The 16th Annual Blues Blast Music Awards comes to Peoria for the … – Peoria Public Radio

The annual Blues Blast Music Awards (BBMAs) will be held in Peoria for the first time. This after holding court at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago for a few years and venues at other sites.

This 2-day national awards show featuring live performances from the nominees will be this Friday and Saturday at the 3300 Event Center.

Blues Blast Magazine publisher and editor Bob Keiser says he has been organizing the BBMAs since 2008. Keiser’s River City roots go back to the 1970s, when he started publishing an independent newspaper, titled the “Lead Sheet,” which informed readers where musical artists were playing in Peoria.

Keiser established the Blue Blast Magazine and the BBMAs to give recognition to blues artists, but another goal was to keep the art of the blues alive.

“It’s pretty obvious that the blues isn’t going anywhere,” Keiser said, pointing to emerging modern blues artists, such as Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and Dylan Triplett as examples of how the blues genre is still thriving. “But it is something that, if you don’t provide people with the blues, they don’t really even understand what it is.”

Keiser says he has been a musician his entire life, has taught music for 25 to 30 years, and cites a clear passion for both music – the blues in particular.

“It’s a passion, I can’t put it down,” he said.

Keiser said he’s bringing the BBMAs to Peoria partly as a desire to engage with the Peoria blues scene, partly to bring a cultural benefit to the city.

“There’s not a lot of African American events like this,” Keiser said, referencing the cultural roots of the blues genre. “Blues is an African American art form.”

Keiser also pointed to Peoria’s significance within the history of the blues genre, including the annual Peoria Blues and Heritage Festival, and Alligator Records artist Luther Allison, who lived in Peoria and worked at Caterpillar.

The show is also coming to Peoria High School and the Glen Oak Community Learning Center, in coordination with the music education program, Blues in the Schools. Keiser said a full band show will be at both schools, and that Blues in Schools seeks to put on performances for students and educate students about the art form and its history.

Keiser said the Blues Blast Music Awards Show isn’t just for blues fans and enthusiasts. He added it’s a chance for novices and newcomers to the genre of blues to understand and appreciate the art form.

“I think this an opportunity if you are not familiar with blues, what you’re gonna find out is that you like the blues, it’s hard not to,” Keiser said, illustrating that the awards show will showcase a range of performers. “We’re gonna give you a chance to hear it in just about every style that there is.”

Performances are being held at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 22, which will be a benefit for Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research, and the awards show will be held at 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 23. Tickets and info can be found at the Blues Blast Music Awards website.

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