Once again the soulful, classic sounds of Blues Challenge (2012), sponsored by the nonprofit group Ozark Blues Society, will fill the front room of George’s Majestic Lounge on Dicksen Avenue on Sept. 13. This won’t be an average show, with top-shelf acts from across the country, all of which have taken up residence in Northwest Arkansas, performing to win.
A record number of artists — six solo/duo and nine bands for a total of 15 performances — have been registered to perform and be judged using criteria such as how “blues” they actually are, voice, overall talent and originality.
The lucky winners, one band, and one solo/duo act, will be sent to Memphis, Tenn. where they will perform at the International Blues Challenge, for a chance to win cash prizes and tour dates around the world. Last year’s winner, Ray Bonneville, has been touring across the country and Europe since he won first place in the solo/duo division at the IBC.
“It’s funny because I went there to meet some people and I was so surprised to get first place…I got to meet a whole bunch of great folks, travel to festivals — it’s been a pretty positive thing all around,” Bonneville said.
Roger Plourde, president of OBS, said they try to prepare the winners of the local contest by using the same criteria and rules as they do at the IBC. This way they’ll know what to expect and have a better chance of winning. Once the artists win in Fayetteville, OBS provides them with an expenses-paid trip to the competition in Tennessee.
Professionals in the blues music business such as music media writers, music promoters, blues radio show hosts and officers from other blues societies surrounding Northwest Arkansas will make up the judges panel at this year’s local challenge.
The 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis will be the 29th year that Blues musicians from around the world will compete for cash, prizes and industry recognition. This is the world’s largest gathering of blues acts and is produced by The Blues Foundation and its affiliated organizations. At the 2012 competition earlier this year, 119 bands and 86 solo/duo acts entered, filling the clubs up and down Beale Street for the quarter finals, the semi-finals and the finals at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday. There will be at least that many artists competing in 2013.
What has helped make this event so successful in the past is support from the local venues, Plourde said, along with the incredible local talent and of course patrons who attend. The event starts at 6 p.m. and runs until 11:30 p.m. For more information, visit www. ozarkbluessociety.org.
Artists will include:
o Kelly Cecil
o Kid Bailey
o David Kimbrough III
o Lectric Liz and Theo Reynolds
o Shawn James
o Buddy Shute
o The Blind Trust Blues Project
o Blue Healin’
o Blew Reed and the Flatheads
o The Brenda Meyer Band
o Catfish Jackson
o The Fabulous High Tops
o Got Blues Band
o Leah and the Mojo Doctors
o Mississippi Fever