Sunday night the CTBS Solo Duo Challenge began its 2014 run at the Pine Loft in Berlin. Six talented acts had the chance to display their talent and provide a very entertaining competition. The two preliminaries will established four winners and a wild card that will comprise the Finals on October 5.
Emcee for the night was Tom Retano
Up first for the night was John & Corina. A guitar and upright bass led the way.
John’s strong voice delivered the blues standards. John was excellent on his guitars and sang with a strong voice and bluesy delivery. Corina on bass provided a deep sound to accompany John’s presentation. John used slide on Trouble by Muddy Waters. They closed with an original (Gotta Run) and showed excellent command of voice and instruments throughout.
Danny “Sugarman” Draher showed his skill and experience. His presentation was relaxed and just flowed from his guitar. His band won the CTBS Band Challenge last year. Going solo this year, Danny started on acoustic guitar and then switched to electric. His set featured some jazz influenced guitar work and he finished with a “slide on the lap” instrumental.
Atlantis Red (aka Carlos Taborda) was in this event for the first time. He opened with some personal history both in his relation to the blues and how he got started. Once he began playing he impressed the audience. He showed a deep respect for the blues, playing some traditional songs from Mississippi John Hurt, Eddie Taylor and Jimmy Rogers.
Did you notice the guitar with a picture of Ella Fitzgerald. Will have to follow up on that story.
He accompanied himself on rack harmonica. He took the audience by surprise when he an did an excellent cover of Ramblin, by past Solo/Duo winner Dan Stevens.
Ken Brody held a Trivia challenge for a new CD. And Tom promotede the Blues Society CD.
Joel Blumert is former Solo/Duo challenge winner. Always entertaining, Joel excels at bringing the older blues to life. He started with just the power of his voice with Linin Track, which appears on the CTBS CD compilation.
Adding the guitar and then the harmonica rack, he relaxed and took us through some of the early decades.
Rich Badowski and Michael St George added a twist with both on guitars, when we are accustomed to Badowski on harmonica. They had a strong blues set with a variety of Blues songs.
Badowski did put some time in on harmonica. He played chromatic harmonica and St George provided strong support on acoustic guitar. They closed with a Bring it on Home, featuring an excellent harp solo by Badowski. This duo had real showmanship and a good connection with the audience.
Harpo (Mark Zaretsky) and Slim (Mike Geronimo) are former band mates who got together after 15 years for the Solo/Duo Challenge. They really seemed to enjoy the opportunity to play together as a duo. Slim was on electric guitar and vocals and Harpo played excellent harp throughout. He added some a passionate vocal on his original The Hunter.
The Judges had their work to do asthe talent was great.
Sound for the evening was by Thounder & Lighting
Watching Harpo I thought back to how expressive these blues players get and look. Often getting a good picture becomes a challenge because emotion is written across their faces. It true, its real, just some times not complimentary. Future Blogs with focus on just how expressive the blues players get.
And the winners were John (Fries) & Corina(Malborn)
and Rich Badowski & Michael St George .
All the participants left the audience wanting more and were all strong on blues content and talents.
Next up Prelim Two with Anna & Mike, Ed Accardi, Noah Kesselman, The Boogie Boys, Bob Miller, and The Coffee Grinders Duo.
Questions/comments, I can be reached through the Blog comments or at email@example.com. BluesBeatNews is written, produced, directed and photographed by Domenic Forcella.