I want to congratulate all MBA nominees & winners. Last night's [Jan. 21] gala was more fun and had more upsets than a hockey game - unpredictable and entertaining! Colin James garnered his fair share of kudos last night, and Downchild Blues Band won an astounding 5 awards in each respective category of its sidemen - unbelievable! Who would of thunk it?! Fitz, Fonf, Chuck, Pat and most importantly Gary; I love you guys, all of you richly deserve your awards.
As many of you may know, I borrow Donnie's guys for many of the performances that I book and host down in Niagara. I owe a great debt of thanks to Donnie Walsh and his sidemen. I consider them all to be dear friends and they are, to a man, avid supporters, purveyors and producers of roots music in Canada & beyond. Next year I heartily encourage those of you who have influence in choosing nominees to recognize Donnie's undisputed and lasting contribution to the international blues scene.
Hearty congrats also to Harry Manx, Dawn Tyler Watson, Big Dave McLean, Jack de Keyzer, David Rotundo, Watermelon Slim, Colin Linden, Ian Angus and Thom Swift. What a treat to hear many of you perform with Gary's superb MBA band. All of your performances sparkled with sincerity and soul backed by a houseband comprised of the finest sidemen in the country. I can hardly wait to hear the CBC's recording of the event, as it was something that needed to be captured for posterity. We owe the CBC and our national CBC Saturday Night Blues radio host, Holger Peterson, a great debt of thanks for heightening awareness of roots music in Canada.
Dawn was the consummate hostess, Garret Mason's 'Bo Diddley' groove gave shave and hair cut two bits completely new meaning, Jack de K's solo was like listening to a waterfall of glistening notes, and the tribute to Richard Bell, Rod Phillips, Doug Riley, and Oscar Peterson was, for me at least, perhaps the high water mark of the evening. Bill King, Fonf, Lance Anderson, as well as, Mako Funasaka's film tribute, brilliantly conveyed the deep sense of grief and loss we all must feel.
The debt of thanks owed to the Toronto Blues Society is enormous for leading the way to creating this national event and for being such gracious hosts. Special thanks to Brain Slack (Zeb Productions), Mark Neveu (Field Holler Productions), The Montreal Blues Society & Cordova Bay Records for making their presence felt at this years awards and for hosting the best pre and after parties a feller and his gal could wish to receive invitations to attend. You were wonderful and gracious hosts & hostesses too.
The continued and increased involvement of other blues societies, producers and presenters is integral to developing a truly representative and national voice for the MBA's. Kudos to all of you dear folks who, at no small expense to yourselves, have shown great dedication to creating a voice for the blues & its artists that are representative of a cross section of our nation, coast to coast.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that a total of around 2,000 votes nation wide decided this year's winners. I am confident that there are a great deal more folks in Canada who have an abiding interest in roots music whose input we need to garner. Let us all do our part to involve others we whom know that share our common passion.
Bill 'Mojo Willie' Rymer