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The Old Capitol Blues and BBQ Festival

Saturday, August 25 brought an amazing event to the Old Capitol area of Springfield, Il. Just mix together a great music event, blues skies and a cool breeze, and that's enough for most fests! This 4th year of the OCBB brought even more excitement with the addition of the 1st Annual Blues challenge.

Performances kicked off on the Illinois Central Blues Club (ICBC) stage at 11:30 a.m. with the Blues Challenge. The organization Downtown Springfield, Inc., along with ICBC prez Mark Edmiston and a blues army of dedicated volunteers made this event a music lover's mecca, and the BBQ competition added another form of sensory overload to this event! For the second sucessive year, the gang at Back Porch BBQ won the BBq contest and took home the gold!

Ten bands competed to receive $500 in travel monies to represent the ICBC at the 2008 Blues Foundation International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.

If you've ever had to judge a music competition, you know how tough it can be to choose from powerful bands giving their all. When the smoke cleared, and the scores were tallied, the St. Louis band of Darrein Safron and the Soul Sensations emerged victorious, and will be Memphis bound next February representing the ICBC in the 2008 International Blues Challenge.

Darrein Safron is a 12 year old vocal phenomenom, backed by 6 legendary players from St. Louis who compose the Soul Sensations.

Alligator Record artists John Cephas and Phil Wiggins performed on the Neuhoff Media Stage at 3 p.m. Cephas & Wiggins are the foremast exponents of the Piedmont Blues style. Piedmont Blues originates in the coastal regions of the southeastern US, it is an old country style of blues that is described by Cephas as” alternating thumb and finger picking on the guitar…more similar to ragtime, house party or dance music.”

Darrein Safron and the Soul Sensations
At 4:00 p.m. Bill Lupkin and the Chicago Blues Band took to the ICBC stage with his special guests Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Little Smokey Smothers, Eddie Taylor Jr., BarrelHouse Chuck and Dave Spector.

Variety is always good, and for a nice contrast, they were followed with some jump blues by Little Rachel and the Rhythm Busters at 5 p.m. Standing only five foot tall and singing mid-Fifties rhythm and blues, Little Rachel has a big, big voice that seemed to please the crowded street of spectators.

Afterwards, on the Neuhoff Media Stage
at 7:30 p.m. was electric blues by Zac Harmon, voted “Best New Blues Artist” in 2005 for the XM Nation Music Awards. Zac Harmon was a 2004 IBC winner, and in early 2006, Zac Harmon won a Blues Music (formerly W.C. Handy) Award for “Best New Artist Debut” from the Blues Foundation. Take one look at Zac's discography, and you'll see he's been in the studio with just about everyone over the years, so his recognition is long-coming!

Cajun slide guitar master Sonny Landreth was the headliner on the Neuhoff Media Springfield Main Stage at 9:30 p.m. Sonny Landreth has amassed a devoted following among his fans and peers since his first release in 1981. Eric Clapton has said Landreth is “probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also probably one of the most advanced.”

This event is very 'family friendly', and seemed to bring out the best of community and music lovers of Springfield, Il. An outstanding way to spend a Saturday, make sure you don't miss next year's Old Capitol Blues and BBQ Festival!
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