Sugar Ray Norcia, Elvin Bishop and John Nemeth lead latest Blues Music Awards nominations

Last week, we told you about this year’s nominees for the annual Grammy Awards, where the type of music on which this blog focuses is often confined to a handful of categories at best, with now just one dedicated blues category (Best Blues Album), and, if we’re lucky, perhaps one or two blues nods each year in the Americana and/or American Roots categories, along with an occasional nomination in a liner notes, engineering, or more mainstream music category such as Gary Clark Jr.’s Rock Song and Traditional R&B Performance nominations last year.

Which is why we’re always delighted when the Blues Foundation announces the nominees for its own music awards a few days later each year, with nominees for the 2015 event (the 36th go-around for the organization) having been put out this morning. Celebrating the blues and the people who make the music through honors in two dozen categories, the Blues Music Awards offers a breadth and depth to the genre with which few other awards events can even begin to compare.

Leading this year’s nominations in the annual program with six a piece are Elvin Bishop, John Nemeth, and Sugar Ray Norcia, with the three squaring off for awards in the Album, Band, and Song (Bishop’s “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right”, Nemeth’s “Bad Luck is My Name”, and Norcia’s “Things Could Be Worse“) categories, while Bishop and Nemeth also go head-to-head for the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year honor, where they face four-time nominee Bobby Rush (Soul Album for Decisions with Blinddog Smokin’, Soul Male Artist, and Song for “Another Murder in New Orleans”), three-time nominee Rick Estrin (Band and Harmonica), and dual-nominee Sugaray Rayford (Traditional Male Artist).

In addition to its Best Album nomination, Bishop’s Can’t Even Do Wrong Right is also nominated for Contemporary Album, with Bishop also joining Gary Clark Jr., three-time nominee Jarekus Singleton (who accompanies Bishop among both Album and Contemporary Blues Album nominees for his Refuse to Lose) and two Joes – two-time nominees Joe Bonamassa (also Guitar) and Joe Louis Walker (another Contemporary Album nominee for Hornet’s Nest) – among the nominations for Contemporary Male Artist.

Norcia’s Living Tear to Tear (with his band the Bluetones) is also nominated for Traditional Album and Norcia himself for Traditional Male Artist and Harmonica, with the band’s Michael “Mudcat” Ward also nominated in the Bass category, while Nemeth received some similar nominations in the Soul categories for Album (Memphis Grease) and Male Artist.

The Mannish BoysWrapped Up and Ready rounds out the nominees for Album of the Year, also earning nods in both the Band and Traditional Album categories.

Keb’ Mo’s Grammy-nominated BluesAmericana and Janiva MagnessOriginal round out the nominations for Contemporary Album, with Magness also up for honors in the Contemporary Female and Song (“Let Me Breathe”) categories.

Other artists receiving multiple nominations include Johnny Winter (Guitar and Rock Album for Step Back), Marcia Ball, Rory Block, Eric Bibb, Eden Brent, Johnny Rawls, Otis Clay, John Mooney, John Hammond, and Vaneese Thomas (daughter of Rufus Thomas).

For a full list of nominees by category and details on voting, which is open to Blues Foundation members only, please visit the Foundation’s website. The awards will be presented in downtown Memphis in early May.

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