The 2015 Blues Music Awards were held in the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, TN, on Thursday, May 7, honoring The Blues Foundation members’ selections for the finest blues musicians and recordings of the past year. Two of Portland’s most beloved musicians were chosen individually for this award, Jimi Bott for Instrumentalist – Drums and Lisa Mann for Instrumentalist – Bass. This was Bott’s sixteenth nomination and his first win; for Mann it was her first nomination and follows on the heels of taking home the Blues Blast Award for the Sean Costello Rising Star honor last fall.
For the first time in its thirty-six year history, the Blues Music Awards was sold out. Those in attendance saw 24 awards handed out and twenty ten-minute sets of many of the most prestigious blues artists performing today, including Elvin Bishop, Keb’ Mo’, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Nemeth, John Hammond, and Charlie Musselwhite as well as rising stars like Jarekus Singleton and Selwyn Birchwood. Portland’s own Lisa Mann and Kevin Selfe performed with Candi Staton and Jimi Bott played behind Sugaray Rayford. This year’s big winners were Elvin Bishop taking home three awards, John Hammond with two and Bobby Rush also with two including the coveted BB King Entertainer of the Year Award.
The night also paid tribute to Blues Hall of Fame members with many in attendance, including 2015 inductee Tommy Brown. Also inducted this year but not able to attend were Eric Clapton and Little Richard. The Blues Music Awards celebration was completed on Friday with the grand opening of the Blues Hall of Fame on South Main Street in downtown Memphis, directly across from the National Civil Rights Museum. It’s a beautifully designed museum honoring the inductees who have been the most influential and innovative artists in the genre. A statue of Little Milton holding his guitar on a park bench greets visitors just outside the museum, just one of the many fine exhibits offered.
The 2015 Blues Music Award winners are:
Acoustic Album: Timeless – John Hammond
Acoustic Artist: John Hammond
Album: Can’t Even Do Wrong Right – Elvin Bishop
B.B. King Entertainer: Bobby Rush
Band: Elvin Bishop Band
Best New Artist Album: Don’t Call No Ambulance – Selwyn Birchwood
Contemporary Blues Album: BluesAmericana – Keb’ Mo’
Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Janiva Magness
Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Gary Clark Jr.
Historical: Soul & Swagger: The Complete “5” Royales 1951-1967 – The “5” Royales (Rock Beat)
Instrumentalist-Bass: Lisa Mann
Instrumentalist-Drums: Jimi Bott
Instrumentalist-Guitar: Joe Bonamassa
Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Charlie Musselwhite
Instrumentalist-Horn: Deanna Bogart
Koko Taylor Award: Ruthie Foster
Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Marcia Ball
Rock Blues Album: Step Back – Johnny Winter
Song: “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right” written and performed by Elvin Bishop
Soul Blues Album: Memphis Grease – John Németh
Soul Blues Female Artist: Sista Monica
Soul Blues Male Artist: Bobby Rush
Traditional Blues Album: For Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters) – Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson
Traditional Blues Male Artist: Lurrie Bell