2018 will herald the inaugural UK Blues Awards. These awards are being run by the UK Blues Federation and will climax with an awards presentation ceremony at the Southern Pavilion on Worthing Pier. They pick up the mantel from the British Blues Awards: with fewer categories, but adding regional awards for English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish artists - as well as some special awards. The new awards are not run by the British Blues Awards organisers (which didn’t happen in 2017) and there’s no indication that they will appear again. The UK Blues Federation has the credibility to make these awards a benchmark in the UK Blues world - it is an affiliate of the Blues Foundation and an active member of the European Blues Union, as well as the organiser of the annual UK Blues Challenge. Voting will take place over a four-week period in February, with the awards ceremony being on 19th May - hosted by Ian Siegal.
Ian Siegal: photographer unknown.
The new UK Blues Awards will cover the calendar year of 2017 and a short list of nominations will be voted for by a large panel, before the awards themselves are opened up to a public vote. The UK Blues Awards will be a professionally organised scheme, with robust internet voting security and an awards ceremony that seeks to be a showcase for UK Blues, aiming to garner the respect and coverage awarded to the UK Americana or BBC Folk Awards.
The categories are:
Male Blues Vocalist of the Year
Female Blues Vocalist of the Year
Blues Band of the Year
Acoustic Blues Act of the Year
Young Blues Artist of the Year
Blues-based Festival of the Year
UK-based Blues Broadcaster of the Year
Blues Album of the Year
Blues Songwriter of the Year
Blues Club/Venue of the Year
Blues Personality of the Year
Lifetime Contribution to the Blues in the UK
Innovation in the blues in the UK
Regional Blues Act of the Year: England
Regional Blues Act of the Year: Northern Ireland
Regional Blues Act of the Year: Scotland
Regional Blues Act of the Year: Wales
Southern Pavilion, Worthing Pier.
It’s worth noting that the categories all have the suffix ‘of the Year’, so it’s about who the voters consider has made an impact in 2017, rather than being ‘the best’. Music is not a competition, especially when one is comparing an apple with an orange, but such a prestigious awards system and ceremony run by a respected organisation deserves support. When the list of finalist nominees is published I’ll be featuring them on my show - with no recommendations - and I wish UK Blues Federation success in their bid to raise the profile of blues-based music in Britain.
More info at www.ukbluesawards.com