Keeping the Blues Alive!

North Atlantic Blues Festival Recieves
Keeping the Blues Alive Award
Festival :: 2002

The growing success of the North Atlantic Blues Festival hit a high note this week with the Blues Foundation placing the local event’s promoters in an elite category.

Paul Benjamin and Jamie Isaacson will receive the “2002 Keeping the Blues Alive for Promoter Award” in Memphis this February.

Benjamin said he and Isaacson have been nominated in the past. He said the award carries significant weight in the Blues industry, likening it to the Academy Awards for the movie industry.

“In my heart, I wanted to win this, but I never expected to,” Benjamin said. “This is definitely a huge event, not only for the Blues Fest, but for this community.”

The Blues Foundation was formed in 1980 and has pushed to expand recognition and awareness of the Blues. The Keeping the Blues Alive Awards are used to recognize non-musicians for their supportive roles. Blues Foundation officials attended last July’s Blues Fest at Harbor Park, which experienced a 50 percent increase in attendance totaling 12,500 concertgoers.

“That doesn’t even count the people who came down for the Club Crawl,” Benjamin said. Benjamin said attendance reached 12,500 for the July event, marking a 50 percent increase over the 2000 event.

The award places Benjamin and Isaacson among some fairly elite company. Previous winners have included organizers for the San Francisco Blues Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival, events that average hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis. Benjamin said a former recipient told him that he was now “among a small elite group of individuals considered to be the top promoters in the world.”

The award will be presented at a Feb. 10 ceremony at the Gibson Guitar Plant in Memphis, Tenn. Benjamin expects the award ceremony to be covered by every blues publication, expanding recognition for the Rockland event.”

Story and photos courtesy of