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The HOROJO Trio, representing the Ottawa Blues Society, left Memphis with a first-place finish in the Band Division, while JW Jones (the “Jo” in HOROJO) took home the Gibson Guitar Award for Best Band Guitarist. Hector Anchondo, from the Blues Society of Omaha, triumphed in the Solo/Duo Division as well as earning the Memphis Cigar Box Guitar Award as the Best Solo/Duo Guitarist.

Felix Slim also found much success during the 36th Annual IBC awards presentations. The Long Island Blues Society representative picked up the Lee Oskar Harmonica Award for the Best Harmonica Player, while finishing second to Anchondo in the Solo/Duo category.

Anchondo credits his Hispanic background for the Latin-inspired blues sound. Placing second to the Canada-based HOROJO Trio was the Jose Ramirez Band, which is led by Ramirez who was a major blues star in Costa Rica before relocating to America.

Receiving recognition too at this year’s IBC Awards was the Pitbull of Blues Band of the Southwest Florida Blues Society which won the third place spot in the Band Division.

National News and Beyond

Neil Pearl Canadian Drummer and Lyricist for Rush Has Passed at Age 67.

Neil Ellwood Peart, OC (September 12, 1952 – January 7, 2020) Canadian musician and writer best known as the drummer and primary lyricist of the rock band Rush passed on January 7, 2020. Peart received numerous awards for his musical performances, including an induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1983, making him the youngest person ever so honored. His drumming was renowned for its technical proficiency, and his live performances for their exacting nature and stamina.

Early in his career, Peart's performance style was deeply rooted in hard rock. He drew most of his inspiration from drummers such as Keith Moon and John Bonham. As time passed, he began to emulate jazz and big band musicians Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.
In addition to serving as Rush's primary lyricist, Peart also published several memoirs about his travels. His lyrics for Rush addressed universal themes and diverse subjects including science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy, as well as secular, humanitarian, and libertarian themes. Peart wrote a total of seven nonfiction books focused on his travels and personal stories.

Peart was born on September 12, 1952 to Glen and Betty Peart and lived his early years on his family's farm in Hagersville,  on the outskirts of Hamilton. His first exposure to musical training came in the form of piano lessons, which he later said did not have much impact on him. He had a penchant for drumming on various objects around the house with a pair of chopsticks, so for his thirteenth birthday his parents bought him a pair of drum sticks, a practice drum and some lessons, with the promise that if he stuck with it for a year they would buy him a kit. His parents bought him a drum kit for his fourteenth birthday .Peart officially joined Rush  on July 29, 1974, (Lee's 21st birthday), two weeks before the group's first US tour.

Peart soon settled into his new position, also becoming the band's primary lyricist. Before joining Rush, he had written few songs, but, with the other members largely uninterested in writing lyrics, Peart's previously underutilized writing became as noticed as his musicianship. The band was working hard to establish themselves as a recording act, and Peart, along with the rest of the band, began to undertake extensive touring.

His first recording with the band, 1975's Fly by Night, was fairly successful, winning the Juno Award for most promising new act, Peart died from brain cancer on January 7, 2020, in Santa Monica, California. His family made the announcement on January 10. Peart is preceded in death by his wife and daughter.

Mic Gillette American Brass Player Passes at Age 64

Mic Gillette (May 7, 1951 – January 17, 2016) was an American brass player, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area's East Bay. He is best known for being a member of the bands; Tower of Power, Cold Blood, and The Sons of Champlin. He played in the horn section with Tower of Power for 19 years.

A child prodigy, Gillette picked up the trumpet and was reading music by age four. At age 15, he joined the band that would later be known as Tower of Power, playing various brass instruments for the band including the trumpet, trombone, baritone horn and tuba.
He took a brief break from Tower of Power to tour in the 1970s and record with the band Cold Blood.

He re-joined Tower of Power, touring and opening for Santana and Creedence Clearwater Revival. As its reputation as a premier horn band grew, Tower of Power toured with Heart, Rod Stewart, and The Rolling Stones, among others. In addition, Gillette appeared on hundreds of recordings as a session player.

In 1984, Gillette quit touring to be a full-time father to his daughter Megan.[3] In 1998 shortly after joining the Sons of Champlin he missed one of their concerts due to a split lip. According to Gillette himself, he had split his lip due to not playing for 14 years after leaving Tower of Power. In 1998 he returned to music.

Gillette was a member of the Sons of Champlin (he departed in 2006), fronted by Chicago vocalist and keyboarders Bill Champlin; he had also a member of Tortilla Soup, a 10 piece northern California band. He played with comedian Danny Marona, the Stevie "Keys" Roseman All Star Band, the Strokeland Superband, and Funky Loophole (Gillette's own band). He toured and recorded with The Doobie Brothers appearing on the Doobie's "Live At Wolf Trap" DVD, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Santana. After a 25-year absence, Gillette rejoined Tower of Power in August 2009 for touring, replacing Mike Bogart; but he left the band again after just more than a year and a half on February 14, 2011.

In the last years of his life, Gillette continued to do session work as well as live appearances; fulfilling a long-time dream to assemble his own band, he brought together Megan Gillette McCarthy (his daughter), Greg Barker, Dave Hawkes, Clint Day, and Matt Martinez to create the Mic Gillette Band (the MGB).

Gillette spent much of his time teaching doing clinics at middle schools & high schools. He was the music director and taught clinics at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, California and taught music classes at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette, California. He raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for music departments in schools across the United States.

Gillette died on January 17, 2016 of a heart attack, aged 64. He was survived by his wife Julia and his daughter Megan Gillette McCarthy.

Ray Sawyer Who Sang "On the Cover of the Rolling Stone" Has Passed

Ray Sawyer (February 1, 1937 – December 31, 2018) was an American singer and vocalist with the 1970s rock band Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show.  Though primarily a backing vocalist and occasional percussionist, he sang lead on their hit song "The Cover of Rolling Stone" and was a recognizable presence in the band owing to his eye patch and cowboy  hat. Sawyer lost his right eye in a 1967 automobile accident.

Sawyer was the lead vocalist on the band's breakthrough hit, "The Cover of Rolling Stone," as well as many of the Medicine Show's earlier songs. Eventually, by the late 1970s, as the band found commercial success, Sawyer stepped back into a backing vocalist role behind Dennis Locorriere, occasionally playing another instrument. Sawyer left the band in 1983, allegedly because he was no longer happy with the band's direction.

From 1988 to October 2015, Sawyer toured the nostalgia circuit as "Dr. Hook featuring Ray Sawyer.", Sawyer retired in 2015 and died after a short illness, aged 81, on December 31, 2018.