Okay the Connecticut Blues Society Challenge has begun. Starting Thursday and running 4 weeks Black-eyed Sally’s is the place to be. If you haven’t been out to see our local talent now is as ggod a time as any to see what blues Connecticut has to offer.
Once again my trip to Hartford was on the CTFastrak. I park for free in New Britain/Newington The Cedar St Station and for 75 cents, $1.50 for non-seniors, one way I let them do the driving.
These Challenges always bring a crowd so plan on arriving early. Tom Retano is the emcee and his enthusiasm is catchy. Of course by the end of the night the audience has its own comments to make to Tom.
The bands are playing for a chance to appear on Beale Street in Memphis. The International Blues Challenge is one of the Blues Foundation’s biggest events. Fans from around the world and a good number from Connecticut have a week of great blues. (you can follow my IBC week last January by going back in the Blog files.)
The first band up was new for me, Richie and The Red Hot Blues. They put out some good blues and had the crowding clapping.
Richie held the vocals with a good backing band. Some hot guitar and a man on the keys drew notice.
Between acts, Tom introduced the judges and provided info on upcoming events.
Next was DDKing. I knew DD, Danny Draher, but not the rest of the band. He had experienced players on drum and bass and they knew how to follow his lead.
Ed Stack CtBS President came up to talk about the local and regional fests coming this Summer.
Now the next band I had seen and was a little more familiar with them, Easy Baby. Kelly handled the vocals and grabbed the crowd. For me, Rich on harp promises that it is going to be a good show. And it was.
The last band had a familiar name, often seen on the Blues Beat blues schedule but not heard by me, Brandt Taylor. Tonight the band took off. Brandt doing some slide that said a lot. His band provided the back-up he needed. They were a fitting final act to a top flight evening.
While Ray Meeker tallied the scores and with such a tight show I figured he was checking and doubling checking, to keep the audience entertained the jam band took over. Just to give you an idea of the talent, the jam band came from the judges table. I’d like to see another judging crew with that much blues talent and then some. Retano handled the vocals.
The Crowd was enjoy the additional music and started working off some spent up energy on the dance floor.
Steve Balkun, leader of the Balkun Brothers Band, last year’s winner, took center stage.
Then Ed came up to announce the winner. After a very close Challenge, he reminded the audience that 2 wild card bands will join the 4 winners in the finals.
The winner is: DDKing:
Now the Challenge has 3 more weeks to go. Plenty of time to catch a lot of good bands at one time.
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. My weekly Blues Beat column appears in the New Britain Herald, Bristol Press, Middletown Press and Torrington Register-Citizen.