*FEATURING* JIMI 'PRIME TIME' SMITH

1998 Minnesota Music Hall of Fame Awards

Big Walter Smith first blues musician inducted into
Minnesota Music Hall of Fame
. ~By Karl Bremer

Big Walter and Shirley B Smith

Big Walter Smith and his wife, Shirley Smith, at the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame Awards. Photo Copyright © 1998-2000 Karl Bremer.

Big Walter Smith, Minnesota’s most honored and recognized bluesman, added another award to his mantle on November 13, 1998 when he became the first blues musician to be inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.

Smith accepted the handsome etched-glass award at the Hall of Fame’s 10th annual induction ceremony and banquet in New Ulm. Minneapolis’ “Big Man of the Blues,” a fixture on the Upper Midwest’s blues scene for the past 25 years, was dressed to the nines in a sharp black tux with a rose in one lapel and his trademark diamond-studded star pin on the other. He was accompanied at the ceremony by his wife, Shirley, past and present members of his band, the Groove Merchants, family members and friends.

There’s hardly a Minnesota music award that hasn’t been bestowed on Big Walter Smith both individually and with his band: Minnesota Blues Society Hall of Fame (first inductee), Twin Cities Blues News Best Blues Band (1997), Minnesota Blues Society Horn Band (1995), Minnesota Blues Society Male Vocalist (1989), Minnesota Black Music Award R&B Horn Band (1988, 1987), Minnesota Blues Society Recognition Award (1988), Minnesota Black Music Award Male Vocalist (1987, 1986, 1984, 1983). He was featured in Living Blues magazine in 1997.

Minnesota Music Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony | The Groove Merchants Band

Big Walter Smith (center) and the Groove Merchants at the November 13, 1998
Minnesota Music Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony.
Photo Copyright © 1998-2000 Karl Bremer.

Smith joins the likes of Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, “Whoopee” John Wilfahrt, Bobby Vee and Eddie Cochran in the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. Other 1998 inductees are: Sounds of Blackness, Clem Rohde, the Kahle Brothers and the Sammy Jensen Orchestra. The Minnesota Music Hall of Fame Museum temporarily is housed at Randall’s Café in New Ulm but will be moving to a new location in New Ulm next year.

This review is copyright © 1998-2000 by Karl Bremer, all rights reserved

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