Toronto Blues Society | » Fresh Crop of Contenders for 2009 Maple Blues Awards Nominations – Jeff Healey Blues Band Leads the Way

Fresh Crop of Contenders for 2009 Maple Blues Awards Nominations – Jeff Healey Blues Band Leads the Way

Published October 29, 2008 in Press Releases


TORONTO – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28TH, 2008 – Blues fans will be thrilled with the many new faces filling the ballot for this year’s Twelfth Annual Maple Blues Awards, Canada’s national award program that promotes and recognizes outstanding achievement in blues music. Nominees from Atlantic Canada to BC have been announced for 2008 and voting begins online at from November 1st, 2008 at 1:00 am (NFLD) until 11:59 pm (PT) December 6th, 2008. The Gala Awards Ceremony will take place in Toronto at 8:30 pm on Monday, January 19th, 2009.

Although there is a strong showing from all across this blues land of ours, of the sixteen Maple Blues Awards categories, the late guitarist extraordinaire Jeff Healey and his blues band lead the nominations with a total of seven – including Entertainer, Electric Artist, Guitarist and Recording of the Year (for his posthumous album Mess of Blues). Healey’s seasoned accompanists Al Webster, Dave Murphy and Alec Fraser are each nominated in their respective instrumental categories.

Barrelhouse blues pianist Julian Fauth and veteran act Downchild are next in line, earning four nominations apiece. Fauth’s honours include one in the recording category for his current album, Ramblin’ Son, while Downchild’s include two in instrumental categories for Michael Fonfara and Pat Carey. Following closely with three nominations each are Maritimer and “funkabilly-blues-soulman” Garret Mason, Toronto’s powerhouse blues vocalists Treasa Levasseur and Paul Reddick and Western axeman Amos Garrett (including his horn player Dave Babcock).

Fresh new faces not seen on the ballot last year are predominant in the instrumental categories: Seventeen of the 30 nominees are new, including JW-Jones and Curley Bridges. Not to mention New Artist of the Year contenders Daddy Long Legs, Keith Hallett, Marshall Lawrence, Monkey Junk and Sojourners. Multiple Drummer of the Year recipient, Maureen Brown, is also back in the race.

Returning this year are Atlantic blues faves Thom Swift, who garnered two nods, Tom Easley (Hot Toddy) and Geoff Arsenault (Morgan Davis/Thom Swift). Montreal is well represented, with recognitions going to Ray Bonneville (with two nods), Guy Belanger, Stephen Barry, Bob Walsh and Michael Jerome Browne, all with one each and last year’s Maple Blues host Dawn Tyler Watson, with two. Ontario raises up past Maple Blues winners Jack de Keyzer, Shakura S’Aida, Suzie Vinnick, Carlos Del Junco and Chris Whiteley, among others. The West has an increased presence this year, with distinctions going to Big Dave McLean – who has been making a big impact on the music scene of late – receiving two noms, as well as Amos Garrett, Dave Babcock, Harry Manx, bassist Keith Picot and drummer Chris Nordquist of The Twisters.

Of special note is the 2008 BLUES BOOSTER OF THE YEAR AWARD (selected by the Toronto Blues Society Board of Directors) which will go to the affectionately known “Professor of Rock n’ Roll” Rob Bowman for his outstanding contributions to the Canadian Blues industry. Bowman is a five-time Grammy Award nominee, and one-time winner (in 1996 for Best Album Notes for his 47,000-word monograph accompanying the 10-CD boxed set of The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975, which he co-produced). He also pioneered popular music studies at York University. He lectures, publishes and broadcasts in many areas of music, from country, R & B, blues and gospel to reggae, rap and funk. He has written liner notes for dozens of recordings including many of those by blues artists such as Colin Linden, and regularly authors, produces and advises on major documentary and CD reissue projects for record companies in Europe and North America.

The funky academic and music spokesperson has many broadcast credits as well, including a five-part radio series on the history of Canadian popular music and frequent guest spots on CBC Radio’s Definitely Not the Opera. Besides being a musician himself, Bowman has also authored a book called Soulsville, U.S.A. – The Story of Stax Records (1997), about the legendary Memphis-based record label. Upon hearing the news of his award, Bowman had this to say, “For years I have admired the work done by those behind the Maple Blues Awards in acknowledging the great blues music made by Canadian musicians and I am extremely honoured to have been chosen to receive the “Blues Booster of the Year Award.”

All nominees are selected by a distinguished panel of blues experts from across Canada, and winners are selected by the votes of Canadian blues fans. Voting begins online at from November 1st, 2008 at 1:00 am (NFLD) until 11:59 pm (PT) December 6th, 2008.


Entertainer Of The Year
Big Dave McLean
Dawn Tyler Watson
Garrett Mason
Jeff Healey

Electric Act Of The Year
David Rotundo
Garrett Mason
Jack de Keyzer
Jeff Healey

Acoustic Act Of The Year
Big Dave McLean
Harry Manx
Julian Fauth
Michael Jerome Browne
Thom Swift

Male Vocalist Of The Year
Bob Walsh
Danny Brooks
Harrison Kennedy
John Mays (Fathead)
Paul Reddick

Female Vocalist Of The Year
Dawn Tyler Watson
Roxanne Potvin
Shakura S’Aida
Suzie Vinnick
Treasa Levasseur

New Artist/Group Of The Year
Daddy Long Legs
Keith Hallett
Marshall Lawrence
Monkey Junk

BB King International Artist Of The Year
Eric Bibb
James Hunter
Mavis Staples
Taj Mahal
Watermelon Slim and the Workers

Recording Of The Year
Get Way Back (Stony Plain)
Amos Garrett
Producers: Amos Garrett & Dave Allcock

Mess of Blues (Stony Plain)
Jeff Healey
Producers: Jeff Healey & Alec Fraser

Ramblin’ Son (Electro-Fi)
Julian Fauth
Producers: Andrew Galloway, Alec Fraser & Julian Fauth

Goin’ By Feel (Red House)
Ray Bonneville
Producers: Rob Heaney, Gurf Morlix & Ray Bonneville

Low Fidelity (Slim Chicken)
Treasa Levasseur
Producers: David Gavan Baxter & Treasa Levasseur

Blues With A Feeling Award
(Lifetime Achievement)
Danny Brooks
Michael Fonfara
Alec Fraser
Amos Garrett
Tom Lavin
Ellen McIlwaine
Joe Murphy
Chris Whiteley
Ken Whiteley
Terry Wilkins

Blues Booster Of The Year
Rob Bowman
Guitarist Of The Year
Amos Garrett
Garrett Mason
Jeff Healey
Steve Strongman

Harmonica Player Of The Year
Carlos Del Junco
Guy Belanger
Jerome Godboo
Paul Reddick
Steve Marriner (Monkey Junk)

Piano/Keyboard Player Of The Year
Curley Bridges
Dave Murphy (Jeff Healey Band)
Julian Fauth
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne
Michael Fonfara (Downchild)

Horn Player Of The Year
Chris Murphy
Chris Whiteley
Dave Babcock (Amos Garrett)
Johnny Ferreira
Pat Carey (Downchild)

Drummer Of The Year
Al Webster (Jeff Healey Blues Band)
Bucky Berger (Fathead)
Chris Nordquist (The Twisters)
Geoff Arsenault (Morgan Davis)
Maureen Brown

Bassist Of The Year
Alan Duffy (Jack de Keyzer)
Alec Fraser (Jeff Healey Blues Band & Broken Joe)
Keith Picot (The Twisters)
Stephen Barry
Tom Easley (Hot Toddy)

Songwriter Of The Year
Julian Fauth
Paul Reddick
Ray Bonneville
Thom Swift
Treasa Levasseur

The Maple Blues Awards are supported by FACTOR and the Government of Canada through the Canadian Music Fund, the SOCAN Foundation, SOCAN, the Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, KMP Designs Inc., Stony Plain Records, Long & McQuade Musical Instruments and CBC Radio/Saturday Night Blues.

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The Toronto Blues Society acknowledges the annual support of the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage, and project support from FACTOR< and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada’s Private Broadcasters, The Canada Council for the Arts, the SOCAN Foundation, SOCAN, the Ontario Media Development Corporation, and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.