Saturday, February 11, 2012

2012 International Blues Challenge - Wrapping Up!

So the 2012 International Blues Challenge was one of the best ever.  The competition was over the top. So much, that the judging had to be one of the toughest jobs in Memphis this year!  One of the things I realized, as a blues fan and a photographer...  it is easy to love doing both at the same time, but dont forget to wear earplugs, especially when you are right next to the speaker!

The bands played in order listed below, with The WIRED! Band, from the Washington Blues Society taking first; The Bart Walker Band, from The Nashville Blues Society taking second; and Paula Harris from the Golden Gate Blues Society taking third.
The WIRED! Band

Paula Harris
The Bart Walker Band

The single/duo acts played in order listed below, with Ray Bonneville, from the Ozark Blues Society of Northwest Arkansas, taking first place; and Dr. Don's Double Dose, from the Sydney Blues Society, taking second.

Ray Bonneville

Dr Don's Double Dose
D'Mar & Gill

I have posted quite a few photos of the each band and single/duo act in competition (and some in quarterfinals or semifinals) here:

Friday, February 3, 2012

2012 International Blues Challenge - Day 1 & 2

Street Performer doing flips down Beale
One of the passions I have is around blues music, and the photography it creates.  I have had the pleasure to travel to one of the world's premiere events this year. That's right, the International Blues Challenge (IBC), held on Beale Street in Memphis, TN.  Here are some interesting facts about this year's IBC, taken from

2012 International Blues Challenge by the Numbers!
IBC will be held January 31- February 4 2012 in 20 venues in the Beale Street Historic District. That is 5 days consisting of over 575 performances by 226 acts. The 2012 challenge will bring 748 musicians from 40 states and a record 16 countries to downtown Memphis, Tennessee for the largest gathering of Blues artists…in the history of the World! To produce an event of this size it will take over 200 volunteers and 108 judges to pick the top acts from this colossal gathering. Complete IBC 2012 information can be found on the IBC page.

The Grand Marquis
What I find most intriguing at the IBC is the amount of talent of all the musicians that migrate to Memphis each year around this time.  There are acts that play all kinds of styles of blues, delta, chicago, jump, piedmont, rock, and a combination of all.  I don't necessarily have a favorite style, but I know what moves me, and that is a band that is tight, and can grab my attention.

So far this trip, in the last two days, I've seen around 20 different bands (see list below), all which sounded deserving to go on to the semi-finals.  Linda Shell and the Blues Thang represented Kansas City very well in the band competition, however that Kansas City Blues Society elected band did not make the cut to go on.  The competition is fierce here!  Jake Briscoe, the KCBS elected single/duo act made the crowd rise to its feet, but like Linda Shell and the Blues Thang, succumbed to the fierce competition in his venue as well.  I truly felt that the representation from Kansas City was poised to go far in this year's competition.  It just wasn't the case this year.

Mary Bridget Davies Group
Mary Bridget Davies brought her possie to Memphis to perform in the Blind Raccoon Showcase.  This showcase was held in The Superior Room, right on Beale Street.  Also performing from Kansas City were Levee Town as well as The Grand Marquis.

And last, but certainly not least, The Unlimited Blues Band represented Kansas City nicely in the Youth Band Jam Showcase at the Hard Rock on Wednesday evening.  Cassie Taylor, daughter of Blues Music Award winner Otis Taylor, ran the Youth showcase jam session.  There were dozens of other youth paired up with each other, not necessarily in their own group.  It was over the top!

The Unlimited Blues Band, which range in age from 13-18, are planning to light the Rum Boogie stage up at 4:40 PM Friday, February 3.  There are around 21 youth bands from around the United States performing in the IBC Youth Band Showcase this year.  As found on the IBC contestant page,
Levee Town
"The Unlimited Blues Band The band was united by local musicians and the KC Blues Society community. Sammy Sullenger(drums)and Clayton Worley (guitar) had previously performed together and are the roots of this band. Kayla Rodriguez became the vocalist and soon after Kayla Bowers became the bassists for the band. This band is passionate about music, writes some original material, and plays traditional blues. They are the pride of The Kansas City Blues Society. You won’t want to miss an opportunity to hear this band. They are going places!" 
Cassie Taylor with Kayla Rodriguez

That's it for now.  I hope you like the update on Beale happenings.  Good Blues to You! 

Bands seen (in no particular order):
  • Linda Shell and the Blues Thang - Kansas City Blues Society
  • Jake Briscoe - Kansas City Blues Society
  • The Unlimited Blues Band (Youth)- Kansas City Blues Society
  • Levee Town - KC
  • Mary Bridget Davies Group - KC
  • The Grand Marquis - KC
  • *Two Blue (Josh Vowel) - Topeka Blues Society
  • Nick Hern Band - Topeka Blues Society
  • Trent Romens (Youth) - Greater Twin Cities Blues Music Society
  • Arthur James - Granite State Blues Society
  • *Jill West and Blues Attack - Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania
  • *Blues Dragon - South Florida Blues Society
  • *The Bart Walker Band - Nashville Blues Society
  • *The Candymakers - Iowa Blues Societies
  • *Mike Bourne Band featuring Stoney Brooks - Atlanta Blues Society
  • *The Blues Expressions - Decatur Blues Society
  • The Kim Pollard Band - Loyal Blues Fellowship (Canada)
  • *Jeremiah Johnson and the Sliders - St. Louis Blues Society
  • *Pistol Pete Blues Band - Windy City Blues Society
  • The Porkroll Project - Billtown Blues Association (Philly)
  • *Little Jake and the Soul Searchers - North Central Florida Blues Society
  • Gary Sellers Band - Long Island Blues Society
  • House of Dues - Piedmont Blues Preservation Society (North Carolina)
  • *D'Mar and Gill - Central Mississippi Blues Society 
* indicates acts that made it to the semi-finals