The Blues Foundation like to call the Blues Music Awards (formerly the Handy Awards) the Music's Most Prestigious Awards, yet unlike other major music awards such as the Grammies or the Country Music Awards, the Blues Music Awards are not limited to industry personal but anyone who is willing to pay the dues to be a member can vote for the BMAs. And apparently vote for their favorite performers and stuff the ballot as opposed to vote for the best recording or artist viewed in a mythical more detached manner.
Tommy Castro was winner for Entertainer of the Year as well as his disc, Painkiller, was selected Contemporary Blues Album of 2008. On his website, Castro writes (with the bolded italics added by me),
It was a great night in Tunica, Mississippi for me and the band. I really want to thank everyone who took the time to vote for us. I say "us" because "Painkiller," of course, was a group effort. I had a lot of help. And I wouldn't be much of an entertainer without a kick-ass band behind me either. So I share these awards with everyone who had a part in the making of "Painkiller" and all those who are involved in keeping this band working and doing what we do best, which is performing live. I realize a lot of you joined The Blues Foundation so you could cast your votes. It's a fine organization and I think you will enjoy your membership.
I do not mean to belabor the point but the notion of artist's soliciting votes raises questions of just how prestigious the BMAs really are.
BTW here is my review of Painkiller as it appeared in Spring 2007.
"The popular Tommy Castro has a new Blind Pig disc, Painkiller, that certainly appear for his pop-soul-rock-blues songs that certainly go down easy with some nice singing and playing as well as catchy pop-like songs. Song’s like Mike Schermer’s Big Sister Radio (which certainly will appeal to much of Castro’s audience) and Castro’s Goin’ Down South (with a nice Crescent City flavor to the groove on a song that would be at home on contemporary country radio) have lyrics with nice hooks and are nicely delivered by Castro who is a very good singer and guitarist, with a solid band backing him (although Castro’s sax player Keith Crosnan comes off at times like a Clarence Clemons clone) Coco Montoya guests on a nice reworking of Albert Collins’ A Good Man Is Hard to Find, with fine singing and fretwork from the two. The last number, It Ain’t Easy Being Me, David Maxwell providing a barrelhouse blues piano background behind Castro’s amiable vocal ending a varied and extremely entertaining set."
While I liked Painkiller, it did not make my list of Outstanding Blues of 2007. Click on that link for the list of 2007 blues CDs I believe are superior to Mr. castro's entry.