Blues Critic Awards
2006 READERS POLL
Southern Soul Blues
As voted by Blues Critic readers
January 10 2007
Over 50,000 votes! So close were the polls this year! In nearly every category the winner's margin was less than 2 percent!. I'd like to think it was due to the sheer quality of Southern Soul Blues music released in 2006...and it was. There were many releases that were worthy of nominations but didn't make the cut because of scant distribution . I think it's safe to say this was one of the biggest years for the much maligned genre. Nevertheless, mainstream radio, mainstream print & retail are still behind on what's going on with this music. (Props though to Living Blues for publishing Funky Larry Jones' Top 10 singles chart this past year). Bootleggers continue to ruin the business...scumbags one and all. But all the DJs who play Southern Soul mom & pop shops, labels, websites and media people like Jerry "Boogie" Mason, Funky Larry Jones, Gary 'G Ball' Ball, E Norman (and many others- sorry to those not listed) have stepped up their efforts in getting this music in the fans ears and hands. "It takes a nation of millions" to hold it back...
There's a lot of talk about the term "Southern Soul". It's really just good ol' Soul Music period. It's called "Southern" because any fool knows the Deep South is where Soul music was born. I prefer to call the music "Deep Soul, Rhythm & Blues", which covers it all. "Southern Soul" incorporates Blues, Funk, classic R & B, Contemporary R & B etc... but is distinguished from mainstream "R & B" like R. Kelly & Mary J. Blige. Don't ask me why...it just is.
Well enough of that- let's get onto the results!
-Dylann DeAnna Blues Critic Editor
Best Southern Soul/R & B Album
Willie Clayton "Gifted" (Malaco)
We had records by Sir Charles Jones, Mel Waiters, Willie Clayton, Theodis Ealey, Gwen McCrae, William Bell, Betty Padgett, Barbara Carr, Omar Cunningham, Billy Soul Bonds, Donnie Ray, J. Blackfoot, Kenne Wayne & Renea Mitchell...but the winner is? "Gifted" by Willie Clayton! (Runner-up Theodis Ealey "I'm The Man You Need (Ifgam))
Best Southern Soul/Blues Album
Bobby Warren "Pioneers & Legends (KonKord)
Nominees included Joey Gilmore, Jackie Payne-Steve Edmonson Band*, Maurice Davis, Frankie Lee, Clarence Carter, Lee Shot Williams, Trudy Lynn, Preston Shannon, Little Phil, Roy Roberts, Bob Steele & Walter Waiters. This was THE CLOSEST of all the polls. Runner-up Jackie Payne-Steve Edmonson Bands' "Master Of The Game" was ahead of the pack until the last several days when Bobby Warren "Pioneers & Legends" (KonKord) pulled ahead and won by 22 votes! (*Not to worry Payne/Edmonson won "Best Soul Blues Album" in our separate CONTEMPORARY BLUES AWARDS 2006.)
Southern Soul Blues Song Of The Year
"Scat Cat...Here Kitty Kitty" by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (Waldoxy)
It had stiff competition from hits by Willie Clayton ("I'm Going Crazy"), Chairmen Of The Board ("The Blacker The Berry"), William Bell ("New Lease On Life"), Theodis Ealey ("Francine") and more by Donnie Ray, Renea Mitchell, Ms. Monique, Greeg A. Smith, Steve Perry, Bob Steele, Sir Charles Jones, Clarence Carter, Mel Waiters & Betty Padgett but "Scat Cat...Here Kitty Kitty" by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (Waldoxy) was just one of those songs that everybody loved. Runner-up: "New Lease On Life" by William Bell (Wilbe).
Best Slow Jam
"Scat Cat...Here Kitty Kitty" by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (Waldoxy)There was just no stopping Billy 'Soul' Bonds as his "Scat Cat...Here Kitty Kitty" (Waldoxy) narrowly trumped runner up Kenne Wayne's "If The Shoe Was On The Other Foot" (Goodtime) for it's second award!
Best Dance Song
"Throwback Days" by Mel Waiters (Waldoxy)
The monster club favorite "Mississippi Cha Cha Slide" by Mix Master Lee (Alpine/Team Airplay) seemed like a sure thing in this category but Mr. "Hole In The Wall" Mel Waiters "Throwback Days" (Waldoxy) was Blues Critic readers' "BEST DANCE SONG" of 2006. Runner-up: "Francine" by Theodis Ealey (Make Cents)
Best Vocal Performance FEMALE
Gwen McCrae on "Let's Straighten It Out" (Henry Stone)
It was a fantastic year for the Southern Soul divas! Sheba Potts-Wright, Lacee', Ms. Monique, Barbara Carr, Betty Padgett, Lorraine Turner, Candi Staton, Irma Thomas, Joy, Lady Audrey, Trudy Lynn...but Gwen McCrae is yo' gal on her duet with Latimore for "Let's Straighten It Out" (Henry Stone Music) Runner-up: Betty Padgett "Never Coming Home" (Meia)
Best Vocal Performance MALE
William Bell for "New Lease On Life" (Wilbe)
William Bell was nominated for three awards and nearly won all three but instead he narrowly edged out runner-up Willie Clayton for this award. The Bell is back! He was also a winner in 2005 for his duet with Jeff Floyd. Winner: William Bell for "New Lease On Life" (Wilbe). Other nominees were Kenne' Wayne, Omar Cunningham, Gregg A. Smith, Mel Waiters, Lebrado, Wendell B., Carl Sims, Patrick Green, O.B. Buchana & Sir Charles Jones.
Best Performance By A Duo Or Group
J. Blackfoot & Lenny Williams for "I'm Just A Fool For You" (JEA Music)
2 legends. 1 song. 1 award. Although runners-up Gwen McCrae & Latimore scooped up a large percentage of the vote J. Blackfoot & Lenny Williams "I'm Just A Fool For You" (JEA Music/Right Now) easily won. Other nominees: K Band, Charles Wilson & Shara Scott & Ms. Monique & Millie Jackson.
Best New Artist FEMALE
This must have been difficult for voters with so many great new artists to choose from. Joy, Coco, Ms. Jody, Bertha Payne, Roni, Ms. Peaches, Miz B, Karen Wolfe, Renea Mitchell and BEST NEW FEMALE ARTIST Lacee' Runner-up: Roni.
Best New Artist MALE
Mel ain't the only Waiters on the scene! Walter Waiters is a rising star and BEST NEW MALE ARTIST of the year. Other nominees: Charlie Brown, Bob Steele, Napoleon, Dee Bradley, Larome Powers, El Willie, Spring, Lebrado & Runner-up Patrick Harris
Best Record Producer(s) Of The Year
Willie Clayton & Vick Allen
Man oh man oh man. Tough choices. The JEA Music producer team of runners up James Alexander, Sam Fallie & Larry Dodson brought us music by the Bar Kays, J. Blackfoot, Lacee' & more. Bruce Billups produced Theodis Ealey's "Francine" and Lebrado. Legendary producer henry Stone was back to produce Gwen McCrae. Percy T. Firends, Simeo Overall, Morris J, Tommy Couch Jr., John Ward, Rue Davis & Vernon Webster all produced great music as well but Willie Clayton & Vick Allen would not be denied. Not only was there Clayton & Allen's own music together but separately they also had a hand in projects by Mel Waiters, Omar Cunningham & David Sea.
The BLUES CRITIC staff pick...
SOUTHERN SOUL ARTIST OF THE YEAR
In 2006 Willie Clayton had two Top 5 Southern Soul hits ("I'm Going Crazy" & "Boom Boom Boom"), his CD "Gifted" was voted "Best Southern Soul/R & B Album" of the year, made the Billboard Top 100 R & B/Hip Hop Albums chart,. he produced the Omar Cunningham CD "Worth The Wait", he toured, he made a video, he ruled.
As voted by Blues Critic readers
January 22 2007
In only 3 1/2 weeks of voting 42,980 votes were counted for the 2006 Blues Critic Awards Readers Poll for Contemporary Blues. There were many releases that were worthy of nominations but didn't make the cut because of hefty competition and differences in distribution and promotional support.
Dylann DeAnna, Blues Critic Online editor
Blues Album Of 2006
Watermelon Slim & The Workers "self titled" (Northern Blues)
The self-titled release by Watermelon Slim & The Workers bested albums by Janiva Magness, Jackie-Payne Steve Edmonson Band, Charlie Musselwhite, runner-up Irma Thomas, Frankie Lee, Joey Gilmore, Candi Staton & J.J. Cale & Eric Clapton.
Best Soul/Blues Album
Jackie Payne Steve Edmonson Band "Master Of The Game" (Delta Groove Prod)
Some may have noticed we had a similar category in our Southern Soul Blues Awards poll. "Master Of The Game" by Jackie Payne-Steve Edmonson Band very nearly won "Best Southern Soul/Blues Album" there. And they did win here by edging out runners-up Irma Thomas and Billy Price to earn "Best Soul Blues Album". Other nominees included Johnny Rawls, Roy Roberts, Willie Walker & The Butanes, Trudy Lynn, Frankie Lee, Billy Jones, Little Phil, James Hunter, Preston Shannon
Best Traditional Blues or Blues/Rock Album
Janiva Magness "Do I Move You" (Northern Blues)
Nominees: Walter Trout, runner-up J.J. Cale & Eric Clapton, Ronnie Baker brooks, Charlie Musselwhite, Ike Turner, D.C. Bellamy, Lil Dave Thompson, Michelle Malone, Daddy Mack Blues Band, Eddie Kirkland, Lynwood Slim & WINNER Janiva Magness "Do I Move You?"
Best Live Or Compilation Album
Nick Moss & The Flip Tops "Live At Chan's" (Blue Bella)
With heavy competition from box sets by runner-up John Lee Hooker & Buddy Guy plus live discs by Robert Cray, Travis Haddix, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Floyd Dixon & Larry McCray it's especially noteworthy that Nick Moss & The Flip Tops "Live At Chan's" beat out such legends.
Blues Song Of The Year
"The Ghosts Of Mississippi" by Graham Wood Drout
Performed by Drout, Joey Gilmore & Albert Castiglia
With great versions by Joey Gilmore & Albert Castiglia, which likely pulled votes from fans of each, Graham Wood Drout's "The Ghost Of Mississippi" resonating longer than strong cuts by Charlie Musselwhite ("Church is Out"), runner-up Watermelon Slim ("Devil's Cadillac") plus songs by Big Shanty, Bobby Warren, Rue Davis (for Trudy Lynn), Philipp Fankhasuer, Curtis Obeda (for Willie Walker), Billy Gibson, Steve Edmonson/Carl Green/Nicky Otis/Jackie Payne (for Jackie Payne-Steve Edmonson Band), Michael Murchison, Michael Powers (for Michael Powers) & Eddie Kirkland.
Best New Artist Debut
James Hunter "People Gonna Talk" (Rounder)
Some folks across the pond took umbrage that James Hunter would be considered a "new artist" being that he's already established outside the USA. Hunter is also up for the same award in the 2007 Blues Music Awards (formerly the W.C. Handy's). Forgive our ignorance as "People Gonna Talk" was voted "Best New Artist Debut". Other nominees included: runner-up Fiona Boyes (another established artist overseas), Billy Jones, Big Shanty, John Long, Emil & The Ecstatics, Jen Elliott and Little Phil
Blues Singer MALE
This was the closest poll of the lot. By a matter of 20-32 votes Billy Price won over Jackie Payne & Watermelon Slim for "Blues Singer" of the year. Other nominees were: Frankie Lee, Tab Benoit, Preston Shannon, Robert Cray, Eddie Kirkland and Willie Walker.
Blues Singer FEMALE
Fans have known for some time that Janiva Magness has one of the best female Blues voices in the business and now she's getting her due. Michelle Malone, Candi Staton, Maria Muldaur, Zora Young, Marcia Ball, Nora-Jean Bruso & runner-up Irma Thomas were also nominated.
Kid Ramos narrowly topped runner-up Steve Edmonson with Andrew "Jr Boy" Jones, Guitar Shorty & Joe Bonamassa not far behind.
Calvin "Fuzz" Jones
By less than 50 votes veteran Calvin "Fuzz" Jones is thus named best bassist over runner-up Bob Stroger. Larry Taylor, Bill Singletary & Bill Stuve also garnered a high percentage of votes.
In a category that included ace harpists like Rod Piazza, Mitch Kashmar, Kim Wilson & James Harmon the legend Charlie Musselwhite prevails.
Willie "Big Eyes" Smith
Nominees: Runner-up Richard Innes, Sam Carr, Tommy Hill, Sam Lay and winner Willie "Big Eyes" Smith
Mark "Kaz" Kasanoff
Another extremely close race. The Sweet Meet Horns impressed with Jackie Payne-Steve Edmonson Band. Billy Price benefited from the Billy Price Horns. The maestro Calvin Owens and Deanna Bogart. But acclaimed session man Mark "Kaz" Kasanoff narrowly wins
Winner: Dr. John. Other nominees: Runner-up Marcia Ball, Honey Piazza, Henry Butler & Floyd Dixon
Otis Taylor (banjo)
African instruments, fiddles, banjos, accordions and still the Blues. Otis Taylor and his banjo prowess impressed the voters more than work by runner-up Dan Treanor, Guy Davis, Maria Muldaur, Suzy Thompson.
The BLUES CRITIC staff pick...
CONTEMPORARY BLUES ARTIST OF THE YEAR
She won for Best Blues Singer FEMALE & Best Traditional Blues or Blues/Rock Album thanks to her terrific showcase "Do I Move You?" and her commanding live shows. It was time she got her due.