The year always kicks off big on the blues calendar, so it’s no surprise that January 2013 is action-packed with international blues events. As we look ahead into the year, there are a few key dates that will certainly be cause for celebration at CBC Music.
The Maple Blues Awards, Jan. 19 to 21, is a big night for Canadian blues acts. Promoted by the Toronto Blues society, it pulls together the top players in the country. Blues Summit 6, a conference and showcase that happens once every two years, accompanies the 2013 awards weekend.
The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise leaves port from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 20 for a week around the Caribbean. This year, Canadians Ray Bonneville, MonkeyJunk and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne will be joining the all-star floating festival.
And to round out the month, kicking off on Jan. 29 is the International Blues Challenge. Acts from all over the world converge on Memphis, Tenn., to swap licks, growls and moans in a friendly competition that eventually, like most blues events, turns into a big jam session.
There are a few blues milestones coming up this year, to help make you feel a little older.
One of the most highly regarded axemen of the new generation of guitar slingers exploded onto the scene in 1983 with his debut album. Texas Flood, from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, marks its 30th anniversary this year. Though his career would last only seven short years after that release before his death in 1990, Vaughan changed the face of blues forever.
A direct result of Vaughan’s legacy was the career-launching of two of Canada’s foremost blues players, Jeff Healey and Colin James. Both artists released their debut albums 25 years ago, to huge acclaim.
Healey’s debut album, See the Light album yielded both “Confidence Man” and “Angel Eyes” as successful singles. It was the Jeff Healey Band’s work on the soundtrack to the Patrick Swayze film Roadhouse, however, that put Healey on the map in the U.S.
James’s self-titled debut album featured more than a few of the singles that are still getting regular spins on commercial pop radio. “Five Long Years,” "Voodoo Thing,” "Chicks 'n Cars (And the Third World War)” and “Why'd You Lie" all came out of the gate with the young guitar player 25 years ago. It’s understandable that a debut disc would fare so well, considering that producers Tom Dowd (Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers Band, Otis Redding) and Bob Rock (Bon Jovi, Payola$, Metallica) both had a hand in the final product.
Speaking of anniversaries, if you are a harmonica player, you probably have Lee Oskar to thank for keeping you well equipped. This year also marks 30 years since the Danish harp player started his signature line of harmonicas.
Elsewhere in the blues world in 2013, B.B. King makes some stops in Canada on his current tour. Specifically, look for dates in B.C. in March. Eric Clapton is on the road this year as well, but it’ll help to be in the States or Europe to take advantage.
As the blues milestones come and go, we at CBC Music will keep you well informed.
Official Jeff Healey website
Upcoming Canadian releases : a CBC Music guide for 2013
Top 5 blues albums of 2012
Saturday Night Blues’s best Canadian blues albums of 2012