The Maple Blues Awards

The Maple Blues Awards, Canada's national award programme that promotes and recognizes outstanding achievement in blues music, has announced their nominees for 2005. The nominees are selected by a distinguished panel of blues experts from across Canada, and winners are selected by the votes of Canadian blues fans.

The winners will be announced at a spectacular gala presentation at the Phoenix Concert Theatre ( Toronto) on Monday, January 16, 2006.

This year's nominations are dominated by a new generation of musicians, proving beyond a doubt that Canadian blues has a bright future. Second-generation bluesman Garrett Mason, son of Canadian blues legend Dutch Mason, has made an impression worthy of his lineage, and leads all nominees this year with nods in six categories. Close on Garrett's heels are Toronto's Paul Reddick and debut recording artist Julian Fauth with five nominations each. Ottawa is represented by three nominated young artists: Roxanne Potvin, Southside Steve Marriner, and 13 year-old Elyssa Mahoney.

Veterans of the Canadian blues scene who laid the foundation for these younger artists aren't outdone, however. Chris Whiteley received four nominations while Downchild Blues Band, who are celebrating their 35th year, have even more reasons to party after being recognized in three major categories. Four Downchild musicians also received individual nominations. Jack de Keyzer received three nominations to further sweeten his 25th year in the business.

The nominations reflect a blues scene that is alive across the country. In many categories, musicians from Ontario are nominated alongside artists from Quebec, the Prairies, the Maritimes, or the West Coast. In the hotly contested Electric Act of the Year category, Toronto acts Downchild and Jack de Keyzer received recognition opposite Halifax-native Garrett Mason, Winnipeg band The Perpetrators, and Vancouver blues-rocker David Gogo. Up for Entertainer of the Year, Kitchener's Mel Brown is in good company with Vancouver's Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne. Acoustic Act of the Year nominees include New Brunswick's Hot Toddy, BCs Harry Manx, and Hamilton's Harrison Kennedy. Nowhere is the regional diversity more apparent than in the Female Vocalist of the Year category in which New Brunswick's Theresa Malenfant, Dawn Tyler Watson from Quebec, Ottawa's Roxanne Potvin, Toronto's Shakura S'Aida, and the ever-popular Saskatoon-born Suzie Vinnick all received nods.

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