an infinite range of emotions, bringing one to tears in one instance and in the next uplifting one’s soul with an empowered declaration of hope, faith and desire.
After Party Nominee Jam Host: Big Dave McLean
A masterful guitarist and top notch harpist, McLean’s raw and gravelly vocals bespeak of a life lived to the fullest, and a career spent performing in and around those countless small towns that dot the Canadian prairies. When it comes to the blues, however, McLean’s heart firmly beats to the ghosts of the delta greats–especially the incomparable Muddy Waters, with whom he toured over two decades ago. Just how important the Mojo Man was to the development of Big Dave can be gleaned in an 11-minute tribute, aptly titled ‘Muddy Waters for President’. Actually written for the dean of Chicago bluesmen, Muddy died before getting around to recording it.