B.B. King, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash Score Grammys

Blues, folk, country greats honored, along with Taj Mahal, Dave Alvin, Béla Fleck, Alison Brown, Louis Armstrong.

The thrill is nowhere near gone for B.B. King.

The blues great racked up his 10th and 11th Grammy awards Wednesday night (February 21), winning Best Traditional Blues Album for Riding With the King, a collaboration with blues-rocker Eric Clapton, and Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for "Is You Is or Is You Ain't (My Baby)," a duet with Dr. John.

Riding With the King, with its John Hiatt-penned title track, beat out King's Let the Good Times Roll as well as Willie Nelson's Milk Cow Blues, Robert Lockwood Jr.'s Delta Crossroads and Superharps, by the harmonica collective of James Cotton, Billy Branch, Charlie Musselwhite and Sugar Ray Norcia. It's the 15th Grammy for Clapton, who also won the 1994 Best Traditional Blues Album award for From the Cradle.

"It's still exciting," King said. "I've never won two in one day. It's something that we put our hearts in," he said of Riding With the King. "I do that every time, but every day is different. And if I play each day as I feel, sometimes it's better."

"Is You Is or Is You Ain't (My Baby)" appears on Let the Good Times Roll.

So where does King keep all his awards? "I carry them to my little place, sleep near some, and put the others where I can see them."

Taj Mahal and the Phantom Blues Band earned the Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for their Shoutin' in Key, an eclectic live set recorded in 1998 in Los Angeles. It's Mahal's second Grammy; he won the same award in 1997 for Senor Blues. Other nominees included Shemekia Copeland, Bobby Rush, Koko Taylor and the North Mississippi Allstars.

In the folk category, Emmylou Harris beat out Steve Earle, Johnny Cash, Hiatt and Billy Bragg and Wilco for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Consisting mainly of songs Harris wrote herself — in contrast to her recent albums, including 1995's Wrecking Ball, which also won the award — the atmospheric and often meditative album features appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Kate McGarrigle and crack guitarist Buddy Miller.

"It's a tough category every year, and I think a lot of it had to do with my record company — they came into the weaving so much, and they really believed there's an audience out there in my field," Harris said. "And I think that's something other people in this business can learn — that you don't just have to depend on radio."

Ex-Blaster Dave Alvin's Public Domain — Songs from the Wild Land, a collection of folk standards, such as "Shenendoah" and "Walk Right In," as well as more obscure tunes, took home Best Traditional Folk Album. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Norman Blake, Natalie MacMaster and Jo-El Sonnier also were nominated.

"This is great. That's all I gotta say," Alvin said of the award.

Dolly Parton's The Grass Is Blue, featuring such notables as mandolin player Sam Bush and singer Claire Lynch, beat out Ricky Skaggs and Alison Brown for Best Bluegrass Album. After Parton's career of mainstream Nashville and crossover pop success, The Grass Is Blue is her first all-bluegrass disc. It featured an eclectic mix of songs, from Billy Joel's "Travelin' Prayer" to the Louvin Brothers' "Cash on the Barrelhead" to the standard "Silver Dagger." It earned Parton her sixth Grammy award.

Best Country Instrumental Performance went to Brown and jazz/bluegrass banjo player Béla Fleck for "Leaving Cottondale," a track from the Harvard graduate and former investment banker Brown's Fair Weather album. Fleck also won the Best Contemporary Jazz Album award for Outbound, bringing his career Grammy haul to five.

Country legend Johnny Cash won his 10th Grammy, Best Male Country Vocal Performance, for his cover of Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" on his album of the same name. Cash, who will turn 69 on Monday, was released Wednesday from a Nashville hospital after a bout of pneumonia.

On the downside for folk fans, The Best of Broadside 1962-1988, which compiled tracks from such folk legends as Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs from Broadside magazine's archives, lost out for Best Historical Recording to Louis Armstrong's The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings.

The inaugural Best Native American Music Album award went to Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, a collection of drum-circle recordings and other traditional American Indian music produced by Tom Bee, who began petitioning the Grammys for a Native American music category in 1990.

(Click here for a complete list of winners.)