Monday, May 23, 2016
I drove from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh last September to see Otis Clay and Billy Price perform one of just two shows scheduled in support of their then recent release "This Time for Real".
I must be getting old because I was wiped out after the 15 hour all night drive by myself. I used to be able to take a trip like that and then stay up all night, what was up? It wasn't so much the getting lost in a rough part of east Chicago and almost running out of gas around Midnight. It wasn't even when I had to pull over at an Indiana rest stop to rest my eyes so the double vision would go away and I wouldn't kill myself or, God forbid, others if I nod out behind the wheel. Truth is it was the short nap that I took after checking into my hotel room before the show.
Truth is when I woke up and realized I had already missed half the show I felt so stupid and foolish I could not get myself to leave my hotel. Lucky for me a good friend called right at that moment and told me to get my butt down to the show. Then when I walked into the theater I was greeted by a friendly familiar voice: "Jim? What are you doing in Pittsburgh?" It was my old friend Miki Mulvihill, who I first met many years earlier when she booked the famous Blues Saloon in Frogtown (St. Paul, MN).
Truth is what could have been one of the most futile and pointless trips in my life turned into something beautiful I will cherish the rest of my life. Although I only got to see the encore, I got to meet Billy and Otis, two artists I have seen several times before and greatly admired. Sadly Otis passed away suddenly just a few months later in January 2016.
Fortunately a good friend and film maker friend of Billy's and his crew filmed the show so everyone is blessed with the opportunity I nearly missed.
Friday, May 6, 2016
That is why I am so pleased to report that last night Otis Clay won two awards, Soul Blues Vocalist of the Year and Soul Blues Album of the Year for "This Time For Real" which he shared with his collaborator on the project, Billy Price. Unfortunately Mr. Clay, a Blues Music Hall of Famer, was not there to receive the awards having passed away suddenly from a heart attack this past January.
In accepting the award on their behalf, Price, one of the classiest people in the music industry, stated “My happiness at receiving this honor is tempered by my sadness at having to accept it alone. We honor and cherish the memory of Otis Clay every day.” Amen.
To all the cynical, conspiracy minded contrarians and internet trolls out there who may be thinking that Clay's awards were merely as a result of a posthumous act of sympathy, may I remind you that the album "This Time For Real" was released in May of 2015 over seven months prior to Clay's death in January 2016. During that time, the album received rave reviews including one gushing, over the top review by yours truly. But as you can see I was not alone in my praise.
If you have not heard "This Time For Real" it truly is wonderful and I highly recommend owning it in its tangible form because the cd, booklet and art work were a labor of love. It can be purchased at www.billyprice.com and www.otisclay.net.
Lastly, for anyone who will be in the Chicago area the weekend of June 11, 2016, the Crossroads stage at the Chicago Blues Fest is featuring a Soul and R n B day on Saturday June 11th headlined by Otis Clay's crack band tentatively scheduled for 4:15 pm to 5:30 pm. This year's line-up is one of the strongest in years (e.g. Shemekia Copeland, Curtis Salgado, Ronnie Earl, and BMA Entertainer of the Year Tommy Castro) and not to be missed.