They all thought I was mad (no change there) to do a live STAR BLUES on Boxing Day. Thankfully the invitation to your place at this special time of year proved them wrong - your kindness was somewhat humbling. We did a run through of 2010's best bits, announced the second annual STAR BLUES Award winners and took the wraps off my Almanac book.
Imelda May is one of Ireland's best exports at the moment, we marked her debut on the cover of Classic Rock magazine with the lead off track on her "Mayhem" album. Dana Gillespie is probably best known for her acting but she is also a very fine purveyor of jump blues on the raunchy side. Her newest album is a self-written project on Ace that should see her get some props, we had a track to mark it last night. We also had "Color Blind Angel" from Robin Rogers: it is the song she was most proud of about a murdered Civil Rights Campaigner and it also showed Robin's own spirit that wasn't quite strong enough to best liver cancer two weeks ago - already very much missed.
Robert Cray was awesome at the Cambridge Corn Exchange in 2010 and in the playlist yesterday. As for the awards, Alligator wrested the Label crown off last years winner Delta Groove with exceptional releases for the Holmes Brothers, Charlie Musselwhite, James Cotton, Smokin' Joe Kubek and Janiva Magness. Both the last named got played with Janiva doing a really bluesy cover of Nick Lowe's "Homewrecker". At 74 Buddy Guy turned in an album full of brio and balls called "Living Proof" that got him Artist of the Year in an example of guitar mastery that every axe player out there should be worried by. The London based ACE outfit held on to the award for reissue label of the year with their ethical approach to royalties and packages including photos, memorabilia and information essays. Their knowledge and love for the music will be difficult to beat in any year.Dana's album above, the new one from Mavis Staples and Bettye LaVette's "Interpretations" flew the flag for women of a certain age, but Bettye's album was so achingly beautiful I felt moved to sing its praises to all and sundry. She scooped Album of the Year and we put her version of Derek & Dominoes' "Why Does Love Got To Be So Bad" into our show to celebrate her remarkable achievement.
The last award came from the listener vote, Robert Plant was the choice as Artist of the Year - his knowledgeable selection of songs and enthusiastic production brought life to a project his voice wasn't capable of a few years ago. All the winners are published in "GARY BLUEs ALMANAC 2011" and everyone is welcome to a free copy by just sending their email address to email@example.com Its completely free but if you enjoy it or find it useful, please consider sending a small donation to the Music Maker charity. I'm not associated with them in any way but they provide help to bluesmen without health insurance and so on.
If you like tomfoolery and mayhem and some music you wont hear anywhere else, our company is more than welcome on Tuesday at 7pm for three hours "BACK-in-Black". Hope you can make it until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you