Part of the Ike Turner philosophy is that he'll play with just about anybody. For example, he appears on a few tracks on an album that was released last month. "They knew me, but I didn't know them," Turner said.

On their debut album, Roughhousin', Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials performed a song called "Car Wash Blues," in which Lil' Ed Williams referred to the "mean old Jew" who was his boss.

There was one problem: Ed still worked at the car wash, and he was petrified about what might happen to him when his boss heard it.

"It's such a wonderful gathering of bands," says Marcia Ball of the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, and she should know. Not only has Ball made three previous appearances at the event, but she's emerged as one of the most acclaimed figures in music, a mainstay of the professional blues circuit for nearly 25 years.

Deanna Bogart's first appearance at the Mississippi Valley Blues Fest five years ago was so successful that a local Davenport club whose name she can't remember - but based on the general location and description, we think it might have been Boozie's Bar & Grill - invited her to play a gig.

When asked what message he hopes to convey with his music, the acclaimed singer, songwriter, guitarist, and social activist Willie King has a simple yet profound answer: "Love. To love everybody and have respect for everybody.

Beverly "Guitar" Watkins learned to play and sing the blues in a small town in Georgia. "Commerce" was its name. It was here at the age of eight (more than 50 years ago) that she received her first guitar as a Christmas present.

Douglas Ewart works with his hands, and that's not just because he's a musician. The Chicago-based Ewart not only composes and plays but builds his own instruments, creates artwork for performances, and designs and makes the costumes for himself and his band.

Magic Slim is somebody who refuses to be denied. He started out playing piano, but in a cotton-gin accident he lost a finger on his right hand - "the main finger," he said - and couldn't manage the instrument.

Also when he was a child, he built a guitar with baling wire from a broom, and "my momma beat my ass," Magic Slim said in a recent phone interview.

The purpose of the RiverRoad Award (as the Mississippi Valley Blues Society [MVBS] "a river runs through it" guitar logo attests) is to honor those artists who have devoted their lives to bringing what we call "river" blues - music that runs deep with emotion, like a river of the soul - to anyone they meet on life's highways.

A.C. Reed: 1989

Aaron Moore: 1997

Albert Collins: 1993

Algia Mae Hinton: 2001

Alley Gaiters: 1986

Alvin "Little Pink" Anderson: 2002

Alvin Youngblood Hart: 1998, 2002

Andy Bush: 1993

Ann Peebles: 1992

Ann Rabson: 1999, 2004

Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets Featuring Sam Meyers: 1988, 1995

Anthony Gomes: 2001

Archie Edwards: 1993

Armstrong, Bogan, & Armstrong: 1989

Aron Burton & Jack Johnson: 1995

Audrey & The Blue Kats: 1991