That CKUA has played a phenomenal role in creating a vibrant blues scene in this part of the world is not news.
Holger Petersen’s Natch’l Blues is the longest running blues program in the nation and with the weekend double-barreled shot that puts Natch’l Blues with Cam Hayden’s Friday Night Blues Party, our guys turn on the blues tap with more pressure than any other radio outlet you care to mention.
How many blues musicians in this province received their first taste of the sounds of Chicago, Delta, Jump or Piedmont blues while listening to Canada’s oldest public broadcaster?
I know for a fact, as an avid music fan, that the first time I ever heard Rev. Gary Davis, Clifton Chenier, Big Joe Turner and Freddie King was on the 580 AM dial.
Last year the organization had just enough entries to put together a Quarter Finals evening for both categories of Band and Solo/Duo.
This year the EBS is looking at hosting four nights of Quarter Finals as 17 acts have submitted entries to the competition.
“To be honest I was a bit worried a couple of days leading up to the September 5th deadline for submissions,” says EBS board member and Memphis Bound Chairperson Rosalynn Ruptash.
Maybe Ros hasn’t been hanging out with musicians long enough, but in all my years of hanging in the company of players and singers I would have to say that a majority are so busy multi-tasking, that grant proposals and contest deadlines are used to maximum effect.
“So all of sudden we were inundated with entries, at the door, online, and the phone was ringing off the hook with artists wanting clarification on a few things. By 7:15 on deadline day we had enough entries to present two nights in each category using three venues around the city,” continued Ruptash who has given countless hours to the EBS and the blues scene in general over the past few years.
With the number of entrants tripling, the breakdown for the competition is 9 in the solo/duo category and 8 in the band category. An expansion of the geographic boundaries for eligibility also meant that three acts, one each from Consort, Red Deer and Camrose, decided to throw their hats into the ring.
The Quarter Finals of the Solo/Duo competition happen back-to-back in Edmonton as Uncle Glenn’s (7666-156 Street) hosts five acts on October 4 while both nights of the Band competition are taking place at the Newcastle Pub (6108 - 90 Ave) on Wednesday October 10 and Thursday October 11.
I haven’t heard all the acts in the competition but there are some well-known and established recording artists in the running including pianist/vocalist Graham Guest, Boogie Patrol and Big Hank and Fistful of Blues.
Visit the Edmonton Blues Society website for all the pertinent information about start and set times.
The mounting of such a project does not begin and end with the competition, however, and the EBS Fundraiser and Silent Auction goes Saturday September 22 at the inviting and funky Old Timer’s Cabin on 99 street and 94 avenue.
The EBS has put together a strong lineup that partially reflects the results of last year’s competition as Breezy Brian Gregg, who won the Solo category, and Jimmy and The Sleepers, which took the Band honours, will be on the bandstand.
Featured guest and headliner is American expat David Vest whose piano playing was a hit at the 2011 Edmonton Blues Festival.
Vest will be backed by The Sleepers and will likely find room for a tune or two found on his new release East Meet Vest.
The 12-song disc is a winner and the session teamed Vest with a number of friends and associates from eastern Canada, those being guitarist Paul James, the Downchild rhythm section of Gary Kendall and Mike Fitzpatrick, and Fathead’s Teddy Leonard.
“We’re also very pleased with the generous donations for our silent auction. Everything from Eskimos and Oil Kings tickets to a pair of transferrable weekend passes to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival to music memorabilia and a Fender electric guitar,” continued Ruptash, who might need her own trip to Memphis to recover when all this organizing and promoting is all said and done.
There are two different ticket packages for the Memphis Bound Fundraiser that will be hosted by sax player Joe Piccolo, one with dinner and the other for the boogie portion of the night. Tickets are $45 or $25, available at Myhre’s Music, Permanent Records, Tix On The Square, Fusion Music and Innovations Music.
We’ll keep you posted on which artists make it through the EBS Memphis Bound Blues Challenge Quarter Finals, and the dates on the closing installment of the competition.
By the way, David Vest will be Holger Petersen’s guest on Natch’l Blues Saturday September 22.
It was a nice surprise to open the latest edition of Relix magazine and see that the second cut on the Relix CD sampler was "Bought Myself A Hammer" from the Calgary-based Kirby Sewell Band.
Talk about being pro-active and getting after it: Sewell’s sound is a great fit for the readers of Relix who, judging from the contents of the magazine, like everything from vintage rock and roll, blues and soul, plugged in gospel, jam band sounds and dazzling acoustic instrumentalists.
Sewell’s track follows a new slithering roots rock romp from the Chris Robinson Brotherhood titled "Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go" from the Magic Door album. The sequencing on the disc couldn’t have been better for Sewell. Here's hoping the tune will also turn any number of programmers and promoters across the continent onto the Kirby Sewell Band’s sound and the crew will get some added traction in new markets.