Keeping the Blues Alive


November 25, 2003


The Keeping the Blues Alive Awards

Memphis, TN - Seventeen dedicated blues enthusiasts will receive The Blues Foundation's 2004 Keeping The Blues Alive (KBA) Award during a recognition brunch on Saturday,

January 31, 2004 in Memphis Tennessee. Bob Porter, host of the syndicated blues radio program "Portrait in Blue," will host the awards. The KBA ceremony is part of the BluesFirst weekend of events that also includes the culmination of the 20th International Blues Challenge competition and seminars, presentations and receptions for blues societies, fans and professionals.

The KBA Awards are given each year to individuals and organizations that have contributed greatly to the growth and vitality of blues music. Recipients from the non-performing world range from blues societies and clubs to corporate sponsors and radio personalities, as well as writers and educators. A committee of professional blues industry representatives, historians, and artists chooses the KBA Award recipients annually through a comprehensive selection process.

This year's Keeping the Blues Alive Award recipients are:

Advertising and Sponsor - Volkswagen

Art - George Hunt, Memphis, TN

Blues Club - Theodores’, Steve Walbridge, Springfield, MA

Blues Organization - Suncoast Blues Society, Tampa Bay, FL

Education - Alabama Blues Project, East Tuscaloosa, AL

Film American Folk Blues Festival, 1962-66, Vol. 1 and 2; David Peck & Jon Kanis, Reelin’ In The Years Productions, San Diego, CA and John McDermott & Janie Hendrix, Experience Hendrix, Seattle, WA

Historic Preservation - European Blues Senter, Nottoden, Norway

Internet - BluesWax, Des Moines, IA

Journalism - Jeff Johnson, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago, IL

Literature - Sterling Plumpp, Chicago, IL

Manager/Agent - Bonnie Tallman, BC Productions Artist Management, Hughesville, PA

Print Media - Southland Blues, Los Angeles, CA

Producer - Duke Robillard, Pawtucket, RI

Promoter - Chris Mackey, Bayfront Blues Festival, Duluth MN

Radio (Commercial) - Andre Mosqueda, KGGO, Des Moines, IA

Radio (Public) - Robert Barclay, WCMU, Mt. Pleasant, MI

Record Label - Delmark, Bob Koester, Chicago, IL

BluesFirst weekend, commencing Thursday, January 29, 2004, is sponsored by Budweiser, King Biscuit Time magazine, and Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise as gold sponsors, XM Satellite Radio as a silver sponsor, and Gibson Guitars and Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau as Bronze sponsors.

The Blues Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving blues music, celebrating blues excellence and supporting blues education. It is the umbrella organization for a worldwide network of 100 affiliated blues societies and has individual memberships around the world. In addition to the Keeping the Blues Alive Awards, the foundation produces the W.C. Handy Blues Awards, the Blues Hall of Fame Induction and the International Blues Challenge.

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2004 Keeping the Blues Alive Award Recipients


Advertising and Sponsor


Volkswagen was the primary sponsor of Martin Scorsese’s PBS film, “The Blues,” which aimed to raise awareness of the blues, and celebrate its influence in America and around the world.  Volkswagen also provided major funding for "The Blues," thirteen, hour-long programs radio series for the Public Radio International stations nationwide, and the Teacher’s guide which accompanied the film series and was mailed to high schools across America. In addition, the accompanying ad campaign utilized various blues themes such as Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” as a background.


George Hunt, Memphis, TN

George Hunt has dedicated over 30 years of painting to the blues. His work, which can be seen on Beale Street includes 13 posters for the Beale Street Music Festival, 22 portraits for the Blues & Legends Hall of Fame Museum, and 26 new works for the Year of the Blues tour. His work hangs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in the White House.

Blues Club

Theodores’ and promoter Steve Walbridge, Springfield, MA

The club opened its doors to live music in 1979, but when Steve Walbridge suggested booking Anson and Sam in 1993, Theodore’s discovered the soul of a blues club. Since then, it has successfully promoted live blues every Friday and Saturday night featuring every major touring blues band in the country. It hosts weekly blues jams and co-sponsors free summer blues concerts in Springfield’s club district for the past four years. The mark of this club’s reputation is how often these musicians return year after year. The club, now owned by Keith Weppler and Keith Makarowski, serves the finest barbecue north of Memphis and boasts walls of original murals of blues performers past and present. 

Blues Organization

Suncoast Blues Society, Tampa Bay, FL

The Suncoast Blues Society boasts an active membership of over 1,000 avid blues fans. In addition to its Blues in Schools and Blues in Library initiatives, the society spearheads donations to local charities and sponsored blues concerts which have raised over $9,000 in two shows for the new building fund for local WNMF Community Radio. The society also awards grants to music students in three area school systems. Anyone who attends festivals or shows in the Tampa area has certainly felt the enormous presence of the Suncoast Blues Society.


Alabama Blues Project Tuscaloosa, AL

Founded in 1995, the Alabama Blues Project, under the directorship of Debbie Bond, has created a series of blues education programs that have reached thousands of students of all ages. In addition to the in school programs and artist residencies, the Alabama Blues Project also offers a Summertime Blues Camp and after-school programs for at-risk students. These programs combine hands-on blues music with a life-skills curriculum to foster self esteem, cultural diversity and self-expression. Bonnie Raitt, the Alabama State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment, has enthusiastically endorsed the Project for the Humanities.


The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-66, Volume 1 and 2

One of the most significant blues releases of all-time was released this year with The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966.  Lovingly produced by David Peck & Jon Kanis of Reelin’ In The Years Productions, along with John McDermott & Janie Hendrix of Experience Hendrix, this two volume DVD (and accompanying audio CD) is a treasure trove of previously unearthed performances filmed in Germany during these famed tours; featuring stunning footage of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Memphis Slim, T-Bone Walker, Otis Rush, Junior Wells and many others captured in their prime.  RITY’s producers have spent the last decade archiving and preserving music performance footage from the last 50 years.  Reelin’ In The Years Productions is achieving its goal of sharing as many of these gems with the public as possible, as well as making sure that all of the artists (or their estates) involved receive royalties for their work.

Historic Preservation

European Blues Senter, Notodden, Norway

The Senter, founded in 1998, documents, preserves and makes available public and historical material related to the blues. Until the Senter is built, the Senter is currently located in the Notodden Library. Here, one feels like one is standing in the middle of the Mississippi Delta. As a sister city to Clarkesdale, Notodden honors Delta blues roots. The photos, exhibitions and memorabilia the Senter collected is a wealth of blues history for any fan. The new building will also house conference facilities, recording studios, a blues club, and permanent blues exhibitions.


BluesWax, Des Moines, IA

Since BluesWax began distributing its free, internet-based magazine in 2000, Publisher Chip Eagle and Founding Editor Don “T-Bone” Erickson have attracted over 70,000 subscribers and published over 150 issues. The on-line weekly ‘zine brings you interviews, feature articles, editorials, concert & fest reviews, CD & DVD reviews, book reviews, photos, and a fun blues trivia quiz for a chance at cool prizes. The ‘zine also includes blues news as it happens, keeping readers up-to-date on current events and items of interest. 


Jeff Johnson, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago, IL

Jeff writes about blues for the Chicago Sun-Times, where he works as a copy editor in the Features Department. His love and knowledge of the music has translated into feature stories and album reviews for countless blues artists in one of the nation's most highly circulated newspapers. Any blues fan that has traveled to the Windy City on a blues pilgrimage has read Jeff’s passionate work.


Sterling Plumpp

When Mississippi-born Sterling Plumpp discovered blues poetry as his voice, his work flowed. Born in 1940, he has published many volumes of poetry, each with special emphasis on the blues. His collections of poems include The Mojo Hands Call, I Must Go, which won the Carl Sandburg Award for poetry in 1983; Blues, The Story Always Untold, published in 1989; Hornman published in 1996; and the autobiographical, Johannesburg & Other Poems, published in 1993. In addition, Plumpp has had numerous poems published in Living Blues magazine. His poems always capture the images and rhythms of blues and jazz as they illuminate the African-American landscape. Plumpp was an associate professor of African American studies and English at the University of Illinois in Chicago since 1971.


Bonnie Tallman, BT Productions Artist Management, Hughesville, PA

When Bonnie Tallman formed her BC Production Artist Management in the late 1990's, she approached Saffire to be her first client. From there, Bonnie has gone on to work with Ann Rabson, Greg Piccolo, Bob Margolin, Big Bill Morganfield, and E. G. Kight. Every phone call Bonnie makes or e-mail Bonnie writes has the success of her artist uppermost. The level of respect and integrity she brings to her dealings with club owners directly reflects in the demand for her artists.

Print Media

Southland Blues, Los Angeles, CA

Southland Blues has been publishing monthly for 14 years. The 40 pages cover artist profiles, CD reviews, festival reviews and the most extensive calendar of upcoming blues shows throughout the West Coast. Before anyone travels to LA or SF, he or she should check Southland Blues to find where Rod Piazza or James Harman will be playing. Southland Blues has kept many blues fans not living in Southern California up to date on that scene.



Duke Robillard

We all know Duke Robillard as the founder of Roomful of Blues or the W.C. Handy Guitarist of the Year, but Robillard has also become one of the most sought-after producers in the blues. He has served as the producer on recent discs by Billy Boy Arnold, Gordon Beadle, Zuzu Bollin, Eddy Clearwater, Debbie Davies, Roscoe Gordon, John Hammond, Doug James, Jay McShann, Jerry Portnoy, Toni Lynn Washington and Jimmy Witherspoon, as well as his own albums. Whenever you see a CD and Duke Robillard is listed as producer, you can be sure the music was recorded with passion and respect.


Chris Mackey, Bayfront Blues Festival, Duluth MN

What began in the rain in 1989 has grown to three days, multiple stages and close to 50,000 people listening to blues on the shore of Lake Superior. Through a dedicated effort to book older, traditional blues bands and the top contemporary blues bands in the country, Mackey continually showcases an all-star line-up. Artists and booking agents alike have only good things to say about this top American blues festival. As a result of the festival's past success, Mackey plans to add a fourth day of music in 2004.

Radio (Commercial)

Andre Mosqueda, KGGO, Des Moines, IA

Andre has been a Sunday morning fixture in Des Moines on KGGO for many years. Since he began his Sunday morning Roadhouse in 1996, expanded to four hours in 2000, Andre has given his listeners reason to get up early every Sunday. His dedication to the blues along with his interviews with blues artists are a valued source of entertainment and information for his many loyal fans as well as the local club owners whose rooms his show always helps to fill.

Radio (Public)

Robert Barclay, WCMU, Mount Pleasant, MI

Robert Barclay has been hosting "The Juke Joint" radio show for over 18 years across central and northern Michigan. The format Barclay employs during his three-hour broadcast is both educational and entertaining. Usually his shows focus on a theme:  a blues style, an artist's career profile, or a record label's history. A professional photographer for 25 years, he travels to festivals and club gigs photographing blues artists and field-taping interviews to bring the artist's voice back to his Michigan audiences.

Record Label

Delmark, Chicago, IL

This year, Delmark Records celebrated its 50th year. Founded initially as a traditional jazz label by Bob Koester, the label began recording blues within three years of its birth. During the 1960’s, Koester helped pioneer the making of contemporary blues records. In the face of today’s economic climate, Delmark continues to successfully record the real deal, traditional Chicago blues.