by Phil Chesnut
On the final evening of April, the Washington Blues Society hosted their annual Best of Blues Awards, known as the BB Awards. This year's ceremonies were held at Seattle's Triple Door, recognized as one of the area's finest music venue/dinner clubs. The T-Door has always been a great supporter of the blues, featuring A-List touring blues talent every month. WBS President, Rhea Rolfe, can be thanked for securing this amazing music venue. With a huge stage, killer sound system (usually mixed well) a large screen showing slides, and fantastic service, menu and libations, the Triple Door was a perfect venue for this year's BBs.
Music was provided by three of the four bands nominated for this year's BB Award for Best Band. After the first five awards were presented, Becki Sue & Her Big Rockin' Daddies took command of the stage with a set of high energy blues. With the only set of real blues all night, this super talented band showed why they would collect five awards that night, including Best Band. After another block of awards, the next band to perform was Blues Alliance, who put on an uninspired set of unfamiliar rock based tunes. This left many wondering if the band knew that they were playing for real blues fans that night. Following another half dozen award presentations, the Red Hot Blues Sisters certainly livened up the room with a fine R&B set. As a relatively new band to the area blues scene, their soulful performance was a great first impression for many in the crowd.
Becki Sue & Her Big Rockin' Daddies
The Red Hot Blues Sisters
Some of the award highlights of the night included the Lifetime Achievement Award, given to Tommy Morgan, who has been playing drums for Little Bill & the Bluenotes for over 40 years. Guitarist, writer, and blues historian Jack Cook was inducted into the Washington Blues Hall of Fame. Drummer/blues fan, Jeff Hayes and Mt Baker Blues Fest master, Lloyd Peterson tied for the Keeping the Blues Alive Award. Besides the Big Rockin' Daddies' five awards, other multiple winners were Peterson with the KBAA and a BB for Best Festival, Doug Scoog for Best Vocals(tie) and Keys, and Paul Green for Best Harp and tying with Scoog for Vocals. Hall of Famer Alice Stuart also collected two, for Best Songwriter and Best New/Reformed Band.
It is a shame that this year's BB Awards was marred by the many bottom feeders who decided to stuff the ballot box. The BB Awards lost a lot of credibility this year, with so many undeserving names on the ballot. Fortunately, most of them didn't win. I am hoping that the WBS Board will write new nominating rules for next year to help revalidate these important awards.
Phil Chesnut is an award winning photographer and keen observer of the Northwest blues scene. All of the photographs that appear in this article were created by Phil.