image of the banner for the 39th Blues Music Awards, Memphis

Following an exciting evening in Memphis, we can now reveal the winners for the 39th annual Blues Music Awards.

There were a total of 135 nominees and 26 categories.

Congratulations to all of 2018’s BMA winners, who are –
1. Acoustic Album:  Break the Chain – Doug MacLeod
2. Acoustic ArtistTaj Mahal        
3. AlbumTajMo – Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’                        
4. B.B. King EntertainerTaj Mahal                     
5. BandRick Estrin & the Nightcats      
6. Best Emerging Artist AlbumSouthern Avenue – Southern Avenue
7. Contemporary Blues AlbumTajMo – Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’               
8. Contemporary Blues Female ArtistSamantha Fish    
9. Contemporary Blues Male ArtistKeb’ Mo’
10. HistoricalA Legend Never Dies, Essential Recordings 1976-1997 – Luther Allison (Ruf Recordings)
11. Instrumentalist-Vocalist: Beth Hart
12.  Instrumentalist-Bass: Michael “Mudcat” Ward
13. Instrumentalist-Drums: Tony Braunagel            
14. Instrumentalist-GuitarRonnie Earl
15. Instrumentalist-HarmonicaJason Ricci         
16. Instrumentalist-HornTrombone Shorty           
17. Pinetop Perkins Piano Player (Instrumentalist – Piano): Victor Wainwright
18. Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female): Ruthie Foster                        
19. Rock Blues Album: We’re All In This Together – Walter Trout
20. Rock Blues Artist: Mike Zito                 
21. Song: The Blues Ain’t Going Nowhere” written by Rick Estrin and performed by Rick Estrin 
22. Soul Blues Album: Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm – Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
23. Soul Blues Female Artist: Mavis Staples
24. Soul Blues Male Artist: Curtis Salgado                                                         
25. Traditional Blues Album: Right Place, Right Time – Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter

26. Traditional Blues Male Artist: Rick Estrin

photo of Thomas Ruf, Walter Trout & Mike Zito by Jeff Fasano at the Blues Music Awards 2018
Thomas Ruf, Walter Trout & Mike Zito by Jeff Fasano

Thomas Ruf from Ruf Records reported that it was a big night for his label with awards coming in for several categories. Historical Album of The Year was awarded to Luther Allison – A Legend Never Dies, Essential Recordings 1976 – 1997 (Ruf Records).


Other artists from the label included Samantha Fish who won the Female Contemporary Artist of the Year. Victor Wainwright also signed to Ruf Records once again took home the Pinetop Perkins Piano Award for Instrumentalist – Piano, a title he has won four of the last six years and old-friend and former Ruf Records artist Walter Trout won the Rock Blues Album of the Year with ‘We’re All In This Together’.

In the new for 2018 category – Blues Rock Artist of the Year went to Mike Zito, who among many things is also a contributing writer for Blues Matters magazine.

‘It’s an amazing and rewarding experience to meet all your friends in the industry, once a year, at the Blues music genres prime event in the hometown of Blues and Soul music.” says Thomas Ruf.

Alligator Records also had a great night with awards going to Curtis Salgado for Soul Blues Artist of the Year, a distinction he has won five previous times.

Internationally loved blues masters Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, who garnered the most BMA nominations with 8, took home one of the evening’s biggest prizes, the highly coveted Band Of The Year award.

photo of Rick Estrin & The Nightcats

Estrin also won the statues for Song Of The Year (for The Blues Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere, from the band’s latest CD, Groovin’ In Greaseland) and for Traditional Blues Male Artist Of The Year.

Mavis Staples also held onto her title of Soul Blues Artist of the Year.

image of Mavis Staples - Soul Blues Artist of the Year 2018
Mavis Staples – Soul Blues Artist 2018

Mavis Staples had more to celebrate this week besides being named the best Soul Blues Female Artist. The day before her Blues Music Awards victory, her father, the late guitar great Roebuck “Pops” Staples, was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

This year’s other new members included the incomparable drummer Sam Lay; the renowned blues pianist and songwriter Georgia Tom Dorsey; acclaimed Chicago blues band The Aces; the first “Queen of the Blues,” singer Mamie Smith; and, in a non-musician category, Al Benson, the legendary Chicago disc jockey, promoter and music entrepreneur.

The historic recordings honored by the Blues Hall of Fame were Ma Rainey’s “See See Rider Blues,” Albert King’s “Cross Cut Saw,” Joe Turner’s “Roll ‘Em Pete,” Booker T. & the MG’s’ “Green Onions,” and Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man,” while B.B. King’s 1967 album Blues Is King was this year’s Classic of Blues Recording Album entrant.

Additionally, the Bob Riesman authoritative 2011 biography I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy was inducted as 2018’s Classic of Blues Literature selection.

For More Info – The Blues Foundation