Super Chikan honored at Blues Music Awards

Super Chikan honored at Blues Music Awards
May 12, 2010
y Billy Howell
Clarksdale Press Register

MEMPHIS–One Clarksdale musician and two other Mississippians with Delta ties won Blues Music Awards (BMA’s) at the 31st BMA’s held Friday night.

The BMA’s-- universally recognized as the highest – honor that can be given to blues musicians honor professional blues artists and recordings in 26 categories.

“The BMA’s are like the Blues Grammy Awards and it’s wonderful for Mississippi to have them presented in Memphis so close to the state,” said Cat Head Owner Roger Stolle. “We always have a good representation at the awards.”

Clarksdale native James “Super Chikan” Johnson, who was nominated for four awards this year, won a BMA for Traditional Blues Album of the Year.

“Super Chikan is one of the living, breathing, joking performers who help keep the blues alive,” said Stolle. “If you see him in Kroger, he is just as much a performer there as he is at Ground Zero. He is a born entertainer.

“Real blues characters are not one way on stage and another off stage. Per capita, Mississippi has more blues characters than anywhere else in the world.”

Johnson’s album, “Chikadelic,” has been in the making for more than three years. It was recorded in Clarksdale’s sister city, Notodden, Norway and features James Johnson and Norway's leading blues band, Spoonful of Blues.

The album was produced by harmonica ace Jostein Forsberg and recorded at Notodden's Juke Joint Studio using the original recording system from the old Stax Record Studios in Memphis. Chikadelic features 13 tracks of original Delta blues.

“I have been looking for the right one for years,”Johnson said about his sixth album. “I was nominated for Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Entertainer of the Year and Album of the Year. So, I won album of the year, and I think album of the year covered them all.”

He performed “Fred’s Dollar Store,” which was nominated for Song of the Year, during the award ceremony. LaLa Craig, who has been playing with Johnson for seven years, assisted him on the keyboards during the ceremony.

“The whole thing was like a dream within a dream,” said Craig. “It was my first time to attend the BMA’s, and it was the biggest night of my life. I am so proud of Super Chikan.”

Cedric Burnside, grandson of legendary bluesman R.L. Burnside, won a BMA for Drum Instrumentalist. Cedric Burnside and Steve "Lightnin'" Malcolm play in the Clarksdale area often, and the duo won Best New Artist Debut at last year’s BMA’s for their album “2 Man Wrecking Crew.”

“Cedric, who is the grandson of R.L. is the future of the blues,” Stolle said.

Greenville native Eden Brent, who won two BMA’s at the 2009 awards ceremony, was presented the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Award this year by the legendary master blues pianist Pinetop Perkins himself.

Famous blues singer and harpist Charlie Musselwhite, who also helped teach a class last week at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale and who has a large exhibit honoring him located in the museum, was inducted during a special ceremony into the Blues hall of Fame along with Bonnie Raitt and Lonnie Brooks.
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