|Barney from Bolo's & Charle Butts
|Kathy Blair presents to Joe Brasch
|Kay Miller and Dean Davis
|Tiphony Dames & Dean Davis
|Robin Barrett and Coyote Kings
By Anita Royce
Photos by Carl Speer (unless otherwise noted)
Our Awards show and ceremony this year was one to be remembered, that is for sure.
If you were there, you heard two wonderful bands, and from the first to the last note of
the night and everything in between, the music was quality and the performances very
special. This year we had award sponsors who helped make our event fiscally
responsible, and we want to thank all of them so very much.
Mel Warren was in charge this year, and along with help from Kay Miller and myself, we
put this event together. Mel introduced our Master of Ceremonies, Dean Davis, who is
one of our founding members. Dean said he recognized some of the faces, but
because we have a lot of newer members, he was happy to see them as well, although
he did not recognize them. What was apparent though, was the joy on the faces and
the happiness throughout the room. The only sad note was that Ted Todd was with us
only in spirit, and we all miss him more than words can say.
Monte Price introduced the opening band, Spokane Dan & the Blues Blazers with Dan
Franklin at the helm playing guitar so well and singing loud and clear with his
wonderful voice. He is young and energetic, and it shows in all he does. With his father
Doug Franklin on bass, this father-son team is backed by Mike Dietrich on drums. The
Blues Blazers played for an hour and a half, and then it was time to start givin’ stuff
away. The three boxes were crammed with wrapped awards. Mel made sure she was
unwrapping the right award for the category, and our two “Vanna Whites,” Marva
Ulleland and Kathy Blair took turns taking the awards out to Dean Davis, where he
called out the winning name. Of course, if one was nominated for a category, they
actually were very deserving as well, and sometimes it would have been hard to pick
the winner. However, someone must win, and the name was called.
I wanted to make sure that ALL the nominees and ALL the winners receive our sincere
congratulations, and indeed the names on the voting ballot represented many of our
finest. There are some very deserving musicians whose names were not on the ballot
this year, some who have won in the past and will probably win in the future. At any
rate, this was our 2015 party honoring our winners and nominees.
The first category was Best Writer for Inside Blues, with nominees of myself, Al Blum,
and Dick Callison (from Canada), and myself. My name was called, and I was thrilled to
accept the award. I do a whole lot of writing for this publication, but it was the first time
I had ever won. Now that Mr. Craig H. is in the hall of fame, people actually had to vote
for someone else. Naw, we all love Craig, and we love what he writes. I wish more
people would send us articles, and when I accepted, I called for people to actually do
it. We could use writers, and this year we’ll see if someone else does.
The second category was Best Blues Radio program. Blues Therapy (KWCW, Walla
Walla, WA), Mojo Boogie (KYRS 92.3 & 88.1 FM, Medical Lake, WA), and Blowtorch
Blues (streaming online) were the nominees. I actually went on two radio shows to
promote the Awards this year, Mojo Boogie Blues and Dirt Road Blues (KCHW,
Chewelah) which was not nominated. We played tunes from as many of the nominees
as we could, as well as cuts from both our opening and our headliner bands. You
should tune into these programs (Listed in Blues in the Air in this publication as often
as we have room for it, or online see the listing at ieblues.org). Anyway, the winner of
this category was Blowtorch Blues, and Kay Miller came up to accept this award. This
was Ted Todd’s show. It is still being broadcast for the time being. If you listen, maybe
you will catch it as he says something like, “Blues so strong they will pull the panties off
a nun!” I hope I got the quote close to what he said, but it was something like that. We
will miss Blowtorch Blues and Ted.
Best Blues Drummer, with Ken Danielson, Mike Hays, and Wayne Curtis as nominees.
Ken Danielson with his schooled finesse and just great playing took home this award.
This is not the first time he has won.
Best Blues Bassist, with nominees Ramiro Vijarro, Randolph Knowles, and Pat Potter.
Randolph won, and this guy sure gets around and plays with a lot of bands, including
Rampage, Blues Edition, and now the Bobby Patterson band, and more. All the
bassists were very accomplished, but then again one had to win.
Next was Best Blues Instrumentalist (other), which means that the person nominated
plays something besides those instruments for which we have categories, such as
guitar, harmonica, keyboards, etc. That usually leaves the horn players, although one
year a lap steel player was nominated. Anyway, nominees were Chuck Swanson, Mike
Lenke, and Charlie Butts. Now, Chuck and Charlie usually seem to trade this award
every other year or so, but this year Mike Lenke won. Mike has had his health
problems throughout this year, but now he is better. He said to say a prayer for the
guitar player in his Baja Boogie Band. This is a band which has mostly local members,
some from Sandpoint, but they have often played in this area with David Raitt. Mike is
their trumpet player, and what a good one he is, with a long history of playing in this
area with Pat Coast, Big Mumbo, and out of this area with the big name guys! For now,
he was humbled to have won our award, although it was not the first time he had won it.
Best Blues Keyboardist had nominees Richard Dines, Danny McCollum, and Jesse
Weston. Jesse won, and what a showman he is on the keys. Dennis Higgins, who is
the very talented guitar player in his band, was there to accept the award for him.
Best Blues Harmonica comes next, and Dave Allen, Tuck Foster, & Charlie Butts were
nominated. There are some fine harp players in our area, and it was hard for our
voters to pick the best of these three, but in the end Charlie Butts won. Charlie said he
has been enjoying playing his harp a lot lately, and we heard him last month at our
Boogie. He deserves this award, although he is also a fine sax player as well. Bolo’s
Bar & Grill was the sponsor, for this event, so Barney Barnhart presented Charlie with
his award. Thanks, Barney.
Category numero eight was Best Female Vocalist. Nominees were Sara Brown, myself,
and Missy Califano. Sara and I have both won it before, but Missy walked away with
the award this year. This year Missy has done a lot to promote herself & Blues Edition,
and really taken her lovely voice out there, doing festivals, benefits and more. She just
finished a new CD, Keep Stirrin’, which is really worth more than a listen. Get it and
play it so you can have some Missy Califano of your own.
Best Male Vocalist followed with Tuck Foster, Robb Boatsman, and Dan Franklin
having been nominated. All these guys were in the house, and Dan was with the
opening band. Tuck Foster traveled the farthest, all the way up from Yakima with his
lovely wife, and it was worth the trip, ‘cause he sure did take home the award. If you
have not heard Tuck Foster & the Mossrites, catch them at the CDA Blues Festival in
a few months. Tuck is the showman, with a smooth blues voice that gets right out there.
Category 10, best Blues Guitarist, saw nominees of Robb Boatsman, Forest
Govedare, and Joe Brasch. All these guys are really “hot” guitar players, and two of
them have been around a while, but Forest is right up there with his blues, too. Joe
Brash, who is currently playing with Charlie Butts & the Filter tips, among others, won
this award. Joe says he often plays guitar all day, doing studio work and more. He is
very accomplished and deserving of this award. We are very happy to have Joe a part
of our blues family.
Best Slide Guitar had nominees Bryan Warhall, John Kelley (Montana), and Ben Rose,
who won it last year. John Kelley emailed us that he and his wife were very sick and
could not make it over here, so we wish them the best, and it looks as though John will
be over here playing soon, so more people could hear him. Ben Rose is also very
accomplished, but Bryan Warhall, who plays mostly, if not all, acoustic slide guitar, too
home the award. He was in the house and grinning ear to ear and very happy to
receive the award.
Best Female Blues Performer had a sponsor, Gerry Stone, who we thank very much.
Nominees were Missy Califano, Patrice Thompson Rose, and myself. Sara Brown is in
the Hall of Fame for this award, or otherwise she could have won it again, perhaps.
Anyway, my name was called, Anita Royce, and I was happy to receive this recognition
for the first time. In the end I am just a girl with a guitar who loves to sing and play the
blues, and perhaps it shows sometimes. I just love you ‘all, as without you, we
performers would not get seen. Thanks to all.
Best Male Performer had nominees Robb Boatsman, Tuck Foster, and Jesse Weston.
Now after seeing Jesse sit down on his keyboard and get out in the audience with a
belly dancer’s metal belt on (over his clothes) and do the hip shake, you realize he
does more than sit behind his keyboard. So who knew? And Robb puts on a good
show, too. However, in the end people voted for the smooth stage presence of Tuck
Foster, who has also won this award in the past. Thanks Tuck, and looking forward to
seeing more of you.
Best Acoustic Blues Act found The Doghouse Boyz, Robb Boatsman, and Jeff Aker in
the ranks. All have won it in the past, but in the end The Doghouse Boyz came away
with the votes. People just love that Neil Elwell and Ramiro Vijarro, who make up this
duo. They are past Hall of Famers, and they laid out just long enough for someone
else to win, but now they are back in the running. Catch them as often as you can.
Best New Blues Band had three fine bands nominated, Slow Cookin’, Spokane Dan &
the Blues Blazers, and the Jesse Weston Band. Slow Cookin’ has been a favorite and
playing all over the place. This band is made up of Larry Brown, Forest Govedare, Art
Quine, and now Mike Dietrich on drums (yes he has more than one band. What do
you expect? He is a drummer.) But then, so does Forest. Anyway, as a group they
have come on strong, and they were very happy to get this award.
The Best Blues Band category was sponsored by Bobbi’s Bar, so Bobbi Doupe’
presented this award. Thanks so much, Bobbi. There were nominations of Bakin’ Phat,
Tuck Foster & the Mossrites, and Robb Boatsman & Rampage. Bakin’ Phat won a
couple of years ago, and it was deja-vu this year with them coming up again for the
award. The difference was that last time Dennis Higgins was with them, and more
recently they now have Pat Coast playing guitar and singing with them. The band is a
bit different, but the band will continue on in its’ popularity. People seemed to agree,
because this year they again got the votes.
Best new blues album saw “Luck Said No” by Bryan Warhall, “Blues After Dark” by
Reese Hodge & Mary Anne Kerns, and “Howl” by Robin Barrett and Coyote Kings.
“Howl” spoke for itself, as many of the songs off the album were played by Coyote
Kings, our headliner band for this event. And yes, “Howl” did win the award.
Best Blues Event (non-festival) had nominations of Blues Cats for Kids (March 7th
2014), the Too Slim Benefit at The Knitting Factory, and the Echo Elysium/ Devon
Allman Band show at The Red Lion Dam Bar). The Too Slim Benefit won out, just
‘cause everyone loves Tim Langford so dang much, and of course we are so happy
he is now doing well. We also love Sammy Eubanks who put on this benefit, and he
came forward to accept the award. He said he would take it to Tim. Thanks to all who
attended these events to make them all a big success.
Dean Davis Photography was the sponsor for this event, and we thank Dean. Our
area’s Best Blues Festival was won three years in a row by Wallace, but since they are
in the Hall of Fame they could not win it again. So this year nominations were Winthrop
Rhythm & Blues Festival, the Coeur d ‘Alene Blues Festival, and Blues & Brews
Festival in Joseph, Oregon. Coeur d ‘Alene Blues Festival has won one other time,
and this time Mr. Craig Heimbigner was there to accept the award, as they won again.
All these festivals deserve to win, but one has to, and this is a fine springtime festival
that pretty much sold out last year. Of course, the boat cruise always sells out early,
which is a big part of it, too. Lots of fun with blues on the water.
The Best blues Club nominations were for Bobbi’s Bar (Plummer, ID), Bolo’s Bar & Grill
(Spokane Valley, WA), and the Viking Bar & Grill (Spokane, WA). In the end that little
bar in Plummer won the award. Bobbi has had quite a few blues events this past year,
like Buffalo Blues and Bar-be-que and much more. She hopes more Spokane people
venture down to her bar, which is only one hour south of Spokane Valley.
Keeping The Blues Alive is a category in which an individual has displayed exceptional
achievement in the survival blues music. Nominees were Al Blum, our current
President, who, in addition to many other things he did, took our blues booth to a
whole bunch of our area’s festivals; myself, who worked hard in many areas including
editing the newsletter, managing advert accounts, organizing many things, including
memberships and a new accounting system for our society; and Mic Benson, my
husband, who says he just was doing a job in the rain and keeping the music going at
Wallace. Actually, he deserves the award for helping me out so I can do more for all of
you, as well, and in the end, Mic lovingly voted for me. I thank you all for putting me
into the Hall of Fame, as it is my third year of winning this award. So next year do not
put my name on the nomination ballot. Above all, I will still work very hard for all of you.
The winner of our photo contest for 2015 was Jeri Goodwin. Her photo was Randy
Oxford and his trombone, with Tiphony Dames singing behind him at Sapolil Cellars.
Jeri was not at the awards, as she had work a photo shoot, but Tiphony came forward
to look at the picture and then receive it for Jeri, and has now taken the framed picture
to her. Jeri was thrilled to have won.
The Musician’s Choice Award was again presented this year by Larry Brown, and it
went to Luther Hughes, who is a wonderful individual and fine drummer who is playing
with Charlie Butts, so he is a Filter Tip. He has never won it anything, although he
should have, and that is exactly what this award is all about. Luther was present to
accept, driving all the way from the Tri-Cities.
The last presentations were two guitar give-aways. The first was a Johnson Strat Style
guitar from the collection of Robb Boatsman. This guitar was to be awarded to
someone who had signed up or renewed their membership during this last calendar
year. Robb came forward holding the guitar, and Kay Miller drew out the winning ticket
with the name of Mark Bryan on it. We all thought we had seen Mark during the night,
and someone held up his coat which was draped over the back of a chair, saying, “His
coat is here.” Everyone laughed, and eventually Mark did come in to find out that he
had won. The guitar was getting played within moments of him getting his hands on it.
He was thrilled to have won, and says it means a lot to him because it belonged to
Robb. Thanks again Robb.
The second was a Signature Guitar, and a very special one with artwork of Von Dago
on the front. It was the Ted Todd Memorial Guitar. Read about it in Al Blum’s article in
this publication. Signatures of performing artists were collected by Al and others at all
the festivals we attended, and hardly any more room on the guitar for another
signature. The guitar was black, and many signed with a special silver pen. The
winning ticket had the name of a Montana blues lover, Mitch Buerkle, and Al Blum will
be taking it to Montana, meeting the lucky winner halfway on the journey.
Our headliner band was Coyote Kings, and although these guys were a three-piece
last time they played for us, this time they had a special young lady with them. Tiphony
Dames brought the house down with her beautiful and strong vocals. She is something
special, as Robin calls her “The icing on the cake.” If you missed Tiphony and Robin
Barrett and his fine bunch, including Steve Kuhlman on bass and Gordon “Fryin’ Pan”
Townsend on drums, you will be sure to see them somewhere else this year. We all
danced and jumped around to their music, and we wished they did not have to ever
stop. But they had a long drive back to Walla Walla, so we had to let them go. Thank
you again, Coyote Kings.
I wanted to say again, congratulations to all the nominees and to all the winners.
Everyone deserves the big round of applause from all of you, even from those who
were unable to attend. Our area has some very fine musicians and other individuals
who help out and between all of us we will keep our blues society strong and growing.
This year, find another person and introduce them to what we do, bring them to a
festival or other performance. Sign them onto the newsletter so they can get it at their
home. And remember to nominate and vote. Next year we will have another great
party, but till then, have a great time in between.