Blues Music Now! Grapevine

Oct. 15, 2001

B.B. King autographed guitar part of MCA Charity Auction

MCA Records artists including B.B. King donated items this fall in the MCA Charity Auction. The proceeds benefitted the United Way Sept. 11 Fund. The event started on Oct. 15 and ran for three weeks. Other items in the auction were autographed by Jimi Hendrix, Gladys Knight and Patti Labelle.

May 24, 2001

B.B. King, Shemekia Copeland lead Handy Award winners

MEMPHIS — B.B. King and Shemekia Copeland each were honored twice at the 22nd Annual Handy Awards, which were held on May 24 at the Orpheum Theatre.

King won his third straight entertainer of the year award. He also took contemporary album of the year, along with Eric Clapton, for "Riding With The King."

Copeland, 22, won the award for blues album of the year for "Wicked." The daughter of the late Johnny Copeland also was named best contemporary female artist.

Etta James, who was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame during the ceremonies, won a Handy for soul/blues female artist of the year.

The Handy Awards are presented by The Blues Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving blues history and celebrating blues excellence.

Other winners at this year's ceremony, which was hosted by piano player Dr. John, were:

Acoustic Album of the Year, "Delta Crossroads" by Robert Lockwood, Jr.
Acoustic Artist of the Year, Keb' Mo'
Blues Band of the Year, Taj Mahal & The Phantom Blues Band
Best New Artist of the Year, North Mississippi Allstars
Comeback Album of the Year, "Neck Bones & Caviar" by Mel Brown
Contemporary Male Artist of the Year, Eddy Clearwater
Historical Blues Album of the Year, "Last Call" by Otis Spann
Instrumentalist of the Year (Bass), Willie Kent
Instrumentalist of the Year (Drums), Chris Layton
Instrumentalist of the Year (Guitar), Duke Robillard
Instrumentalist of the Year (Harmonica), Charlie Musselwhite
Instrumentalist of the Year (Horns), Roomful of Blues
Instrumentalist of the Year (Keyboards), Pinetop Perkins
Instrumentalist of the Year (Other), Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Song of the Year, "It's 2 A.M." by R. Vito (Shemekia Copeland, Wicked)
Soul Blues Album of the Year, "My Heart's in Memphis" by Irma Thomas
Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year, Little Milton
Traditional Album of the Year, "Letting Go" by Son Seals
Traditional Female Artist of the Year, Koko Taylor
Traditional Male Artist of the Year, James Cotton

April 19, 2001

Bobby Rush tour bus crash kills band member

Soul blues singer Bobby Rush is recuperating after his tour bus was involved in a one-vehicle accident on the way to Pensacola, Fla., in the early morning hours of Thursday, April 19. Band member Latisha Brown died in the crash.

Numerous other band members sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Several band members have undergone surgery and Rush was kept overnight in a Florida hospital with head and neck injuries. He returned home last week.

According to his wife Jean, Rush is doing well, and is expected to recover fully.

No official cause of the accident has been reported. However, officials are investigating whether the driver of the bus might have suffered a heart attack that caused him to lose control of the vehicle and strike a tree.

Brown is survived by three children, ages 6, 4 and 2, who are now in the care of their grandmother.

Best wishes for the band's recovery, and condolences for Brown's relatives and friends may be sent to Bobby's son, Carl Ellis, at 2615 Harriotte Avenue, Jackson, MS  39209.

A Web page has been established to provide updates on the health of band members, along with information about a fund established by Blues Aid to help band members.

March 1, 2001

Deborah Coleman wins Gibson Award as top female blues guitarist

LOS ANGELES — Blind Pig recording artist Deborah Coleman was awarded the 2001 Orville H. Gibson Award as best female blues guitarist in a ceremony hosted by the Gibson Guitar Corp. at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles on Feb. 20.

The Gibson awards recognize the outstanding talent and achievement of guitarists in a variety to musical fields. Among those in attenance at the ceremony were guitar innovator Les Paul and other honorees Peter Frampton, who won a lifetime achievement award, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who was honored as best male blues guitarist.

"I'm sincerely honored to be recognized by Gibson and to be placed in such great company amongst the other nominees," Coleman said.

Coleman is currently completing her fourth recording for Blind Pig, entitled "Livin' on Love," which is scheduled to be released on May 22. Working with her own band and with producer Jim Gaines at the helm, she has finished recording at Sounds Unreel studio in Memphis. In March, she will return to Memphis to mix the album at Ardent Studio.

Coleman is a four-time W.C. Handy nominee who was simultaneously featured last year on the covers of Blues Revue and Living Blues magazines.

Feb. 21, 2001

B.B. King, Clapton, Taj Mahal win Grammys

LOS ANGELES — B.B. King added to his impressive collection of GRAMMY awards by winning two more at the 43rd annual GRAMMY ceremony at the Staples Center.

King, along with Eric Clapton, claimed best traditional blues album for "Riding With the King" (Reprise Records).

King also was nominated in the category for "Let The Good Times Roll," his tribute to Louis Jordan. Other nominees for best traditional blues album included "Superharps" (Telarc Blues) by James Cotton, Billy Branch, Charlie Musselwhite and Sugar Ray Norcia; "Delta Crossroads (Telarc Blues) by Robert Lockwood Jr.; and "Milk Cow Blues (Island/Def Jam Music Group) by Willie Nelson.

King, who has won 11 previous GRAMMY awards, also took the prize for this year's best pop collaboration with vocals for "Is You Is, or Is You Ain't (My Baby)," his duet with Dr. John on "Let the Good Times Roll. (MCA Records)"

"It's still very exciting," King said shortly afterward receiving his awards. "At 75 years of age, I just feel so lucky. I put my heart into my music every day, but some days it comes out better than others. I guess this is for one of the good days."

When questioned as to where in the King household he'd found room for his prodigious collection of awards, he chuckled and said, "Well, I sleep near some and put the others where I can see them." Asked if any one of his GRAMMYs was particularly sweet for him, King had a ready answer. "Yeah, the next one."

The best contemporary blues album was claimed by Taj Mahal & The Phantom Blues Band for "Shoutin' In Key" (Hannibal Records).

Other nominees for best contemporary blues album were "Wicked" (Alligator Records) by Shemekia Copeland; "Shake Hands With Shorty" (Tone Cool Records) by the North Mississippi Allstars; "Hoochie Man" (Malaco/Waldoxy) by Bobby Rush; and "Royal Blue" (Alligator Records) by Koko Taylor.

This year's awards are for recordings released from Oct. 1, 1999, through Sept. 30, 2000.

Feb. 1, 2001

Handy Awards to honor top blues musicians in May

B.B. King, Bobby Rush, Little Milton, Rod Piazza, Shemekia Copeland and Taj Mahal will vie for the honor of blues entertainer of the year at this year's W.C. Handy Blues Awards.

The 22nd Handy Awards will be presented on Thursday, May 24, at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tenn. The ceremony will be followed by two days of blues music on Beale Street. The host will be New Orleans legend Dr. John.

"The incredibly broad and diverse array of artists represented by this year's slate of Handy nominees displays how palpable a force the blues genre exerts on American music," said Blues Foundation Executive Director Howard Stovall. "From masters in their eighties to newcomers in their twenties, there has never been a stronger core of blues musicians in American music, nor a better or more exciting collection of blues music available to the American public. Honoring the best of the best will be a real pleasure for The Blues Foundation this year, and with the Handy Awards available on television to a national audience, we will show the excitement of 21st century Blues to our largest audience ever."

For over two decades the Handy Awards have celebrated excellence in performance and recording of the Blues. A panel of international blues industry experts votes on the initial nominees and 30,000 blues fans choose the winners.

Named in honor of W.C. Handy, "Father of the Blues," the awards ceremony traditionally opens the Handy Weekend. Celebrations include the Blues Symposium with workshops, panel discussions; and the Handy Awards Festival with blues bands performing in the clubs along Beale Street and a BluesAid Concert.

The Blues Foundation is a 501(C)3 corporation dedicated to preserving blues history, celebrating blues excellence and supporting Blues excellence. It is the umbrella organization for an international network of over 110 affiliated organizations with members in 28 countries.

Follow this link for a list of the nominees

Jan. 10, 2001

Johnnie Johnson sues Chuck Berry; gets hall of fame nod

More than 40 years ago, Chuck Berry wrote "Johnny B. Goode" to honor his piano player and partner, Johnnie Johnson.

These days, Berry might want to change the title of the tune to "Johnnie B. Bad." In a St. Louis Federal District Court on Nov. 29, Johnson filed suit against Berry and his publishing firm, Isalee Music Co., in an attempt to receive recognition for 52 songs that he says he wrote with Berry. In his claim, Johnson, 76, says Berry registered the copyrights to the songs in his name alone and, therefore, was the sole recipient of royalties from those songs.

Johnson is seeking royalties for many of Berry's songs including "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Roll Over Beethoven" in an amount to be determined at trial.

Johnson's role in developing those songs was chronicled in a recent book," Father of Rock & Roll: The Story of Johnnie 'B Goode' Johnson," written by Travis Fitzpatrick. The book was discussed in a previous article published in Blues/Soul Scene.

Fitzpatrick, who has continued his involvement in Johnson's career, says the decision to sue Berry was made by Johnson. "Justice is justice no matter how long it takes," Fitzpatrick told Blues/Soul Scene. "As Johnnie says, 'I once was blind and now I see.'"

Fitzpatrick notes that claims from Berry's camp that the lawsuit was a surprise are less than truthful. "Johnnie sent Chuck a copy of the complaint weeks in advance and Chuck chose not to respond," he says.

The lawsuit was one of several big developments for Johnson in the final weeks of 2000. In December, Johnson learned that he would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the organization's sideman category. Supporters of Johnson, including Fitzpatrick, have campaigned for several years to have Johnson inducted in the rock hall of fame. Yet, until the Hall of Fame created the sideman category last year, Johnson wasn't eligible for induction because he wasn't credited on the Berry records. Johnson's own solo recording career didn't start until the early 1990s.

In September, Johnson received another honor — a pioneer award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in New York City.

Johnson's career as a blues pianist continues to blossom. In addition to live appearances, plans are proceeding on two studio projects. One is a Johnson tribute album for Ahmet Ertegun and Atlantic Records that might include contributions from some of rock music's most legendary stars, according to Fitzpatrick.

"Paul McCartney has verbally agreed, Bob Dylan as well, and the Rolling Stones," says Fitzpatrick, who says that recording could begin early this year around the time of Johnson's induction into the rock hall of fame.

Fitzpatrick says he's involved in mixing some songs Johnson recorded several years ago for another possible album. When the project is completed, they will offer it to Atlantic, he says.

Jan. 3, 2001

B.B. King receives three Grammy nominations

Legendary blues performer B.B. King received three nominations for the 43rd Annual GRAMMY Awards, includng two nods for best traditional blues album.

King was nominated for "Let the Good Times Roll" (MCA Records) and "Riding With The King" (Reprise Records), which was recorded with Eric Clapton.

King's third nomination was for best pop collaboration with vocals — his duet with Dr. John, "Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't (My Baby), also from "Let the Good Times Roll."

Other nominees for best traditional blues album included "Superharps" (Telarc Blues) by James Cotton, Billy Branch, Charlie Musselwhite and Sugar Ray Norcia; "Delta Crossroads (Telarc Blues) by Robert Lockwood Jr.; and "Milk Cow Blues (Island/Def Jam Music Group) by Willie Nelson.

Nominees for best contemporary blues album were received for "Wicked" (Alligator Records) by Shemekia Copeland; "Shoutin' In Key" (Hannibal Records) by Taj Mahal and The Phantom Blues Band; "Shake Hands With Shorty" (Tone Cool Records) by the North Mississippi Allstars; "Hoochie Man" (Malaco/Waldoxy) by Bobby Rush; and "Royal Blue" (Alligator Records) by Koko Taylor.

GRAMMY winners will be presented at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 21 in a ceremony televised by CBS, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern. This year's awards are for recordings released from Oct. 1, 1999, through Sept. 30, 2000.

Go to Grapevine 2000.

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