Minnesota Blues Society

Honoring the Musicians, Composers, Authors and Individuals Who Have Made a Historical Contribution, Impact and Overall Influence on the Blues in the State of Minnesota.

3rd Annual MN Blues Hall of Fame Ceremony (2009)

October 11, 2009 • Famous Dave's, Minneapolis, MN

Review by Nancy Walton

The Greater Twin Cities Blues Music Society celebrated the 3rd annual Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame on October 11, 2009. The event was held at Famous Dave's BBQ & Blues in Calhoun Square, Minneapolis. The atmosphere was festive as people filtered in to fill the tables surrounding the stage.

At 4 p.m., The Brothers Curtis got the party off to a roaring start with blues from the Mississippi Headwaters. Curtis Marlatt and Curtis Blake played a lively set with my particular favorite of "You Know I Love You" which was definitely strutting music.

While the Brothers played, Blues Hall of Fame T-shirts with a great guitar logo were sold and the bidding began on the silent auction items donated by members and other supporters of the Society. The scent of brisket and pulled pork filled the air as dinners were ordered and devoured and drinks poured.

At 5 p.m., the induction ceremony began with Harold Tremblay serving as Emcee. He reminded the crowd that the cut-off date for the nominations for the 2010 Hall of Fame is October 31, 2009.

The first category was "Supportive of the Blues" and the voting had resulted in a tie. Harold announced that Ray Stiles of the Blues on Stage Website would share the category with Lolly Obeda of the KFAI Sugar Shop.

Kurt Koehler talked about the contributions of Ray Stiles in support of the Blues. He spoke on behalf of Tom Asp, who joined Kurt and Ray towards the end of the presentation. Kurt read a note from Ray's 90-year-old father expressing his pride in his son's achievement. Ray accepted his award and shared stories that filled the room with laughter.

Sara Oxton described her 20+ years' association with Lolly Obeda at KFAI and honored her for the support that she provides to the Blues musical community. She expressed her appreciation for Lolly's "depth of feeling, expression and honesty."

The second nomination category was for Blues "Literature." James Pinckney talked about Kurt Koehler and the "Twin Cities Blues News." James said that Kurt is "not a whiner, he's a doer" and the "News" are an archive of Twin Cities Blues history, especially the interviews of Blues performers.

The third category was for "Blues Recording" which was received by Willie Murphy and the Bumblebees for "Honey from the Bee." John Beach presented the award to Willie. John Beach, Jerome Broughtfon, Howard Merriweather, Eugene Hoffman and Maurice Jacox also received smaller star trophies. They celebrated the memory of Voyle Harris, now deceased. Willie and his band members shared stories of the recording session for the song which was made 35 years ago in a studio "in the woods."

The fourth category was for "Blues Song" which was received for "Upper Mississippi Shakedown" by Bruce McCabe and Pat Hayes. Rico Anderson presented the award and said that Bruce had driven in just before the ceremony from Lincoln, Nebraska. Bruce talked about the history of the song and said that the song was "all about having fun." Pat was unable to be at the ceremony.

The fifth and final category was for "Blues Performer" which was won by the late and always-missed Lazy Bill Lucas. Papa John Kolstad entertained the crowd with stories of his musical adventures with Lazy Bill. Papa John presented a check for $100 to Tommy Burns for the KFAI Lazy Bill Memorial Fund in memory of the Blues artist.

The party continued with music provided by Mississippi Driftwood with John Beach, Tom Burns, Larry Hayes and Jon Norstad as they celebrated their former roles as the Lazy Bill Lucas band members. Dancers started filling up the dance floor as people shared memories, laughter and thoughts of those who are gone but not forgotten. Several of us enjoyed watching a little boy who stood on the sidelines and was enraptured by the guitarist. We were reassured by the charming sight that another generation is growing up in the Blues tradition.

To the delight of the crowd, holding court at one of the tables was Sugar Pie De Santo. She dropped by the festivities before her show at the Dakota. Sugar Pie's long career includes several years with Chess Records and tours with such legends as Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, Hubert Sumlin, Sunnyland Slim and James Brown. She sparkled in the dimmed lighting with a wonderful sequined baseball cap that befitted the "Queen of the West Coast Blues."

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