I must admit. I do love the attention . . .

. . . The Blue Highway has received since its first days on the Web in March 1995. That was back in the Dark Ages of blues on the Internet. Blues-L, the listserv that I credit for fanning some smoldering blues ember in me, numbered about 400 subscribers when I signed up in April 1994. Now it's about 800 strong, and its mirrored newsgroup is read by thousands more.

In the Web world back then, there were a mere half-dozen blues sites. Rob Hutten's BluesNet was the first. Rob's the undisputed trailblazer. P.W. Fenton & The Second Ward were up there. That's Tampa Bay's best and the Web's first ever blues band. Tom Morgan up in Virginia had a site back then. So did the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss. They publish Living Blues magazine.

There were a few blues FTP sites: Pamela Koch's Blues Shed at Auburn University and a place to download jazz and blues images at New Jersey Tech in Newark. That was about it, though Gary Joneson's BluesWEB soon followed, as did a Robert Johnson site over at London Calling. But about three years after The Blue Highway came to town, I count more than 1,000 blues sites out there! And I'm sure I'm missing a bunch!

So here's where I give my greatest and grateful thank you to every visitor there ever was to The Blue Highway, and to every kind e-mailer and contributor -- young and old, rookie and veteran, from Manchester to Manila to that sweet woman from Maine -- who has paused to share that special joy that is our blues. We laugh, we cry, we drink, we sing. We sure do pitch a wang dang doodle, don't we? So it really is my great pleasure to do this thing. Thanks again.

And I also need to thank a few special powers that have helped to bring us together for this celebration of the blues. That's what follows.

NCSARemember NCSA? That's the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois. They released Mosaic -- the first truly great Web browser -- back in November 1993. In a year, Web traffic soared 1,000 percent. So to get a link from NCSA's What's New was a big damn deal. I was impressed anyway, and in May 1995, The Blue Highway started taking up to 600 hits a day.

Web Review * * * *In June 1995, an editor from GNN's Whole Internet Catalog asked me to contribute to a weekly Web feature called the Celebrity Hotlist, in which I mused on some of my favorite sites. About then, some more folks from GNN -- that's Global Network Navigator -- started coming around. In July 1995, The Blue Highway was reviewed in the first edition of Web Review, another GNN project.

Point Top 5% Of All Web SitesPoint, now Lycos, came calling in September 1995, handing this great honor to The Blue Highway -- a ranking among the top 5 percent of all Web sites. Then in December 1995, The Blue Highway was included in their book "The World Wide Web Top 1000," which is, of course, available at fine bookstores everywhere.

GNN Best of the Net Nominee 1995The fun was just beginning. In October 1995, I was told by the folks back at GNN that The Blue Highway had been nominated for their Best of the Net award, in the Arts & Entertainment, Amateur Sites category. That was a big deal, too -- the Web's equivalent to the Grammies. It didn't win, but hey, it certainly was in the race.

USA TodayAlso in October 1995, The Blue Highway merited a blurb in the Life section of the national newspaper USA Today. And I was especially grateful for similar mentions in two particular newspapers: the Chicago Tribune and the Memphis Commercial Appeal -- representing the two biggest blues centers in the world.

C-T's Top 500It was also about this time that the veteran Web chroniclers at CyberTeddy found a place for The Blue Highway on their "Awesome Universal WebSite 500" list, where it remains today, along with CNN Interactive, The White House, and 497 others. This distinction earned the Highway the precious little critter you see here.

Cool Music Site of the WeekIt was very nice to hear from the folks at CDnow -- the Internet's premier CD outlet -- in November 1995. They named The Blue Highway their Cool Music Site of the Week for the week of November 24. And speaking of cool, right about that time, Yahoo! -- the Web's legendary search tool -- began to recognize The Blue Highway as one of their very coolshadeslinks.

Webcrawler SelectIt was also about this time that Webcrawler added The Blue Highway to their Webcrawler Select links under the category of Entertainment, Musical Genres -- one of just three blues sites so dubbed. AOL used Webcrawler, and this link put the Highway just three clicks away from millions of AOL subscribers.

Internet Underground net top 10The Blue Highway has also found its way into a few Internet-related print magazines. The first was The Net back in July 1995 -- in a directory called The Blue Pages. In February 1996, Internet Underground, now a Ziff-Davis publication, found a place for The Blue Highway in its monthly net top ten.

Magellan * * * *The Magellan Internet Guide folks also stopped by in February 1996, and The Blue Highway did pretty damn well by their standards, earning three of their four stars. Then sometime later, maybe about a year later, the Highway picked up that fourth and final star. Thank you very much, guys!

AFROLinks Flavour of the WeekOf all the online awards The Blue Highway has received, I'm especially fond of this one: NETLiNkS! Flavour of the Week. That was back on March 4, 1996. NETLiNkS, formerly AFROLinks, honors the very best of the African-American related Web sites. This particular nod means a whole lot to me.

Plug InIn April 1996, Prentice Hall published the long-anticipated (by me, anyway) book Plug In: The Guide to Music on the Net by Ted M. Gurley and W.T. Pfefferle. I owe them both my great thanks for featuring The Blue Highway, and the blues, so prominently throughout. Thanks, Ted. Thanks, Bob. Thanks, too, embee.

Four GlobesIt was in May 1996 that The Blue Highway began to grace the links at NetNoir -- the African-American heritage site that is also known to its many faithful as "The Soul of Cyberspace." In presenting their "4-Globe" rating, the editors at NetNoir wrote, "The paths weave here to make these pages on the Blues the best on the World Wide Web."

Music Central Catch of the WeekSome kind soul at Microsoft® Music Central browsed The Blue Highway, and in June 1996, it was recognized as the CyberTuna Catch of the Week. The reviewer called The Blue Highway "the main drag for blues fans," and ya gotta like that. So now I guess I'll have to start calling Microsoft nicer things, too.

CNN InteractiveSeptember 20, 1996. Sci-Tech writer Kristin Lemmerman at CNN Interactive featured The Blue Highway in an article called "Sites for the ear: Web provides sound foundation in music history." She wrote, in part, "In language and attitude, this site strikes a somewhat unconventional pose, but for the blues, it works." Thanks, Kristin, and Ted Turner, and James Earl Jones, and Larry King, and Christiane Amanpour, and ....

Connect-TimeIt sure was nice to have the folks from Connect-Time magazine over here in November 1996. The Blue Highway was featured in their Discovery column after having been recommended by a visitor. Their syndicated newspaper insert goes out to 60 papers and 15 million readers a month!

Cool Site of the HourThe people over at Cool Central have come up with a concept that is either entirely Web-wise or absolutely absurd. I can't decide. But nonetheless, on November 8, 1996 at 7 AM (PST), The Blue Highway became their official Cool Site of the Hour! Sixty sweet minutes of fame, and I overslept!

WWWA Top 10 SitesGot a nice pre-holiday gift from World Wide Web Associates on December 19, 1996. They named The Blue Highway to their top 10 list of music sites, putting it, as they say, "in the top 1/10th of 1% of your category." And the Highway was up for their "Best Site of the Year Award," which earned the winner a trip to Hawaii.

Yahoo! Internet LifeThe Blue Highway saw a huge boost in traffic in January 1997 when Yahoo! Internet Life magazine published their reviews of the Web's top blues sites. The reviewer wrote, "Get on The Blue Highway, and you will have entered a large stretch of Internet where just about any blues fan can find something of interest." So here's a little bit of thanks, Yahoo!, for putting up one big damn signpost.

Up-Set ApprovedThe Blue Highway received this pleasant distinction in February 1997 when OurSquare added it to its list of select links. Select is right. OurSquare is an "interset" site created by Up-Set and the Desiderata Alliance, Inc., that is only accessible to students and alums of the Ivy League, Stanford, Northwestern, MIT, and a half-dozen other prestigious academic institutions.

UK OnlineThe Blue Highway was honored in April 1997 to gain the high approval of my new friends across the pond at UK Online -- the mega-service provider based in Somerset, England. At last count, The Blue Highway was one of a mere dozen music sites to earn such a recommendation. Blimey!

The Web MagazineWhoa! If you check out the May 1997 issue of The Web Magazine, you'll see The Blue Highway listed and reviewed among their "Hot 5" music sites for the month. They like all the photos "of landmark juke joints, gravestones, and highways" and stuff, but especially seem to love "the mammoth, well-organized links section," cuz they say, "Woulda made Bessie Smith proud." I surely do hope so.

BillboardThe May 10 issue of Billboard magazine -- the music industry bible -- featured a cyberblues review by columnist Brett Atwood. In it, he wrote, "The Blue Highway . . . contains comprehensive essays on various travels through what the site calls 'the land where the blues began,' including photos and stories from a seven-day road trip along the Delta." So thanks for that, Brett, and Billboard.

Web_Guide MagazineThe new Web_Guide Magazine reviewed some 15 blues sites in its September/October 1997 issue and gave special attention to four of them, including this one. James Porteous called The Blue Highway "a genuine work of art" and seemed especially happy with The Delta Log and The Gutbucket. I gotta say I'm happy for that and hope you'll enjoy them as much as he did.

MaMaMediaFolks from the new and exciting kids' Internet magazine MaMaMedia came by in late 1997, and in their second issue, they included The Blue Highway in a funky Web trek called "Shaking the Blues." Thanks, MGang, for finding your way here past the bluebirds, blue whales, blue cheese, blue jeans, and blueberry pie!

Incredibly Useful SOTDHappy New Year! The editors at Yahoo! Internet Life came calling again on New Year's Eve to name The Blue Highway their Incredibly Useful Site of the Day for December 31! And I see they haven't categorized The Blue Highway under Music or even Entertainment, but Education. I like that!

Detroit Free PressAnother very nice kudo came thisa way on Sunday, January 11, 1998, when Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press featured The Blue Highway in a Web Sitings article entitled "Berth of the blues." Terry wrote, "if you're considering your own trip to the source, you need to make your first stop www.thebluehighway.com." Thanks much, Terry, and my best to y'all up there in the Motor City.

This award comes from The Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee -- the same folks who present the annual W.C. Handy Awards to the world's best blues musicians. The Keeping the Blues Alive award was presented to The Blue Highway in 1998 for its "significant contribution to the Blues world." Thank you very much.

Gibson Musical Instruments was a sponsor of The Blues Foundation's 1998 Keeping the Blues Alive awards. In May 1998, they featured The Blue Highway in their regular Cyber Riffs column. They said the "love for the blues seeps through the monitor." That brought a few folks out!

Well, this one sure took me by surprise, and I'm still not sure of all the details, but sometime in mid-May 1998, The Blue Highway merited a mention on New York City's cable television news channel NY1. If you know what this was all about, please drop me a line and let me know!

But above all, I'll always thank most the men and women who gave us the blues all those years ago. And as promising a future as the Web may hold, I'll always remember that it was the phonograph, the radio, the $3 guitar, and a whole lot of soul that got us here. Walk on.

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