BMAs: Sweet news for Sugar Ray and the Bluetones

Sugar Ray and the Bluetones
Sugar Ray and the Bluetones are up for 10 Blues Music Awards

The 2017 Blues Music Awards should be sweet as Sugar Ray Norcia, and no matter what happens, Toronzo Cannon won’t quit his day job.

Sugar Ray and the Bluetones have entertained music lovers for more than 40 years, but somehow a Blues Music Award has not been included in the bandleader’s illustrious career. That just might change on May 11, when the hardware is awarded at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis. Norcia and his bandmates received 10 BMA nominations, the Blues Foundation announced today.

Cannon, who previously had just one BMA nomination, received four this year — Album, Contemporary Blues Album, Song and Contemporary Blues Male Artist Of The Year.

Marilyn Stringer / Alligator Records
Tornonzo Cannon has reached new heights with his first album with Alligator Records, “The Chicago Way.”
Photo by Marilyn Stringer / Alligator Records

A bus driver for the city of Chicago, Cannon works four 10-hour shifts driving the No. 20 Madison route through several tax brackets from downtown to the west side of Chicago. He said his daily observations inspire songwriting.

Although Cannon’s debut on Alligator Records, “The Chicago Way,” could garner multiple BMAs, he has no plans to stop driving the bus.

“I need health benefits,” he told the online music magazine Tahoe Onstage last year. “I don’t want my daughter to suffer just because Daddy is trying to be a blues star. I’m not going to be a starving artist.”

Soul singer Bobby Rush, 83, also received multiple nominations: Soul Blues Male Artist, Album and Soul Blues Album for “Porcupine Meat” and Historic Album, “Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush.”

Kenny Neal, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was nominated for Contemporary Blues Male Artist and also is in the running for Contemporary Blues Album and Album for “Bloodline.”

R&B singer Curtis Salgado, of Portland, Oregon, is up for Soul Blues Male Artist, Soul Blues Album (“The Beautiful Lowdown”) and Song (“Walk a Mile in My Blues”).

Hill country bluesman Luther Dickinson was nominated for Acoustic Album and Acoustic Artist for “Blues and Ballads (A Folksinger’s Songbook) Vol I and II,” a collection of stripped down arrangements of his greatest and most influential songs of his career.

Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, which has backed up Ronnie Earl and legends such as Big Mama Thornton and Big Walter Horton, are poised to get their just desserts. Here’s the long list of nominations for Sugar Ray and the Bluetones: B.B. King Entertainer, Traditional Blues Male Artist, Band, Song, Album, and Traditional Album for “Seeing is Believing,” and Instrument — Harmonica (Norcia), Guitar (Monster Mike Welch), Bass (Michael “Mudcat” Grant) Pinetop Perkins Piano (Anthony Geraci).

Another veteran harp player who has yet to win a BMA for Instrument, Mark Hummel, was nominated for the honor for what he estimated for the sixth time. His 4-year-old band Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue was nominated for Band and Traditional Blues Album. Sacramento’s R.W. Grigsby, who plays with the band, was nominated for the first time for Instrumentalist-Bass.

Related story: Mark Hummel’s most adventurous tour. LINK

Here is the complete list of nominees:

Acoustic Album
Doug MacLeod – Live in Europe
Eric Bibb – The Happiest Man in the World
Fiona Boyes – Professin’ the Blues
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – Live at Briggs Farm
John Long – Stand Your Ground
Luther Dickinson – Blues and Ballads (A Folksinger’s Songbook) Vol I and II

Acoustic Artist
Doug MacLeod
Eric Bibb
Fiona Boyes
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes
Luther Dickinson

Kenny Neal played the Genoa Blues Festival in July. Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Kenny Neal played the Genoa Blues Festival in July.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Bobby Rush – Porcupine Meat
Kenny Neal – Bloodline
Nick Moss Band – From the Root to the Fruit
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones – Seeing is Believing
Toronzo Cannon – The Chicago Way
William Bell – This Is Where I Live

Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue
Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials
Nick Moss Band
Sugar Ray and the Bluetones
Tedeschi Trucks Band

B.B. King Entertainer
Joe Bonamassa
John Nemeth
Lil’ Ed Williams
Sugar Ray Norcia
Sugaray Rayford

Tim Parsons
Luther Dickinson played with his band the North Mississippi Allstars at the High Sierra Music Festival.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Best Emerging Artist Album
Corey Dennison Band – Corey Dennison
Guy King – Truth
Jonn Del Toro Richardson – Tengo Blues
Terrie Odabi – My Blue Soul
Thornetta Davis – Honest Woman

Contemporary Blues Album
Al Basile – Mid Century Modern
Kenny Neal – Bloodline
Nick Moss Band – From the Root to the Fruit
The Record Company – Give It Back To You
Toronzo Cannon – The Chicago Way

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Alexis P Suter
Ana Popovic
Janiva Magness
Shemekia Copeland
Susan Tedeschi

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Albert Castiglia
Kenny Neal
Mike Zito
Sugaray Rayford
Toronzo Cannon

Historical Album
Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, A Music Man Like Nobody Ever Saw, Bear Family Records
B.B. King, More B.B. King: Here’s One You Haven’t Heard, Ace Records
Bobby Rush, Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush, Omnivore Recordings
Michael Burks, I’m A Bluesman, Iron Man Records
Pinetop Perkins & Jimmy Rogers, Genuine Blues Legends, Elrob Records

R.W. Grigsby of the Golden State Lone Star Revue.
R.W. Grigsby of Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue.

Biscuit Miller
Bob Stroger
Michael “Mudcat” Ward
Patrick Rynn
R W Grigsby

Cedric Burnside
Jimi Bott
June Core
Tom Hambridge
Tony Braunagel

Bob Margolin
Joe Bonamassa
Kid Andersen
Monster Mike Welch
Ronnie Earl

Dennis Gruenling
Jason Ricci
Kim Wilson
Mark Hummel
Sugar Ray Norcia

Al Basile
Nancy Wright
Sax Gordon Beadle
Terry Hanck
Vanessa Collier

Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female Artist)
Annika Chambers
Diunna Greenleaf
Inetta Visor
Shaun Murphy
Trudy Lynn

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Terry Hanck

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Anthony Geraci
Barrelhouse Chuck
Henry Gray
Jim Pugh
Victor Wainwright

Rock Blues Album
Albert Castiglia – Big Dog
Mike Zito – Keep Coming Back
Moreland & Arbuckle – Promised Land or Bust
Tedeschi Trucks Band – Let Me Get By
Walter Trout – Alive in Amsterdam

“Blues Immigrant” written by Matthew Skoller & Vincent Bucher and performed by Matthew Skoller on Blues Immigrant
“I Gotta Sang The Blues” written and performed by Thornetta Davis on Honest Woman
“Seeing Is Believing” written by Ray Norcia and performed by Sugar Ray & The Bluetones on Seeing Is Believing
“Walk A Mile In My Blues” written by David Duncan, Curtis Salgado & Mike Finigan and performed by Curtis Salgado on The Beautiful Lowdown
“Walk it Off” written and performed by Toronzo Cannon on The Chicago Way

Soul Blues Album
Bobby Rush – Porcupine Meat
Curtis Salgado – The Beautiful Lowdown
Johnny Rawls – Tiger in a Cage
Wee Willie Walker – Live! Notodden Blues Festival
William Bell – This Is Where I Live

Soul Blues Female Artist
Bettye Lavette
Lara Price
Mavis Staples
Terrie Odabi
Vaneese Thomas

Soul Blues Male Artist
Bobby Rush
Curtis Salgado
Johnny Rawls
Wee Willie Walker
William Bell

Bob Margolin, "My Road"Traditional Blues Album
Big Jon Atkinson & Bob Corritore – House Party at Big Jon’s
Bob Margolin – My Road
Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue – Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue
Lurrie Bell – Can’t Shake This Feeling
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones – Seeing is Believing

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Bob Margolin
John Primer
Lil’ Ed Williams
Lurrie Bell
Sugar Ray Norcia

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.


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