Getting Ready for the IBC

The Connecticut Blues Society IBC Finals were held Saturday.  Once again, the VFW was filled with blues fans ready to enjoy an afternoon of some of CT’s finest.  There were treated to a great display of talent.

The winners of the Connecticut Blues Band Challenge prelims played for the opportunity to represent the state on Beale St in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge.

Ed Stack welcomes the crowd.









Tom Retano handles the intros










Earning their way into the finals were: (band description edited from CTBS President Ed Stack)  Preliminary 1 – BRANDT TAYLOR BAND.  The Brandt Taylor Band won 1 with an outstanding set, that combined dynamics and excitement.  The band is popular throughout CT, and deep into Massachuessets and Rhode Island.  The band is led by Brandt Taylor with strong vocals and blazing guitar.  They made an impression with fiery guitar solos and Nate Cronin’s excellent organ solos.  Bass player, Scott Hopkins, adds a bluesy vocal and driving drums by Ron Ouimette complete the band.











Preliminary 2 – THE REDLINERS.  This veteran band was led by the rollicking piano of Steve Hatch and the rockin soulful guitar of Larry Willey.  Steve sang the country flavored blues and Larry sang the soul blues.











The Mystery Blues Fan makes an appearance.







Preliminary 3 – EASYBABY.  Led by the spectacular vocal performance of Kelly Rago, Rich Badowski on harp, and Michael St George on guitar, the band takes off.  The whole band “cooks on all cylinders”.  Drummer, Dennis Cotton lays down the beat and Rich Badowski wails on harp.  Add Michael St George’s burning guitar and Max Samson with his powerhouse bass.




















Preliminary 4 – BLACK SNAKE BOOTS.  Mark Zaretsky reunited members of the original Cobalt Rhythm Kings, and these veteran blues musicians deliver an outstanding set.  Mark provides vocals and harp with George Lesiw on guitar and adding vocals. George Mastrgiannis (drums) and Mike Nunno (bass) provide a terrific rhythm section.









Drawing comments all afternoon were Tom’s shoes.







Preliminary 5 – THE MIKE CRANDALL BAND.  They are a veteran Blues Band and have a long history in Memphis.  With Mike’s unique styling on harp and vocals, the sound takes off. Shawn Leonard handles the guitar licks.  With bassist Ed Parnagoni and Steve Peck on drums, they are a strong unit.











While the scores were tallied, a jam kept the crowd dancing.

Tom singing

young bass player stepped up










three of a kind that beats a full house








And the winner is

Ray Meeker makes the announcement


















They now head to the 34th International Blues Challenge, January 16-20, 2018 – Memphis, TN

The International Blues Challenge represents a worldwide search for the Blues Band and Solo/Duo Blues Acts ready to perform on the international stage, yet just needing that extra big break. Each Affiliate of The Blues Foundation has the right to send a band and a solo/duo act to represent its organization at the IBC.

The IBC is judged by blues professionals from across the world who have years of experience in listening to, producing, and creating blues music. The Blues Foundation has established a set of criteria by which all acts are evaluated throughout the five days of the IBC.

Affiliated organizations are required to stage a preliminary IBC competition, with the winner of that event representing the organization in the International Blues Challenge held annually in Memphis, TN along historic Beale Street.

Questions/comments, I can be reached through the Blog comments or at  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.

(No views were obstructed in the taking of photographs for this Blog.)

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 “Getting Ready for the IBC

  1. Tom R

    Very nice article!


    All the bands in the Challenge were outstanding. This was the year for EasyBaby. Good luck in Memphis.

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