|To recognize individuals and organizations who have contributed to
the Edmonton blues community through their work:• Writers for print and electronic media
• Radio disc jockeys/program hosts
• Promoters and booking agents
• Television, film, video
• Education i.e., blues in the schools
• Record companies/producers
Lawrence “Benny” Benjamin (b. 1908 Augusta, Ontario; d. 1973, Edmonton, Alberta)
“He was a refined person in a crude way” was how Benny Benjamin referred to himself, according to his son Weston.
Benny Benjamin was one of the first music promoters in Edmonton in the late 1950s and early 1960s – bringing in all genres of music from blues and rock to country. Artists that he brought in at that time were as diverse as Bo Diddley, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Harry Belafonte, Frank Zappa and Johnny Cash. He was the first promoter to book significant blues artists including Cream with Eric Clapton, John Mayall, B.B. King and Alberta King. Most of these shows were out of the Sales Pavilion or the Kinsmen Fieldhouse. He had connections with major R&B record companies and promoters in the United States, such as Filmore West out of San Francisco.
Through Benny’s endeavours, a number of protégés emerged who carried the mantle of bringing significant talent to Edmonton. Most notable were Holger Peterson and Don Whalen who were each responsible for booking acts at the Hovel (one of Edmonton’s first premier blues and folk venues) in the early to mid 1970s. Holger and Don went on to develop the Edmonton Folk Music Festival to great success in the 1980s.
Benny Benjamin was an early catalyst in the local blues scene, exposing local musicians in particular to the English blues acts. This had a great influence on Hot Cottage and Holger Petersen who has often stated his love of Long John Baldry’s music.
Benny, a risk taker, brought in international talent to an isolated city like Edmonton, which was never fully recognized by the Edmonton music community. The Edmonton Blues Hall of Fame is honoured to acknowledge Benny Benjamin, a long overdue tribute.
Holger Petersen (b. 1949, West Germany)
Holger Petersen is one of the most respected broadcasters and blues and roots music producers in the world. From his early days in Edmonton as a member of Spiny Norman’s Whoopee Band to founder and owner of one of the best independent recording labels, Stony Plain Records, Holger has ruled the blues airwaves for over 40 years with two well-loved radio programs: Natch’l Blues on CKUA and CBC’s Saturday Night Blues, both of which have fans all over the world.
Canada’s Ambassador of the Blues is well respected by the blues and music communities locally and throughout North America and Europe. His accomplishments are many, as are the awards which recognize them: Maple Blues Award, Keeping the Blues Alive Award 2008 from the Blues Foundation of Memphis, an Honorary Doctorate degree from the University of Alberta, and the Order of Canada. As one of the past Directors of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Holger was responsible for injecting more blues, soul and roots talent into an already ambitious line up. In the early days of his illustrious career he started out booking excellent blues acts for the Hovel: Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Johnny Shines, Walter Horton, Sugar Blue, and Louisiana Red.
At the Hovel, Holger started interviewing the artists in a friendly and casual manner, which would become his signature approach. Holger’s interview style found its way into the recording process as bonus tracks on the records. His method can be appreciated when reading his very fine book Talking Music (Insomniac Press, 2011). When talking to Holger about music, he, like inductee Dr. Bruce Stovel, had great insights not only for the music but the artists as well. Listening to him speak in a casual conversation with friends and colleagues can be mesmerizing. And if ever a question or particularly puzzling inquiry comes up in conversation, the response is always “Holger will know”.
Dr. Bruce Stovel (b. 1947, Montreal, Quebec; d. 2007, Edmonton, Alberta)
Bruce had an extraordinary career as an academic and scholar and was a world-renowned expert on author Jane Austen. But his other passion was the American blues. Upon his arrival to Edmonton in 1985, he would fill in for Doug Langille on his CJSR radio show Off the Wall. After Doug left Edmonton, Bruce and his son Grant produced and hosted Calling all Blues. It was at this time that he took the responsibility of booking blues acts for the Yardbird Suite. Bruce’s genius was two-fold. First was his insight to team seasoned blues men and women with younger Edmonton performers. He was responsible for inviting musicians like MoJo Buford, John Primer, Byther Smith, Lazy Lester, Texas Johnny Brown, Joe Beard, Deitra Farr, Jody Williams and Eddie C Campbell, to name a few. He then secured the younger Edmonton talent such as Jimmy Guiboche, Roger Stanley, Harpdog Brown, Lionel Rault, Ron Rault and Rusty Reed. He had a good ear and selected fine side men like Chris Brzezicki, Jeff Lisk, Scott Anderson, Dave Babcock, Dave Bridges, Dave “Crawdad” Cantera and his son Grant Stovel, to create an ensemble to support these out of town performers. At the same time, he introduced unknown artists that were just beginning their careers such as Ruthie Foster, Dawn Tyler Watson, Garry Clark Jr., and local talent Kat Danser and Lester Quitzau.
Along with his radio endeavors, Bruce wrote about his passion in a column titled Long Distance Call for the UK publication Blue Print in the early 1990s, as well serving as a media person for the Edmonton Blues Festival. The book “Jane Austen Sings the Blues” (UofA Press, 2008) was a tribute to Bruce, published after his untimely death. This married his two major passions (Jane Austen and the blues). Included was a CD highlighting blues recordings that were close to his spirit, featuring artists Ann Rabson, Maurice John Vaughn, and Eddie “Vann” Shaw (son of our 2014 inductee Eddie Shaw) along with the support of Kat Danser, Larry Lever, Tim Williams and Big Dave Mclean. The accompanying CD was produced by Edmonton’s Graham Guest and Bruce’s son Grant Stovel.
Bruce has been described as a bluesman who didn’t whine. He was highly respected for his counsel and opinion by fans and musicians alike. He had a fine ear for the art form, and astute sense of its social context and history.
|To recognize musicians from outside of Edmonton who have made
significant contributions to the Edmonton blues community:• Musicians who have mentored or supported local artists
• Recorded in Edmonton
• Engaged local musicians for the recordings
• Picked up local musicians for tours
• Education i.e., blues in the schools
• Repeat performers in Edmonton by invitation
Big Walter Horton (b. 1917 Horn Lake, Mississippi; d. 1981, Chicago, Illinois)
When listing the giants of the Mississippi saxophone (harmonica), Walter Horton’s name tops the list, along with Sonny Boy Williamson #1 and Little Walter Jacobs. Johnny Shines had stated that Walter gave Sonny Boy Williamson #1 harmonica lessons. Big Walter’s early influences were Will Shade and Hammie Nixon before Big Walter moved to Chicago in 1953. He then worked with many of the major blues artists such as Johnny Shines, Jimmy Rogers and Otis Rush until he began his stint with the great Muddy Waters Band after the departure of Junior Wells. The paths of Horton and Shines will cross many times, Horton will play harmonica on Shines’ “Evening Sun” and again when both of them end up in Willie Dixon’s Chicago Blues All Stars. Dixon had said that Horton was the best harmonica he had ever heard. Big Walter recorded numerous albums but most notably “Big Walter with Cary Bell” in 1973. When on tour with the Willie Dixon All Stars on a stop in Edmonton, Horton recorded “Joe Chicago” and a year later he was invited to record the first major blues album to surface out of Edmonton “Big Walter “Shakey” Horton with Hot Cottage’’ produced by Holger Petersen. This album is one of the crucial Canadian blues albums as it showcased Edmonton talent and set the standard for albums to follow. Horton was recruited by Muddy Waters and Johnny Winter to play on Muddy’s come-back album “Hard Again”’ in 1977. Big Walter can be seen in the Maxwell Street scene in the movie ‘’The Blues Brothers 1980”. You can hear his influence decades later in the work of Edmonton players such as Rusty Reed, Harp Dog Brown and Dave “Crawdad” Cantera, to name a few.
Johnny Shines (b. 1915, Frayer, Tennessee; d. 1992, Chicago, Illinois)
Johnny Shines was in Willie Dixon’s All Stars along with Big Walter Horton, when the band was touring Canada in the early 1970s. Shines recorded two significant albums, that had talented young Edmonton musicians playing on them. Bob Derkach of Hot Cottage played bass on the album “Worried Blues Ain’t Bad”. The other album, titled “Too Wet to Plow” which was said to have been recorded in just two days in September 1975 with Ron Rault on bass, Sugar Blue on harmonica and Louisiana Red on guitar. Steve Boddington tells how Johnny Shines showed him how to play slide guitar with open tuning, and got to jam with him when he was invited to the Hovel in 1974. He was very generous with his time and insights, according to Boddington. Shines was greatly influenced by Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton and Blind Lemon Jefferson, and more than willing to pass it on to the young Edmonton talent. To illustrate the overlap between Horton and Shines, Horton played harp on two Johnny Shines releases, “Evening Sun” and “Brutal Hearted Women”. The last time Johnny Shines performed in front of an Edmonton audience was at the 1991 Edmonton Folk Music Festival with his wife Candy Shines. His daughter Caroline Shines established The Johnny Shines Blues Foundation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2010.
Eddie Shaw (b. 1937, Stringtown, Mississippi)
One of the principle saxophone players on the Chicago blues scene in the last 50 years – Eddie Shaw.
As a young man Eddie recorded with Muddy Waters, and toured with Muddy all over the United States. He played with such notable guitar players as Otis Rush and Freddie King, but most predominantly with Magic Sam. Eddie Shaw moved on from the Muddy Waters band to Howlin Wolf’s band, until Wolf’s passing in 1976 after which Eddie assumed leadership of the band.
Eddie Shaw and The Wolfgang have been a regular feature on the Edmonton and Alberta blues circuit for the last 35 years. One of Eddie’s earlier albums “Have Blues Will Travel” has specific mention of Edmonton in the lyrics of one of the songs. Eddie’s son, Eddie “Vaan” Shaw, is a major mainstay in the band and an excellent guitar player in his own right. The other long time band member is Lafayette “Shorty” Gilbert. Eddie Shaw and The Wolfgang have graced numerous stages over the years, most notably the City Media Club, the Sidetrack, Yardbird Suite, and the Commercial Hotel/Blues on Whyte. The father-son duo of Eddie Shaw and Eddie “Vaan” Shaw wielded an impact on younger Edmonton blues artists by inviting local talent to sit in, and going on tour with them (an example being Graham Guest). In May 2014, Eddie Shaw was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis, Tennessee. Eddie Shaw, a gracious and generous man with a soft spot for Edmonton, enjoys a solid fan base and has many personal friends here.
|To recognize individuals or bands from Edmonton and area that have made a significant musical contribution to the Edmonton blues community and beyond, over a period of not less than 20 years.|
Clarence “Big” Miller (b. 1922, Sioux City, Iowa; d. 1992, Edmonton, Alberta)
Big Miller was a major influence on the Edmonton jazz and blues community as well as a substantial presence across Canada and around the world. During a Canadian tour in the early 1970s, Big decided to stay in Canada, and became a Canadian citizen in 1973. This was a pivotal moment for Edmonton. Big was one of the first significant blues artists to make the commitment to live and work in Edmonton, and as one of the last of the Kansas City blues shouters, he brought a new level of musicianship, professionalism, experience and cachet to Edmonton’s fledgling blues scene. Early in his illustrious career, Big performed and was associated with music greats such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, Jay McShann and Edmonton’s own big-band leader Tommy Banks. Together, Big and Tommy toured Europe, performed at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in 1978, and won a Juno award in the jazz category in 1979 for a similarly titled recording. There have been many tributes and accolades bestowed on Big – from a National Film Board of Canada documentary titled “Big and the Blues” to a tip of the hat from his dear and close friend Jay McShann, who composed a fitting piece titled “Big Miller’s Blues”. In 1985 Clarence “Big” Miller was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Laws from Athabasca University. It seems appropriate that Big recorded “Live at Athabasca University”, a recording produced by Stony Plain Records. Big Miller was one of the finest music ambassadors that Edmonton ever had, leaving an unforgettable legacy.
The Rault Brothers – Lionel Rault (b. 1951, Edmonton, Alberta) and Ron Rault (b. 1949, Edmonton, Alberta)
The Rault Brothers have had a major impact on the Edmonton blues scene over the last forty years and remain sought after musicians to this day. In the early 1970s the Rault Brothers not only had one of the best bands around Edmonton, but were the core members of the outstanding band, Pontiac.
Lionel Rault is known as a singer, a fine and tasty guitar player as well as a band leader. Early in his career, Lionel performed in the same concerts and opened for such greats as Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, and later, on the same stages with Taj Mahal, John Hammond and Ruthie Foster. Lionel has recorded a number of excellent albums through the years including “Killin’ Time”, “Been so Long”, and “No Tell Hotel”. Lionel is also well-known as one of the great sounding DJs on CKUA Radio.
Ron Rault is an excellent tunesmith, songwriter and a first-call bass player for recording sessions and tours for diverse headliners that include a Western Canada tour with the great John Lee Hooker. He played bass on Johnny Shines’ album “Too Wet to Plow” in 1975 along with Sugar Blue and Louisiana Red. Ron’s writing skills are seen in “Jump Up”, a song he wrote for the Powder Blues Band out of Vancouver. For a number of years he has worked as a core member of two Peter North productions Come In My Kitchen and most recently Front Porch Roots Revue that has travelled extensively across the Prairies. The Revue consists of core member Ron Rault, Dave “Crawdad” Cantera, Thom Moon, Gord Matthews and Ron Casat complemented by special guests David Reid, Tim Williams, and Bobby Cameron. The Revue will perform this summer at the 2014 Edmonton Blues Festival as the opening act.
Hot Cottage Founding Members
Founded in 1970, Edmonton’s Hot Cottage became Western Canada’s premier blues band. The band’s name derived from the famed Chess brother’s Hot Grove Avenue recording studio on the south side of Chicago. The band’s early influences were the British blues bands brought to Edmonton by Benny Benjamin: Cream with Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall, and Jeff Beck, along with listening to the blues records of the day. As a result of the first North American blues revival in the 1960s, a number of Chicago acts started to tour across North America. Most notably these included Willie Dixon All-Stars, Muddy Waters Band and the James Cotton Band. After one of his tours, Big Walter Horton was invited by a young Holger Petersen to record with Hot Cottage, resulting in the pivotal album “Big Walter Horton and Hot Cottage”. The single from this album, “Joe Chicago” became the intro song for Holger Petersen’s Natch’l Blues radio program on CKUA for many years.
The founding members are Steve Boddington (guitar and vocals), Brian Koehli (bass), Linsey Umrysh (percussion), and Bob Derkach (keyboard). Over the years, a number of musicians had the opportunity to work with Hot Cottage: Nancy Nash (vocalist) sang on the Big Walter Horton project, Hank Leonhardt, Bob Edwards, Cam MacInnes, Mike Yuzwenko, and more recently the Craft Horns which consists of musicians Ken Hoffman, Don Berner, Joel Gray and Audrey Ochoa adding a musical punch. Hot Cottage along with Edmonton band Tacoy Ryde performed the early street parties on Saskatchewan Drive.