Toronto Blues Society’s 20th Annual Maple Blues Awards handed out January 23, 2017

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Canadian blues artists from coast-to-coast were honoured by their peers at the 20th Annual Maple Blues Awards gala in Toronto on January 23, 2017 as a crowd of blues lovers gathered to celebrate Canadian blues at Koerner Hall.

Quebec blues artists swept the awards with honours going to trio The Paul DesLauriers Band who won Entertainer of the Year, Electric Act of the Year, Drummer of the Year for Sam Harrisson, and Bassist of the Year for Greg Morency. Blues belter Angel Forrest took home three awards including Female Vocalist of the Year, Recording/Producer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. The Blues With A Feeling Award for lifetime achievement was awarded to Stephen Barry, who has been a fixture on the Quebec blues scene for over 40 years. Montreal-based Frankie Thiffault of Ben Racine Band took home the hardware for Horn Player of the Year.

British Columbia blues artists were well recognized with awards going to David Gogo for Guitarist of the Year, Harpdog Brown for Harmonica Player of the Year and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne for Piano or Keyboard Player of the Year.

Other winners at the sold-out gala event were Manitoba’s Big Dave McLean for Acoustic Act of the Year, Ontario’s 17-year old newcomer Spencer MacKenzie for New Artist or Group of the Year, New Brunswick’s Matt Andersen for Male Vocalist of the Year, and Joe Bonamassa for International Artist of the Year.

Edmonton’s Cam Hayden, a long-time broadcaster on CKUA and co-founder of the Edmonton Blues Festival was presented with the Blues Booster of the Year award, a very special Maple Blues Award honouring outstanding contribution to the Canadian blues music industry.

In addition to the Maple Blues Awards, the third annual Cobalt Prize Contemporary Blues Composition Award was handed out last night to Ann Vriend for her song “All That I Can”, with runners up Michael Kaeshammer for his song “Sweet Grace” and The Harpoonist And The Axe Murderer for their song “Father’s Son”. A cash prize of $1000 was presented to Vriend with second and third place winners each receiving $250, courtesy of the benefactor The Unicorn Project.

Hosted by Steve Marriner of MonkeyJunk, the 20th annual Maple Blues Awards included outstanding performances from nominees past and present, including Calgary’s Tim Williams, Toronto’s Sugar Brown and Shakura S’Aida, British Columbia’s Michael Kaeshammer and the evening’s big winners, The Paul DesLauriers Band along with the awards gala house band, The Maple Blues Band.

Winners of the 20th Annual Maple Blues Awards:

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
The Paul DesLauriers Band

ELECTRIC ACT OF THE YEAR
The Paul DesLauriers Band

ACOUSTIC ACT OF THE YEAR
Big Dave McLean

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Matt Andersen

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Angel Forrest

NEW ARTIST OR GROUP OF THE YEAR
Spencer MacKenzie

RECORDING/PRODUCER OF THE YEAR
Angel’s 11 (Morningstar) Artist: Angel Forrest. Producers: Angel Forrest and Denis Coulombe

BLUES WITH A FEELING (Lifetime Achievement)
Stephen Barry

B.B. KING INTERNATIONAL ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Joe Bonamassa

GUITARIST OF THE YEAR
David Gogo

HARMONICA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Harpdog Brown

PIANO/KEYBOARD PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne

HORN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Frankie Thiffault

DRUMMER OF THE YEAR
Sam Harrisson

BASSIST OF THE YEAR
Greg Morency

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
Angel Forrest & Denis Coulombe

BLUES BOOSTER OF THE YEAR
Cam Hayden

David Gogo won Guitarist of the Year at the 20th Annual Maple Blues Awards held in Toronto on January 22, 2017. (Photo Submitted)

Spencer MacKenzie won New Artist or Group of the Year at the 20th Annual Maple Blues Awards held in Toronto on January 22, 2017. (Photo Credit: Joel Naphin)

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