Blues Challenge First Prelim

Connecticut Blues SocietyBlues Challenge


Thursday night the Connecticut Blues Society hosted the first of four preliminaries in its 19th Annual Blues Challenge at Black-eyed Sally’s.

Sign of the times at Sally's

Sign of the times at Sally’s

Five talented bands competed for a chance in the finals and an opportunity to compete in the International Blues Challenge, in Memphis.  This will continue for the next three Thursdays.

The house was packed house and they were rewarded with five bands that played some top notch blues.

First up was Say What?.  A young teenage band that new to the Challenge and was a pleasant surprise for the fans.


From Chester, the talented group cranked up the audience,  A 17 year female vocalist led the band.

young & energetic

young & energetic

She was energetic and presented some classic blues.  They got the Challenge off to a great start.  They are worth a listen and hopefully will be around for some time.  Plus the guitar had a look that brought me back to my youth.


Next up was the Rich Badowski Blues Band.  This was is an experienced set of musicians that worked well together.  Now, they put down some tasty Chicago Blues.  Badowski led a band that won the Challenge in 2012 and went to Memphis.



He is a great harp player and with a new dynamic guitar player, put on a very entertaining show.  A solid rhythm section kept the beat. And Rich knows how to sing the blues.

action on the strings

action on the strings

The Frankie2tone Band came on next and started with a good version of Stevie Ray’s “Cold Shot.”.


They played a number of originals including what I thought was the best slow blues of the night, “Return Home.”  This band added a keyboard to the mix.  You could see that they are gaining in Challenge experience adding a last song showing some jazz influences

One of the state’s most active bands, Easy Baby took the stage.  They have become one of the in demand bands in Connecticut.  Led by the powerhouse vocals of the Hartford Blues Queen, Kelly Rago

the Hartford Blues Queen

the Hartford Blues Queen

and harp master the Kosher Kid (Dave Robbins).

Kosher Kid

Kosher Kid

Rogo came out and put her soul into singing the blues.  She brought us back to the days of the classic blues women.  Kosher Kid’s harp by has a way of bringing out the blues.  This experienced group made the finals last year.

Ending the night was Suit Ty Thurrsty.  The only 3 piece group of the night, featured all three on vocals. All 3 sing and contribute to the original songs.  They are all strong on their instruments and one could easily pick up on the harmonizing. Their music is high energy blues/rock.


This is another group that has made the Finals in the past.

River City Slim as MC kept the evening moving along and added all the info the audience needed between sets.


The night ran very smooth with enough time between sets for catching up with friends.  And the staff  at Sally’s was in constant motion.  After the next three Challenges, the Finals will be held on June 21st at the Hannon-Hatch VFW in West Hartford.

The Blues Society judges had their hands full.  And the winner — Suit Ty Thurrsty, Tom Forst (guitar), Tyree Pope (bass) and Pedro Johnson (drums).



Next Thursday should be another good night.  The bands include:  The Sandy Connolly Band, Petey Hop & The JackRabbits, All Good & The Bad Parts, The Redliners, and One-Eyed Johnny & The Gravediggers.

The show kicks off at 8 pm, so arrive early for a good seat and good food.



About bluesbeatnews52

Blues columnist writing a weekly column dedicated to the Blues. The only column of its kind in a commercial (paid subscription) newspaper. Column appears in the Middletown Press, Bristol Press, Torrington Register-Citizen, and the New Britain Herald. Forcella has served on the Board of Directors of the Blues Foundation representing the Journalism constituency. Served on the Board of Directors Connecticut Blues Society as Past President and Past Editor of newsletter. Recipient: Keeping the Blues Alive award in Journalism from the Blues Foundation. Has contributed both writing and photos to nationnal blues publications.

2 responses to “Blues Challenge First Prelim

  1. Ed Stack

    Dom did an excellent review of the first preliminary of the 2014 CTBS Band Challenge and his photos gave a good opportunity to see what all the bands looked like. Plus the “pig butt” poster is always fun. The line up was a good combination of young talented musicians and experienced veterans of the competition.
    Ed Stack

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