Sunday, January 21, 2018

"Blue Metamorphosis" Recognized Rightly, But its not the Norm at the Blues Foundation

"Life is the blues. Not necessarily all good. Not necessarily all bad. It's a feeling that can't be faked." - Jontavious Willis - His first recorded album, Blue Metamorphosis, first became available on his website. He's also got Jock Webb on there, which should have an effect similar to telling Jules from Pulp Fiction that Winston Wolf is coming. Do you feel better about grabbing a copy of his debut knowing about the appearance of Jock Webb? [grinning] "Shit, yeah! That's all you had to say!"
A few years ago, Jock Webb walked on stage in Memphis and won the International Blues Challenge (IBC), but he got straight up mugged by the judges as he walked off the stage.  The IBC regained a small amount of its integrity in 2018 when it made a correct decision and handed the...

Award for Best Self-Produced CD to Jontavious Willis for his debut album, Blue Metamorphosis!

The album was always deserving of an award, and I sincerely congratulate my friend on the production of such a high-quality debut.  Perhaps most responsible for the IBC award was the Atlanta Blues Society, for it was almost certainly their nomination that put the freshmen recording effort in the race in the first place.  We know that the IBC made the right decision about this award--what a refreshing, yet unfortunately novel, concept that should be done for all awards in the future.

A Disturbing Development Revealed

Acting on the concerns of Jock Webb, and after conducting a little research into the history of the awards, the MZMF has discovered a disturbing development.  Since the inception of the awards at the Blues Foundation, each of them had been given in a specific category and each award had been given on the basis of merit.  Beginning in 2016, this policy changed, and the following examination of a single award for "Historic Preservation" will illuminate this problem.

The Historic Preservation Award had always been a very important as part of the Keeping the Blues Alive Awards, having gone almost every year to a major leader or institution involved in the blues.  In 2016, the Blues Foundation did away with this important award in favor of doling out awards to those who lobby a local blues society for a nomination.  It has already given out awards to at least one undeserving individual, and the Blues Foundation needs to return to its former standard of awarding excellence as opposed to existence.

Historic Preservation Award Recipients since 1981

David Evans in 1981

Sid Graves in 1989

Bob Koester, Delmark Records in 1990 

Larry Cohn, Roots N’ Blues Series, Columbia Records - 1991

Center for Southern Folklore - 1993

Skip Henderson (founder of the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund) - 1995

Delta Blues Museum - 1996

Blues Archive at University of Mississippi - 1997

David Sanjek–New York, NY - 1998

Yazoo Records - 1999

Maxwell Street Historical Preservation Coalition - 2000

Johnny Parth of Document Records - 2001

Blue Heaven Studios & Revenant Records and John Fahey - 2002

Nuthin’ But The Blues - 2003

Europas Blues Senter, Nottoden, Norway - 2004

Music Maker Relief Foundation, Hillsborough, NC - 2005

River Museum Experience – Davenport, IA - 2006

Howlin’ Wolf Blues Society, West Point, MS - 2007

Mississippi Blues Commission and MDA, Division of Tourism, Jackson, MS - 2008

Shack Up Inn, Clarksdale, MS - 2009

Eric Leblanc, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada - 2010

Canada South Blues Museum – Windsor, Ontario, Canada - 2011

No Award in 2012

Shelley Ritter – Clarksdale, Mississippi - 2013

George Mitchell – Fort Myers, Florida - 2014

Guido van Rijn Overveen, The Netherlands - 2015

In 2016, the Blues Foundation quit handing out the specific award for historic preservation and started handing out awards to anyone who was nominated by a member organization. 

Feature Story


By Bill Ellis -  The (Memphis, TN) Commercial Appeal - May 16, 1998. Click HERE to help us honor Charlie Burse and Clean Up Rose Hill C...