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From the desk of Michael Freeman
Dear Blues Friends,

 This past weekend, as I presided over the quarterly meeting of the Blues Foundation Board of Directors, one of our key agenda items was The International Blues Challenge. I am writing to share with our blues community that our Board voted unanimously to cancel this years' IBC and look ahead to the first quarter of 2022 when we can hopefully come together in person to celebrate the blues via this signature Blues Foundation event.

 Leading up to this Board decision, we wrote expanded rules that would have allowed our affiliated blues societies to choose their challengers outside of a live judged event. In response, many have reported back to us that they and the musicians in their communities are not enthusiastic about proceeding. It has become clear to us that without full engagement of artists, industry, blues society leadership, and fans, we could not produce an event with the musical diversity and quality you have come to expect. After much discussion and careful consideration of all options, including a virtual IBC, we universally agreed that this special and unique Blues Foundation program is meant to be experienced live and that it would not be safe or feasible to attempt to produce it this winter in the midst of a pandemic. The Board concurrently voted to suspend nominations and selection of Keeping the Blues Alive Award recipients until the fall of 2021, with plans to honor those selected during the 2022 IBC Week, where they can be celebrated in person with their family and friends surrounding them.

 We recognize that the International Blues Challenge has grown in scope and recognition throughout the world, and we do not want to leave a vacuum in its absence this year. Please be assured that we will be using the time and resources normally directed towards the IBC to develop unique content and virtual activities for this winter. This is not intended to replace the IBC, but to give the blues world and our membership a way to remain connected as we all continue to heal through this pandemic that has uprooted so many of our plans and our lives.

 While we will miss coming together on Beale Street this January, we choose to see this as an opportunity to expand our mission in new ways. We are hopeful that open travel, live music, and the ability to congregate in-person will quickly be safe again, and I encourage you to save the dates for the 37th International Blues Challenge – February 1st through February 5th, 2022.

Please stay safe and be well,
Michael Freeman


The Common Ground music festival has been postponed to 2021 due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be the first summer in 21 years that Common Ground has not been held, organizers stated. The concerts have been rescheduled to July 9-10, 2021. Anyone who has already purchased tickets can roll their tickets over or request a refund. Instructions on both options will be emailed to people who purchased tickets.

Blink-182 will still headline the festival, and organizers are working to reschedule other artists, organizers said. This would have been the first year Common Ground was held entirely at Cooley Law School Stadium. In past years, the festival was spread over several days at Adado Riverfront Park. Nelly, The Used, Grandson, The Legal Immigrants, Baby Bash, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Juvenile were booked to perform this year at the festival.

National News and Beyond

Blues Blast Music Award fan voting results announced
More than 10,000 Blues Blast Magazine readers voted in the 202 Blues Blast Music Awards. The winners in the fan voting are listed below. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

13th Annual Blues Blast Music Award Winners

Contemporary Blues Album Christone "Kingfish" Ingram - Kingfish

Traditional Blues Album The Nick Moss Band Featuring Dennis Gruenling - Lucky Guy

Soul Blues Album Bobby Rush - Sitting on Top of the Blues

Rock Blues Album Coco Montoya - Coming In Hot

Acoustic Blues Album Bob Margolin - This Guitar & Tonight

Live Blues Album Albert Castiglia - Wild and Free

Historical Or Vintage Recording Johnny Shines - The Blues Came Falling Down - Live 1973

New Artist Debut Album Sister Lucile - Alive

Blues Band B.B. King Blues Band

Male Blues Artist Christone "Kingfish" Ingram

Female Blues Artist Beth Hart Sean Costello Rising Star Award The Mary Jo Curry Band

Bryan Lee Known as the 'Braille Blues Daddy" has Passed

Bryan Lee (March 16, 1943 – August 21, 2020) was an American blues guitarist and singer based in New Orleans. He was also known by the nickname braille blues daddy and was a fixture on Bourbon Street since the 1980s.

Lee was born on March 16, 1943 in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and completely lost his eyesight by the age of eight. His avid interest in early rock and blues was fostered through the 1950s by late night listening sessions via the Nashville-based radio station WLAC-AM, where he first encountered the sounds of Elmore James, Albert King and Albert Collins.

By his late teens, Lee was playing rhythm guitar in a regional band called The Glaciers that covered Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry material. Through the 1960s, Lee's interest turned to Chicago blues and he soon found himself immersed in that scene, opening for some of his boyhood heroes. In 1979 he released his first album named Beauty Isn't Always Visual.

In January 1982, Lee moved to New Orleans, eventually landing a steady gig on Bourbon Street becoming a favorite of tourists in the city's French Quarter. For the next 14 years, Lee and his Jump Street Five played five nights a week on Burbon Street developing a huge following and a solid reputation.

To the end of his life, Lee continued to perform in New Orleans. He also toured several times a year in the Midwest, Eastern Seaboard, Rocky Mountain States and recently Europe and Brazil. Lee appeared with Kenny Wayne Shepherd as the musical guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on February 14, 2007.

Blues Guitarist Peter Green, Co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, Has Passed

Blues guitarist Peter Green, a co-founder of the band Fleetwood Mac, died at the age of 73 on July 25, 2020.

Representatives of Green's family on Saturday stated, "It is with great sadness that the family of Peter Green announces his death this weekend peacefully in his sleep.”

Green was known for his blues guitar sound even prior to the forming of Fleetwood Mac. He replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers in 1965. In 1967, Green and fellow Bluesbreakers members, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, formed Fleetwood Mac, along with guitarist Jeremy Spencer.

Green's direction can be heard on the group's early albums including their self-titled debut in 1968. He wrote "Albatross," the groups only No. 1 hit on the United Kingdom's singles chart. Green was also behind "Oh Well," "Man of the World," and "Black Magic Woman," the last of which Santana popularized with a cover version.

Green left the band in 1970 following a period of erratic behavior and drug use. His behavior was later diagnosed as schizophrenia and he was hospitalized for some time. Green returned to music in the late '70s, composing and recording albums on his own.
Green was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, alongside seven other members of Fleetwood Mac.

In February, before the coronavirus shut down large scale gatherings, Mick Fleetwood held a tribute concert for Green in London, featuring a lineup of artists who were influenced by Green's work.

Fleetwood told Rolling Stone that he put the tribute concert together because "I wanted people to know that I did not form this band — Peter Green did. And I wanted to celebrate those early years of Fleetwood Mac, which started this massive ball that went down the road over the last 50 years."

                          Roy Head, ’60s Rocker Known for ‘Treat Her Right,’ Dies at 79

Roy Head, the rocker known for his 1965 smash “Treat Her Right,” died Monday September 21 2020 at his home in Texas. He was 79.

Head was born in Three Rivers, Texas, and achieved fame as a member of a musical group from San Marcos, known as The Traits. The group's sponsor landed their first recording contract in 1958 with TNT Music in San Antonio while they were still in high school. The Traits performed and recorded in the rockabilly, rock and roll and rhythm and blues musical styles from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s. Head is best known for the 1965 blue-eyed soul international hit, "Treat Her Right", recorded by Roy Head and the Traits. After going solo, Head landed several hits on the country and western charts between 1975 and 1985. During his career of some 50 years, he has performed in several different musical genres and used a somewhat confusing array of record labels, some too small to provide for national marketing and distribution. Roy Head and the Traits held reunions in 2001 and 2007 and were inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2007.

“Treat Her Right” reached No. 2 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B chart in 1965; the rave-up was kept out of the top pop spot only by the Beatles’ “Yesterday.” The song was popularized again last year by Quentin Tarantino’s use of it for the credit sequence music in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” It was also featured in the 1991 film “The Commitments.”

Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top paid tribute to Head as a “rock ’n’ soul phenomenon who had been one of our early and continuing inspirations. Roy will always be remembered for his music, his drive and the fact that, as he liked to put it, he was most happy when he was ‘a-wigglin’ and a-gigglin’.”

Besides being a credible blue-eyed-soul stylist, Head was known for gyrations and dance steps in his performances that could arguably leave Elvis Presley in the dust and rival the best moves of James Brown.

Head claimed that he had been kicked off a tour by Brown for being too good a dancer. “In a way, it was kind of a compliment, because I was burnin’,” he said. “(Brown) had always been my idol, and I was awed just being on three shows with him.”

After “Treat Her Right,” Head had only two more songs reach the top 40 before dropping out of sight as a charting artist in the U.S., although his turn to country music in the 1970s landed him two top 10 hits on the Canadian country chart.

Head continued to be a favorite of rockabilly and roots-rock enthusiasts, playing festivals like the Ponderosa Stomp. Head’s last album, “Still Treating ‘Em Right,” was released in 2011. After recovering from a stroke in 2016, he continued to perform on into 2020.
A resurgence of attention for Head began in 2007 when, years prior to winning “The Voice,” his son Sundance appeared as a contestant on “American Idol” and made the semifinals.

Patricia Wilson Aden named new President  & CEO of The Blues Foundation
President and CEO of the African American Museum in Philadelphia and former Executive Director of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation to succeed Barbara Newman.

The Blues Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Patricia Wilson Aden as its next President & CEO. Aden brings more than three decades of non-profit management experience to the Foundation, with a specialization in the preservation and celebration of African American cultural resources. Her most recent experience as President & CEO of the African American Museum in Philadelphia and her earlier role as Executive Director of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation make her uniquely qualified to lead The Blues Foundation and its Blues Hall of Fame. Aden stated, “I am genuinely excited to join The Blues Foundation and the Blues community in celebrating the Blues and the artists who have made it America’s original musical genre.”

Aden will join the Foundation’s staff on October 1, 2020.
Aden succeeds Barbara Newman, who will begin her retirement September 30th. Under Newman’s leadership, The Blues Foundation saw marked growth in engagement and reach in all facets of the organization’s operations. She embraced technology to offer greater access to and programming of major Blues Foundation events, including the International Blues Challenge and Blues Music Awards, forged new industry alliances, and amplified awareness of organizational activities in fulfilling The Blues Foundation’s mission to preserve, celebrate, and expand awareness of the Blues genre.