Kim 'Fest Junkie' Welsh
International Blues Challenge news, from Kim 'Who Dat' Welsh
Blues societies all over the globe are holding competitions to find their very best blues performers to compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis on January 31 ~ February 4th, 2012.
Each of the 190 Blues Foundation affiliates have the opportunity to sponsor one or more acts in the IBC in the Solo/Duo, Band, and Youth categories. These blues societies are from the United States, Canada, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Croatia, Netherlands, Spain, Poland, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Israel, and Norway. Nominations for the Blues Music Award, which has a 30 year history and was formerly known as the W. C. Handy Awards, are competing for what is considered the highest award a blues artist can receive for excellence in their craft. Artists whose names have appeared on the final ballot for the Blues Music Awards have achieved a level of recognition within the Blues world that sets them apart from other Blues artists and is a measuring stick by which a successful career in Blues music can be gauged.
The judges use established scoring criteria to determine winners based on five categories of performance. The performance can last up to 25 minutes and there are penalties for not adhering to time limits.
The categories include:
1. Blues content: Everyone has their own interpretation of what is within the spectrum of “blues.” Musicians are cautioned to pick material carefully, using what is referred to as the “NO Mustang Sally rule” as judges are not impressed with uninspired song selections.
2. Vocals: The act’s vocal skills.
3. Talent: The act’s instrumental skills.
4. Originality: Original work is encouraged.
5. Stage Presence: Rating of stage dynamics, audience “connection,” and how “sellable” the act may be.
The Voodoo Blues Krewe New Orleans Blues Society gives winners of their third annual band competition $1,000 in cash; winners of the solo/duo competition receive $500. Winners in both categories will have the honor of representing New Orleans at the 2012 International Blues Challenge and will get to perform at the local Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival, the Voice of the Wetlands Festival, and Wednesdays on the Point.
The solo/duo competition took place at Chickie Wah Wah on Canal Street on August 19th. The winner was Kenny Acosta. Kenny was honorary Mayor for a day at Baton Rouge's Fest For All during Blues Week in 2003. This is the first such award bestowed upon a Baton Rouge Blues man, ever. Kenny won the Baton Rouge Blues Society Blues Challenge in 2003 and represented them in January of 2004 at the International Blues Competition. His third CD, “Full Moon on Blues Street” 2007 is a soulful scorcher.
JD Hill & The Jammers and Troy Turner and 3rd Gear were co-winners at the first band preliminary for the 2011 New Orleans Blues Challenge. Their performances at Big Al’s Saloon and Blues in Harvey, LA, were special enough to propel them into the finals of the competition on September 24th at world famous Rock N Bowl in New Orleans. The finalists from the second preliminary at McGuire’s were Ed Wills and Blues for Sale and John Lisi and Delta Funk.
In the Youth category, Nomad, an excitingly promising band playing blues and blues-oriented rock, delighted the enthusiastic audience and were chosen to represent the Voodoo Blues Krewe in Memphis. They had the honor of opening for and playing with the Marshall Tucker Band, among other venues around southern Louisiana. Their 19 year old guitarist, Chance Casteel, also played with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Tab Benoit in the headliner of the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival in October.
The Finals of the New Orleans Blues Challenge, (NOBC) presented by the Voodoo Blues Krewe New Orleans Blues Society, was held on September 24th at Rock N Bowl. Also performing was the Solo / Duo winner, Kenny Acosta, and the youth winner, NOMAD.
The night was packed with exciting and historical presentations with Inductions for the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame by Executive Director, Mike Shepherd. Inductees for 2011 included Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Ernie Vincent.
Also appearing was a New Orleans legend, Deacon John, recipient of the 2011 Snooks Eaglin Lifetime Achievement Award for Blues Excellence. This award is annually given by the Blues Society to an artist who has achieved the recognition of fans, press, and peers for their body of work within the music industry. The award is an original, uniquely designed work of art by noted New Orleans artist/sculptor Ben Bullins.
After careful deliberation from the judges, Ed Wills and Blues 4 Sale was selected as the group that will represent the New Orleans Blues Society at the International Blues Competition in Memphis. In the 27 years that The Blues Foundation has sponsored the International Blues Challenge, a number of the event's participants have gone on to significant careers in blues music, including Eden Brent, the late Sean Costello, Homemade Jamz Blues Band, Tommy Castro, Robin Rogers, Michael Burkes, Super Chikan, Watermelon Slim, Albert Castiglia, and Susan Tedeschi,, among many others. The 2012 International Blues Challenge is scheduled for January 31 to February 4, 2012. The Challenge has been expanded to a four day format. The quarter finals will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, February 1st-2nd, Semi finals will be held Friday night, February 3rd and it will conclude with finals in the Orpheum Theater on February 4th. In addition to the evening Blues competition, the days are filled with seminars and workshops and topped off in a moving Saturday morning brunch in which the Blues community will acknowledge their own with the prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) awards that honor the men and women who have made significant contributions to the Blues music world in 20 categories such as journalism, literature and photography and to the best clubs and festivals, as well as managers, promoters and producers. The IBC has evolved into the nation's biggest and most respected showcase for Blues musicians ready to take their act to the national stage.
Hope to see y’all in Memphis!
Kim “Fest Junkie” Welsh