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The 2006 International Blues Challenge
  By Big Dave

Phat noiZ To sum things up right away, just believe that this event is unparalleled for a musical adventure. The ambience of Beale Street was taken to the level of a music lovers paradise, with "the largest gathering of Blues bands in the World".

The adventure begins the moment you set foot on Beale, and start to feel the history and heritage of the Blues begin to move you. So many talented artists either called Memphis home, or simply followed the pull this musical magnet exerted on them. Spend a few hours at the Stax museum, and you'll not only learn of the Memphis legends like Rufus and Carla Thomas, or Memphis Slim, you'll see the connection of Ike Turner to the Memphis region, and how intertwined St. Louis is in the origin of the Blues.

This year marked a milestone, as a St. Louis band - Phat noiZ - was competing in the band semi-finals, but also competing for "best self-produced CD". We caught Phat noiZ the second night of semi-finals, performing at Wet Willies on Beale, down near Handy park. A small microphone issue forced Frank to play his sax over the vocal mic until the problem was resolved, but once his sax mic was working, Frank simply wailed! As typical for any Phat noiZ performance, Alvin, Frank, Matt & Jeremy put on a stellar performance to a SRO house of fans, and the audience obviously loved the band as much as the band was enjoying the moment!

Phat noiZ didn't make the finals, but as a judge at the IBC, I can attest to how very hard it is to select from the 'best of the best', as each one of the IBC semi-finalists were! Making it to the IBC semi-finals meant they were among the best of their hometown - with 10 countries and countless cities & Blues Societies represented. Just reaching this level of competition made each one of these bands a winner, in my opinion.

STLBlues was honored to provide 3 judges for this competition - our Memphis Street Teamer Mr. Jim Mills, himself a very talented Memphis based artist - Mr. James Von Tellrop AKA "Big Jim', our West Coast Street Teamer, and myself. We want to thank Jay, Joe and Percy of the Blues Foundation for pulling off the 22nd Annual IBC as smoothly as they did, as it's an enormous undertaking of logistics, volunteers, and musicians combining to make this event a true success. See you at the 2007 IBC - let's have a even bigger St. Louis presence!

2006 IBC Winners
Winners of the IBC
Joey Gilmore and Eden Brent
Eden Brent, sponsored by Blues Foundation affiliate, Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola MS, was judged best in the solo/duo competition Saturday afternoon. During the finals competition, Eden had her keyboard die suddenly in the middle of a song, and without skipping a beat, she jumped right over to the nearby piano and finished her set to a roaring ovation! An electrifying performer and consumate professional, she was well deserving of her victory!

Joey Gilmore, the South Florida Blues Society representative took first place honors in the band division Saturday night. Last year Joey initially won 1st place, only to lose on a technicality. You can't keep a good bluesman down, so Joey came back to prove that last year was no fluke, and won the 2006 band finals!

Aunt Kizzy'z Boyz, with the Blues Lovers United of San Diego finished second and Jill West and Blues Attack (Blues Society of Western PA) placed third. The Albert King Award for most promising guitarist was awarded to Zack Weisinger with the Jill West and Blues Attack.

IBC Finalists

1. Aunt Kizzy'z Boyz -- Blues Lovers United of San Diego

2.Big Robert T & the Scene of the Crime -- Atlanta Blues Society

3. Lil Cliff and the Cliffhangers -- Downstate NY Blues Association

4. The Mercury Brothers -- (Iowa Affiliates)

5. The Eoff Brothers Band -- Ozark Blues Society of Northwest Arkansas

6. Joey Gilmore -- South Florida Blues Society

7. Michael John & The Bottom Line -- Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society

8. Jill West and Blues Attack -- Blues Society of Western PA

9. The Forty Fours -- Southern California Blues Society

10. A.J.& the Two Tone Blues Band -- Sonny Boy Blues Society

11. Mr Nicks Blues Mafia -- Boston Blues Society

IBC Solo / Duo Finalists

The solo/duo finalists that went head to head at the sold-out Center for Southern Folklore Saturday afternoon were:

1. Ben Prestage -- Blues Alliance of the Treasure Coast FL

2. Joe Price -- (Iowa Affiliates)

3. Eden Brent -- Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola MS

4. Noah Earle -- Kansas City Blues Society KS

5. Tommy Keys -- Long Island Blues society

6. Julien Brunestaud & Gullaume Nouax -- Blues Sur Seine

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