| Twenty-two blues music acts around the state will appear in the Connecticut Blues Society’s 16th Annual Band Blues Challenge, commencing May 12th. The Connecticut Blues Challenge, organized by the non profit Connecticut Blues Society, is the process by which a representative blues band is selected to send to the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge (IBC), which will be held January 31- February 4, 2012 on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. The Preliminary Band Challenge rounds will take place four nights, consecutive Thursdays, running May 12th through May 26th, skipping June 2nd, and continuing June 9th, with a Finals round June 16th. Each Blues Challenge preliminary starts at 8 p.m. on these dates at Black-Eyed Sally’s, 350 Asylum St., Hartford, Connecticut.
The May 12th preliminary lineup includes The Pete Scheips Band, TC & Company, The Sarah T Band, The Mike Crandall Band featuring Sam Gentile, and The Shoo Fly Blues Band. Bad Rooster, Jook Joint, The King Pins, Off The Record, Blue Collar Project, and The Mojomatics will take the stage May 19th, followed by The Kris Heaton Blues Band, Petey Hop & The Jack Rabbits, Own Rendition, Ms. Marci & The Lovesick Hounds, The Mojo Boys, and The Cobalt Rhythm Kings on May 26th. The June 9th preliminary will feature EZ Street, Tinted Blue, Otis & The Hurricanes, The Tom Sanders Band, and The Balkun Brothers Band.
A panel of judges consisting of blues radio DJs, musicians, music writers, and hardcore fans will award each band a score of one to ten in the categories of Blues Content, Vocals, Talent, Originality, and Stage Presence, the criteria used at The Blues Foundation’s International Blues Talent Competition. Winners of each weekly preliminary event will compete in the Blues Challenge Finals round along with a “Wild Card” act, the second place act with the best numerical score on June 16th. The band winning the finals competition will receive at least $2,000 to represent Connecticut in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Blues Challenge winners also receive a number of invitations to perform throughout the state during the course of the year.
Last year, Wolcott’s Eran Troy Danner won the Connecticut Band Blues Challenge. A band must be an official representative of a blues society to enter the IBC Memphis competition, where the top band wins $1500, an appearance in the Legendary Blues Cruise, as well as an opportunity to open for the Blues Awards and to appear at Blues Festivals throughout the U. S.
The annual CTBS Blues Challenges are open to all Connecticut blues bands, which are solicited via invitations, word of mouth and announcements from the CT Blues Society. The bands are chosen on a “first come, first served” basis. CTBS holds a special meeting in April, when the bands’ names are literally placed in a hat and pulled at random to determine the line-up.
During the past ten years, two Connecticut blues bands, Blue Steel and The Mike Crandall Band have made it to the IBC Blues Challenge finals in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Blues is the purest form of American music, unfortunately, it is not commercially appreciated in the United States,” said David O’Neil, Vice President of the Connecticut Blues Society. “The CTBS Blues Challenge and the associated International Blues Challenge are important avenues for keeping this great music alive and kicking. The Connecticut Blues Society is one of the strongest in the nation. It attracts more bands into its Challenge than other Blues societies across the country. Connecticut Blues fans and bands are doing their part to support this American genre of music and we hope this event brings more of those folks into the blues family.”
The Connecticut Blues Challenge is organized and run each year by the Connecticut Blues Society, a non-profit organization formed to preserve the blues as a unique musical form and to support Connecticut’s community of blues fans and musicians. By providing an opportunity for local blues artists to showcase their music and meet and hear their peers, it helps them stay at the top of their game and fulfills the Blues Society’s mission of promoting and preserving the blues in Connecticut.
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