In the beginning of the year I was fortunate enough to represent the Cincy Blues Society at the 2013 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis. I thought that I would write a little summary of how things went while I was there.
As always, it was a busy week where I made it my goal to squeeze in as many things as I possibly could. I think that competing in the IBC provides much more opportunity than the brief placement in a playoff bracket. It is also a chance to connect with many fans, promoters, and musicians that are all dedicated to blues music. On top of everything else, I was able to see some great blues from players that came from many different countries like Olivier Gotti (France Blues) and Suzie Vinnick (Toronto Blues Society) to name a couple.
My competition sets were in the Broadway club just to the left of the Orpheum Theatre on Main Street. While it wasn’t typical the typical Beale Street bar, it provided a quieter venue with a great sound system where I could showcase my set. I think this was advantageous for me since I play acoustic instruments and performed all original songs. As I played, it was great to see a few familiar faces from the Cincy Blues Society in the crowd when I lifted my head away from my guitar strings. While I wasn’t one of the acts to advance to the finals and play in the Orpheum, I think I got some great experience that will thicken my abilities as a bluesman.
I was also able to perform a live stream at DittyTV, which is a great internet streaming site that broadcasts from Memphis. If you weren’t able to get down to the IBC this year, performances from many of the acts that competed can be found on their website (http://www.dittytv.com/the-gravel-road/).
In between competing, watching other great acts, and leaving my business cards in hands and on tables, I was able to squeeze in a recording session at Ardent Studios.
It was a silent wood-paneled room that naturally amplified every string that my fingers touched. I’ll always remember the retro stainless steel ashtray drilled into wall just to the left of me. It made me think about how many great players might have used it between takes in the 60s and 70s.
In an attempt to capture the natural sound of this studio and promote an organic feel, I decided to live-track these recordings (meaning that I played and sang all at once instead of overdubbing the vocals after the guitar was recorded).
Anyway, I thought I would offer my favorite track from this session to members of the Cincy Blues Society as a thank you for selecting me to represent Cincinnati at the 2013 IBC. Furthermore, I wanted to thank the CBS and its members for all their support at great events like the summer and winter blues festivals. So, I hope you like the new song. Let me know what you think at my next show.
The track can be played below, but if you would like to download a copy you can get it under the music tab on my website: