International Blues Challenge Report   Leave a comment

We arrived in Memphis for the International Blues Challenge (IBC) midday, Thursday (January 21, 2010) not knowing what to expect, but with high hopes that the Houston Blues Society’s representatives (The Sonny Boy Terry Band and DuPree) would come back winners.

After picking up our tickets and IBC program, we attempted to check into our hotel, but the rooms were not ready, so we began walking down Main Street to Beale Street.  And, whom should we meet on the way, none other than KPFT’s Blues Hound and Baby Girl (James and Colleen Nagel). They were on their way to Alcenia’s, a soul food dining delight, and not lacking bravado we ask if we could go with them – of course, they welcomed our company.

After ordering from the menu and the usual casual conversation, the Blues Hound pulled out his “cheat-sheet” (my term) while asking, “ . . . have you done your homework?’ While feeling like I had missed the assignment, he proceeds to let us know that he had gone online and identified the bands he wanted to try and see during the IBC event. Now I know why the Blues Hound is such a musicologist and has a great blues show on KPFT – he does his homework! To say the least, the food and conversation was great, right down to the sweet-potato pie.

The Sonny Boy Terry Band was scheduled early in the competition at the Club Chill. So, after checking into the hotel and relaxing a bit, we walked the six blocks to Club Chill, arriving in plenty of time to help gather up support for the band and check out some of the other bands. Not knowing who all would be there from Houston, it was pleasant to see that a good number had made it up from Houston – I’m told it was one of the largest groups every. How nice!

The band did a super job in what I feel was a good venue for them.  (I will add however, the smoke was almost too much.) Good venue and great performance or not, the IBC process is strictly a “luck of the drew” call.  The IBC takes place in eleven clubs, ten bands in each.  Only the winner from each club goes to the finals and as it turned out for the Sonny Boy Terry Band, they were grouped with the IBC winner, Grady Champion – a group with a lot of style, but little more.

Although the process was questionable and easy to criticize, it’s a given when you decide to participate in the Houston Blues Society competition. Still, both the HBS entries are much better today because of having been part of the IBC competition. They made us proud to be from Houston.


(Photo Set)

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