Maple Blues Awards 2021: The full list of winners

Dawn Tyler Watson, Matt Andersen and the Smoke Wagon Blues Band were among the big winners of the 24th annual Maple Blues Awards, honouring the best of the blues across Canada.

The Toronto Blues Society broke up this year’s celebrations into four virtual award ceremonies hosted throughout February from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver.

Dawn Tyler Watson was named entertainer of the year, taking home one of the biggest awards. The Montreal-based singer’s latest honour arrived after she won the Juno Award for blues album of the year in 2020 for her album Mad Love. 

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Matt Andersen was named both acoustic act of the year and male vocalist of the year. The Juno nominee from Perth-Andover, N.B., was celebrated for his latest album Halfway Home By Morning.

The Smoke Wagon Blues Band from Hamilton, Ont., was another two-time winner, earning trophies for new artist of the year and recording/producer of the year for their song Ballad of Albert Johnson with producer Steve Sherman.

Toronto blues veteran Jack de Keyzer led this year’s list with five nominations (along with two others for members of his band), and ultimately took home one award for electric act of the year.

The Blues with a Feeling Award for lifetime achievement went to Canadian roots legend Ken Whiteley and East Coast blues fixture Joe Murphy.

Among this year’s other Maple Blues Award winners were Colin Linden for songwriter of the year and Angel Forrest for female vocalist of the year.

Here are all the 2021 nominees for the Maple Blues Awards, with the winners in bold.

Entertainer of the Year
  • Dawn Tyler Watson
  • Downchild
  • Jack de Keyzer
  • JW-Jones
  • Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar
Electric Act of the Year
  • Dawn Tyler Watson & Ben Racine Band
  • Jack de Keyzer
  • JW-Jones
  • Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar
  • Sue Foley
Acoustic Act of the Year
  • Harrison Kennedy
  • Matt Andersen
  • Michael Jerome Browne
  • Rick Fines
Male Vocalist of the Year
  • Chuck Jackson
  • Harrison Kennedy
  • Jack de Keyzer
  • Jim Byrnes
  • Matt Andersen
Female Vocalist of the Year
  • Angel Forrest
  • Crystal Shawanda
  • Dawn Tyler Watson
  • Dione Taylor
  • Samantha Martin
New Artist of the Year
  • Dione Taylor
  • HOROJO Trio (Holmes, Rogers, Jones)
  • Liam Docherty
  • Matt Weidenger
  • Smoke Wagon Blues Band
Recording/Producer of the Year
  • Crystal Shawanda – Church House Blues (Dewayne Strobel)
  • Durham County Poets – Hand Me Down Blues (Bill Garrett)
  • Jack de Keyzer – Tribute (Jack de Keyzer)
  • JW-Jones – Sonic Departures (Eric Eggleston)
  • Smoke Wagon Blues Band – Ballad of Albert Johnson (Steve Sherman)
B.B. King International Artist of the Year
  • Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
  • Ghost Town Blues Band
  • Larkin Poe
  • Rick Estrin & The Nightcats
  • Victor Wainwright
Songwriter of the Year
  • Colin Linden
  • Crystal Shawanda/Dewayne Strobel
  • Dione Taylor
  • Kevin Harvey (Durham County Poets)
  • Paul Reddick
Blues With a Feeling Award (Lifetime Achievement Award)
  • Alec Fraser
  • Brent Parkin
  • Danny Brooks
  • Joe Murphy
  • Ken Whiteley
  • Michael Fonfara
  • Tom Lavin
Guitarist of the Year
  • Garrett Mason
  • Jack de Keyzer
  • JW-Jones
  • Sue Foley
  • Tony D (MonkeyJunk)
Harmonica Player of the Year
  • Guy Bélanger
  • Harpdog Brown
  • Paul Reddick
  • Roly Platt
  • Steve Marriner
Piano/Keyboard of the Year
  • David Vest
  • Duane Blackburn
  • Jesse O’Brien
  • Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne
  • Michael Kaeshammer
Horn Player of the Year
  • Jerry Cook (Harpdog Brown)
  • Mark LeClerc (Fuel Junkie)
  • Gordon Aeichele (Smoke Wagon Blues Band)
  • Richard Thornton (Jack de Keyzer Band)
  • Mat “Moose” Mousseau (Ben Racine Band)
Drummer of the Year
  • Cory Blackburn
  • Dani Nash (Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar)
  • Gary Craig (Colin Linden, Steve Dawson)
  • Lindsay Beaver
  • Matt Sobb (MonkeyJunk)
Bassist of the Year
  • Alan Duffy (Jack de Keyzer)
  • Alec Fraser
  • Gary Kendall
  • John Dymond (Steve Dawson, Big Dave McLean)
  • Keith Picot

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