The Inland Empire Blues Society “Empire Awards” were developed to honor musicians and the individual
achievements of others within our own Blues region. Our musicians and blues fans work very hard for their
love of the blues, and we need to support them. The “Empire Awards” is our way of showing them we care.
Each August, I.E.B.S. members nominate their favorites in all the categories, and the top three from each
category are listed for your votes in September.
The 13th Annual Inland Empire Blues Society “Empire Awards” went off without a hitch on November 8th at
the Spokane Valley Eagles.
We started the evening with a “Ten Second Tom” chronicle, which included nearly all past and present
members of this great local band. Featured vocalists were 2006 “Best Female Vocalist” Rebecca Beale,
2007 Q6 “Gimme the Mike” winner Nicole Lewis, and current TST vocalist Pam Lehman. Both Rebecca and
Pam were nominees in the “Best Female Vocalist” category this year.
After a couple of smokin’ sets from Ten Second Tom, Master of Ceremonies KPBX “Down Home Blues”
host Brion Foster started with the awards. First category “Best Writer for Inside Blues” had nominees
Deborah Conway, Gary Court, and Craig Heimbigner. Award Mistress Judy Budrow handed Brion the
winning name of Craig Heimbigner, scoring his 3rd win in this category. Ted accepted the award for Craig,
who was out of town. Next up, President Carl Speer announced “Best Blues Radio Program.” Nominees
were The Blues Show w/Ted & Scott (KKZX); Big Daddy’s Blues Show (KWCW) (Walla Walla); and Down
Home Blues w/Brion Foster (KPBX). Picking up their second win were Ted & Scott. Both thanked the voters
for listening, and voting, and encouraged everyone to listen to all the blues programming available! Taking
the mike back from Carl, Brion picked up the pace with the “Best Blues Drummer” nominees: Zach Cooper
(Too Slim & the Taildraggers); Mike Hays (The Fat Tones); and Kevin Olsenberg (Crosstown). Mike Hays of
the Fat Tones accepted his second in a row, and third win for this category, and thanked the voters.
A wide open category that accepts nominations for any instrument that doesn’t have
a specific category, we’ve had Trumpet, Saxophone, and Percussion winners.
Nominees this year were Mark Bryan (Cool Stack, Saxophone); Charlie Butts
(The Filter Tips, Saxophone); and Constance Eller (Cary Fly Band, Violin).
Mark Bryan was named as winner this year, thanks to your votes, and graciously
accepted his award.
“Best Blues Harmonica” nominees Dave Allen (DA & the Cruisers); 14 year old Forest Govedare; and Jess
Kunz of Laffin’ Bones were your top 3, and Jess Kunz realizes his first ever win.
Sammy Eubanks, Cary Fly, and Joe Shalloe of Cool Stack, were the nominees for “Best Male Blues
Vocalist.” Accepting the award on Sammy’s behalf, Ted thanked everyone for voting for Sammy. This is
Sammy’s 2nd in a row, and 5th award in this category. 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006 & 2007! A hugely popular
category “Best Blues Guitarist” came up next. Pat Barclay (Big Mumbo); Aaron Richner (Aaron Richner
Band); and Russ Schneider (Crosstown) were the nominees. With six time winner Tim “Too Slim” Langford,
3 time winners Pat Coast & Bobby Patterson, welcome Aaron Richner! Scott Higgin accepted the award for
Jeff Aker, Neil Elwell (Doghouse Boyz & Laffin’ Bones), and Ray Roberson (solo & Roberson and Beese)
were the nominees in the “Best Blues Slide Guitar” category. Neil Elwell accepts his 2nd consecutive and
Only the third year of this category, Neil Elwell, Ray Roberson, & Janice “J.J.” White
were the nominees in the “Best Blues Performer” category, and J.J. joins the few
and proud winners, following Bobby Patterson (2006, The Fat Tones), and Tuck
Foster (2005, The Howlers).
“Best Acoustic Blues Act” nominees were all present and accounted for: Jeff Aker, Don Millard, and
Roberson & Beese. Ray & Neil were thrilled to win this award!
Who’s gonna be the “Best New Blues Band?” The nominees were Chip & the Bushwhackers, D.A. & the
Cruisers, and the Aaron Richner Band. Ted accepted the awards for the Aaron Richner Band, as none of
the members were present. This award was won by a different version of the band, Aaron Richner & the
Blues Drivers, in 2000. One of only two categories that had more than the normal 3 nominees was “Best
Blues Band,” and they were Big Mumbo Blues Band, Cool Stack, Crosstown, and The Fat Tones. The Fat
Tones win the award, placing them in the “Hall of Fame” category, and making them ineligible for 3 years.
Other “Hall of Fame” winners in this category include Too Slim & the Taildraggers & Pat Coast & Out of the
Blue. The Fat Tones were also nominated in the “Best Blues Album (Northwest)” for their latest release “Fify
Bucks & Free Beer,” as were Becki Sue & Her Big Rockin’ Daddies! ~ “Big City Blues,” and Too Slim & the
Taildraggers ~ “The Fortune Teller.” This category was the closest race of any this year, causing multiple re-
counts to confirm the winner, and “Big City Blues” was the winner.
Becki Sue & Her Big Rockin’ Daddies! is only the third non-local band
to ever win this category, joining two other West Side bands:
The Randy Oxford Band ~ All The Buzz (2004), and
The Charles White Band ~ Not Easily Amused (1997).
Next up, “Best Blues Event (Inland Empire)” with nominees the 12th Annual Bronze Blues & Brews (Joseph,
Oregon); The Rock Cut Blues Festival (Orient, Washington); and the 20th Annual Winthrop Rhythm & Blues
Festival (Winthrop, Washington). Backing up their 2002 & 2000 wins is the 20th Annual Winthrop Rhythm &
Blues Festival! The award was accepted by 5 members of the Winthrop Music Association.
Rolling right along, we come to “Best Blues Club/Venue” with nominees
Bluz @ the Bend, the Bronco Inn, and Mr. G’s. Attaining only the second
ever “Hall of Fame” award in this category is Bluz at the Bend. Capone’s
in Coeur d’Alene was the first, with wins from 2000-2002. Closing in on
the end, the last award of the evening is for “Keeping The Blues Alive”
an individual who has displayed exceptional achievements or involvement
with the blues. Our 2007 nominees certainly have that going for them!
Nominees were Dave Green; Craig Heimbigner, Ed S. & Deborah Conway,
and Carl Speer. Carl will surely place this next to his 2005 KBA award!
Big thanks to Brion Foster & Judy Budrow for making the awards go so smoothly!
Now it’s time for Doug Skoog & Blues Alliance! They came out of the box like thoroughbred racehorses, and
didn’t let up for 2 hours! Doug Skoog, keys & vocals; Dave Jette, drums; Scott Simmons, bass; and Dean
Reichert, guitar & vocals, put on a show that kept folks dancing till the very end. We had a hell of a good
We hope to see you all there next year!!!
|Welcome to the 2007 Inland Empire Blues Society
"13th Annual Empire Awards"
*all photos by Carl Speer
The Nomination & Voting Process
It is really very simple: You must be a current member of the Inland Empire Blues
Society to nominate and vote. Members are allowed only one vote, and each vote is verified before it is
counted. Members’ votes are confidential! Email votes are also accepted, including the members’ name
and expiration date for verification.
Nominations take place in August. Final voting deadline is the end of September.
Live Music Is Dead Without You! Exercise your right to vote!
What happens then? The returned official ballots are counted, and the winners will be announced at the
Inland Empire Blues Society “Empire Award Ceremony.” We hold the Empire Awards on the second
Thursday of November. This is open to the public, 21 & over, food and drinks available. The event is always
at the Spokane Valley Eagles, (16801 E Sprague Avenue in the Spokane Valley) doors opening at 6:00,
and the show starting at 6:30 with the “Best New Blues Band” of the previous year.
At 8pm, the awards start.
9pm brings our headliner band.
“Hall of Fame” explanation: When a person (band, individual, club, etc.) wins in a category three
consecutive years, “Hall of Fame” status has been reached. That person (band, individual, club,
etc.) is then ineligible for that category for 3 years.
In the past, we’ve had other categories at the Awards. “Best Volunteer,” Best Place to Get The Blues
(Record Store),” “Best Blues Disc Jockey,” and “Best Original Blues Song.” We were a young organization
at the time, and felt, after a couple of years, that there were not enough choices for these categories, so they
Are we missing something here? If you have a category that should be here, let us know, and we
will certainly consider it.
|Dave Green & Rebecca Beale
of Ten Second Tom
Bob Ergott (The Fat Tones); Kenny Lawson (DA & the Cruisers); and
Dave Sammartano (Laffin’ Bones) were the nominees in the “Best
Blues Bassist” category, and continuing the run of all things Fat Tones,
Dave Lee, new member of Cool Stack; Keith Lewis, Crosstown; and Lindel
Reason, the 2006 winner , were nominees in the “Best Blues Keyboardist”
category. Taken completely by surprise, Keith Lewis was on stage tearing down
equipment from his Ten Second Tom performance, and can now hang his 2007
Rebecca Beale & Pam Lehman of Ten
Second Tom, and Janice “J.J.” White of
Cool Stack were the nominees for “Best
Female Blues Vocalist,” and J.J. White,
who had just arrived, didn’t even have
time to sit down before coming up to get
|Neil Beese, Brion Foster & Ray Roberson
|King, Becki Sue, Les “Wild Child” White, &
|Winthrop Music Association.
|Maryanne Snyder & Mike of Bluz at the Bend