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Ozark Blues Society, by Liz Lottmann

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In this article you’ll find news about my trip to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge, but first I want to thank everyone who attended the Ozark Blues Society’s election meeting a few weeks ago. The officers and board members for 2008 are: yours truly, Liz Lottmann, president; Sandy McCann, vice president; Heather Garcia, secretary; Dan Mulhollen, treasurer; and board members Jim Rose, Roy McCann and Kenny Hackman. The board thanks everyone who renewed their memberships, and those who joined for the first time this year. We have a spectacular year planned already, and I’ll be writing about that in the near future.

For now, though, I can state with authority that OBS has been invited by the Bentonville Public Library to bring in a big-name blues educator/performer for an adult blues program in the fall.

Also, OBS has been invited to help with the springtime Dogwood Festival in Siloam Springs, and they’ve already approached an exciting, national-act blues band to perform. Can’t tell you who yet, but I’ll let the cat out of the bag as soon as everything is firmed up.

The International Blues Challenge 2008 is now part of blues history, and although our artists weren’t the big winners, they all told me that participating was one of the biggest accomplishments in their careers so far.

Adam Posnak (OBS’s winning solo artist) and Daniel Conti & Drawing Back (our winning band) created a lot of buzz from other blues society attendees. I was approached by several of the judges and promoters to get more information on both Adam and on Drawing Back.

OBS board members Sandy and Roy McCann also went to ICB. We spread out all over Beale Street and attended as many events as we possibly could. On Friday morning, hubby Juergen and I escorted Adam and the Drawing Back guys to Helena, Ark., to meet Sunshine Sonny Payne, the legendary MC of the King Biscuit Radio Show. Sonny was gracious enough to feature both of the artists on his show. You can hear the entire broadcast at http://kffa.com and choose “Old King Biscuit Shows” on the left-hand menu, then choose the show dated February 1, 2008. After Sonny’s show, Terry Buckalew kept him on the air for his own edition of the Delta Cultural Center’s acoustic blues show.

On Jan. 30, before the Blues Challenge even began, Sandy and Roy went to the big jam at Ground Zero in Clarksdale, Miss. Ground Zero is probably the hottest blues club in existence right now, so it’s pretty exciting to be able to play there. The club is owned by Morgan Freeman, the actor, and everybody who’s anybody lines up for the honor of performing there. Sandy and Roy were able to sit in with quite a few up-and-coming artists that night – one in particular was Rick Bates aka Tas Cru, who last summer presented a blues education program for OBS at the Fayetteville library.

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Our friend Kory Montgomery and his duo IBC partner, Mike Officer, were featured jammers as well. Sandy says it was a “rowdy, crazy time, and a very a-hem ‘interesting’ place to play.” Sandy is known for her understatements, and I think this qualifies as one of the most understated she’s ever uttered.

The winners of the International Blues Challenge this year are Trampled Under Foot sponsored by the Kansas City Blues Society, and Lionel Young, the solo artist sponsored by the Colorado Blues Society. You can get more info about all the winners and participants at www.blues.org.

Lots of pictures of our friends at the International Blues Challenge are posted at Ozark Blues Society’s website (www.ozarkbluessociety.org). So don’t forget to check in often for updates on our events and opportunities.

Liz Lottman is president of the Ozark Blues Society of Northwest Arkansas

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