Blues Music Awards Performers to include Irma Thomas, Taj Mahal, Bettye LaVette, more

Irma Thomas
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It's not that common for one to present an award bearing their own name, but that's exactly what the legendary B.B. King will do May 7 in Memphis, Tenn. at the 30th annual Blues Music Awards, where one nominee will be handed the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award by the man himself.

Then again, why not? The night isn't exactly an under-the-radar affair:It's to include a six-plus hour blues marathon to showcase the variety of talent active today. This includes the famed Bettye LaVette, who will (probably) not bring Jon Bon Jovi with her to Memphis to sing "A Change is Gonna Come" like she did at President Obama's inauguration. The regal Irma Thomas and much-adored Taj Mahal will be there, as well, with their Hall of Fame status bestowed by a ceremony the night before the Awards at the Memphis Marriott. Other artists to grace the stage include Albert Castiglia, Janiva Magness, The Mannish Boys, Maria Muldaur, Kenny Neal and Eden Brent. 

Some other highlights from the performance list include Otis Taylor, the banjo-player whose most recent album, 2008's Recapturing the Banjo, attempts to reconnect that instrument with its African roots; Marcia Ball, the blues pianist who pulls at boogie-woogie, zycedo and swamp blues; A Chicago Blues Jam with drummer Kenny Smith, drummer/harmonica player Willie Big Eyes Smith, bassist Bob Stroger and guitarist Lurrie Bell; Gaye Adegbalola, who's as much a scholar, teacher and activist as a fired-up singer with Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women; and Rory Block,­ a slide guitar player whose music education came straight from Son House and Mississippi John Hurt

All the performers currently on the schedule were nominated for an awardexcept for Taj Mahal, who will have to be assuaged with his Hall of Fame induction.

For anyone looking to watch the parade of great blues, the $125 tickets are available for the event at

Related links:
Feature: Bettye LaVette: Late Bloomer Gets Her Mojo On
Feature: Catching Up With... Irma Thomas
Review: Maria Muldaur: 30 Years of Maria Muldaur: I'm A Woman

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