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19th Annual Maple Blues Awards

Nominees and Winners Performers Photo Gallery

Internationally renowned Canadian Blues artists from coast to coast were honoured by their peers at the 19th Annual Maple Blues Awards gala in Toronto January 18th, 2016 as a full house of blues lovers gathered to celebrate Canadian blues at Koerner Hall.

Hosted by radio and television personality Gill Deacon, the 19th annual Maple Blues Awards included outstanding performances from The Maple Blues Band and Maple Blues Award nominees past and present, including David Gogo, Colin Linden, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, Harrison Kennedy, Cecile Doo-Kingue, and John Campbelljohn.


Guitar Stars Dominate Blues Awards

Larry Kurtz of the Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival takes home Blues Booster Award

(January 18, 2016) Toronto, ON –Internationally renowned Canadian Blues artists from coast to coast were honoured by their peers at the 19th Annual Maple Blues Awards gala in Toronto last night as a full house of blues lovers gathered to celebrate Canadian blues at Koerner Hall.

Montreal based guitar hero and one man band Steve Hill took home three awards, including Entertainer of the Year, Electric Act of the Year, and Guitarist of the Year. Also winning multiple awards was Nashville based Canadian guitarist and music icon Colin Linden, who took home awards for Recording/Producer of the Year for his album “Rich In Love” and Songwriter of the Year. The Songwriter of the Year award was presented to Linden by Barbara Newman, the new CEO of The Blues Foundation and Charlie Andrews, Manager of the SOCAN Foundation.

Western Canada’s thriving blues scene was represented with awards for British Columbia’s Harpdog Brownfor Harmonica Player of the Year, David Vest for Piano or Keyboard Player of the Year, Manitoba’s Big Dave McLean for Acoustic Act of the Year with the New Artist of the Year award presented to Alberta’sKirby Sewell Band.

Toronto Blues Society President Derek Andrews and Electro-Fi Records President Andrew Galloway presented Larry Kurtz, founder and Artistic Director of the Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival with the Blues Booster of the Year award, a very special Maple Blues Award honouring outstanding contribution to the Canadian blues music industry. Musicians Eric Bibb and Steve Strongman presented legendary Maritimes performer Theresa Malenfant with the Blues With a Feeling (Lifetime Achievement Award) for her outstanding career in the blues music community. Malenfant accepted the award with enthusiasm via video.

An additional award was handed out last night as the winners of the second annual Cobalt Prize for Contemporary Blues Composition were announced. The founder of the award, musician Paul Reddick, presented Conor Gains with a cash prize of $1000 for his song “Leave It On The Line”, with runners-upCecile Doo-Kingueand Tim Bastmeyer also receiving cash prizes.

Hosted by radio and television personality Gil Deacon, the 19th annual Maple Blues Awards included outstanding performances from The Maple Blues Band and Maple Blues Award nominees past and present, including David Gogo, Colin Linden, Samantha Martin, Harrison Kennedy, Cecile Doo-Kingueand John Campbelljohn.

Nominees and Winners

Congratulations to everyone who won at this year’s Maple Blues Awards! Winner names are highlighted in *BOLD in the nominee list below.

Entertainer of the Year

The 24th Street Wailers
David Gogo
Harrison Kennedy
*Steve Hill

Electric Act of the Year

The 24th Street Wailers
Anthony Gomes
David Gogo
*Steve Hill

Acoustic Act of the Year

*Big Dave McLean
Cécile Doo-Kingué
Harrison Kennedy
Michael Jerome Browne
Ross Neilsen

Male Vocalist of the Year

Harrison Kennedy
John Mays
Jon Knight (Soulstack)
Kirby Sewell
*Matt Andersen

Female Vocalist of the Year

*Angel Forrest
Cécile Doo-Kingué
Cheryl Lescom
Samantha Martin
Shakura S’Aida

New Artist or Group of the Year

Cécile Doo-Kingué
Jenie Thai
*Kirby Sewell Band
Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar
Sugar Brown

B.B. King International Artist of the Year

*Buddy Guy
Elvin Bishop
Eric Bibb
Mavis Staples
Sugaray Rayford

Recording/Producer of the Year

Big Dave McLean Faded But Not Gone (Black Hen); Producer: Steve Dawson
*Colin Linden Rich In Love (Stony Plain); Producers: Colin Linden, John Dymond & Gary Craig
Harrison Kennedy This is From Here (Electro-Fi); Producers: Harrison Kennedy & Jesse O’Brien
John Campbelljohn Chin Up (Nood); Producer: John Campbelljohn
Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar Send the Nightingale (Rench); Producer: Rench

Songwriter of the Year

Big Dave McLean
*Colin Linden
Harrison Kennedy
John Campbelljohn
Samantha Martin

Blues With A Feeling (Lifetime Achievement)

Diana Braithwaite
Alec Fraser
Danny Brooks
Ellen McIlwaine
Joe Murphy
Ken Whiteley
Michael Fonfara
Stephen Barry
Tom Lavin
Michael Jerome Browne
Brent Parkin
*Theresa Malenfant

Guitarist of the Year

Brandon Isaak
David Gogo
John Campbelljohn
Michael Jerome Browne
*Steve Hill

Harmonica Player of the Year

Guy Bélanger
*Harpdog Brown
Jerome Godboo
Roly Platt
Steve Marriner (MonkeyJunk)

Piano or Keyboard Player of the Year

*David Vest
Duane Blackburn (Blackburn)
Jesse O’Brien (Harrison Kennedy)
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne
Mark Wessenger (Soulstack)

Horn Player of the Year

Al Lerman (Fathead)
Chris Whiteley
Frank Thiffault (Ben Racine Band)
*Jon Wong (The 24th Street Wailers)
Richard Thornton (Jack de Keyzer)

Drummer of the Year

Chris Nordquist (Cannery Row)
Dave King (Steve Strongman)
Lindsay Beaver (The 24th Street Wailers)
Matt Sobb (MonkeyJunk)
*Tom Bona (Soulstack, Raoul & the Big Time)

Bassist of the Year

Alan Duffy (Jack de Keyzer)
Alec Fraser (Rick Fines)
Keith Picot (Twisters)
*Leigh-Anne Stanton (Wicked Grin)
Owen Owen Owen (Dalannah & Owen)


Harrison Kennedy | Hamilton, ON

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.

David Gogo | Nanaimo, BC

David Gogo Promo Photo by Scott DoubtAs 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, theCBC Saturday Night Blues’ Great Canadian Blues Awardfor 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.

Cécile Doo-Kingué | Montreal, QC

Cecile Doo-KingueConsidered 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 | Nashville, TN, USA

Colin Linden

Born in Toronto, Canada, 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.

John Campbelljohn | Dartmouth, NS

John Campbelljohn -PromoPic-HighRes

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 | Toronto, ON

Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar - Trio ShotBubbling 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 | Winnipeg, MB

Big Dave McLean Photo By Todd KorolA 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 shared the stage with 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.

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