Have Fun & Good Luck To ALL of the 29th International Blues Challenge Participants!

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… for us it started in 2010 with Sleepy Eyed Jay & Chicago Slim representing the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society:

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… in 2011 THE BUSH LEAGUE made their first appearance representing the Sedalia Blues Society and were semi-finalists in 2012 representing Natchel’ Blues Network Blues Society!

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… and in 2013 we are at  home cheering for great experiences for many that we know on their first trip and missing some great friends that we’ve made down there that are participating again!  The UnXpected representing DC Blues Society is participating in the Youth Category; in the band category there is Andrew Alli & Last Night’s Blues Band representing River City Blues Society, The Mike Lucci Band representing the Blue Ridge Blues Society, The Ghost Town Blues Band representing the Crossroads Blues Society, Anthony Rosano & the Conqueroos representing the Natchel’ Blues Network Blues Society, Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders representing the Minnesota Blues Society, RJ Harman & Company representing the Orange Blossom Blues Society, The Sugar Thieves representing the Phoenix Blues Society, The Selwyn Birchwood Band representing the Suncoast Blues Society and the Josh Vowell Band representing the Topeka Blues Society; then there is Erin Harpe & Richard Rosenblatt representing the Boston Blues Society in the Solo/ Duo Category!  These are just the people that we know that are going and/ or have met at previous IBC’s, the full list of this year’s talent can be found RIGHT HERE and all of the performers are something to check out!

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We’ve let our hometown people know to go up to the top floor of the Rum Boogie Cafe to the banquet room to meet up with Vinny ‘Bond’ Marini for his Music On the Couch internet radio show where he will have 5 minute participant interviews and live updates set up twice a day for 3 hours during the entire Challenge!

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To SEE some of the action LIVE you can go to DittyTV; a live, internet-based broadcast site that’s showcasing IBC bands all this week!

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This year you can follow along with what’s going on with The Official International Blues Challenge Mobile App for Android mobile devices!

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Check out the links above if you want to cheer on your hometown favorites or to just see and hear some great music and learn about some great musicians representing almost every corner of the earth that you might not have heard about otherwise!

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Magazine 33′s article on The Bush League’s summer trip!

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We were so happy the Chandler was able to work it out to come to Memphis and document our time on Beale Street and well as in the studio in mid-June!  Here is the article that he wrote for Magazine 33!

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http://virginia.magazine33.com/issue/summer-fall-2012/article/bush-league-in-memphis

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The Bush League in Memphis

By Photojournalist and Field Events Coordinator: Chandler Moulton   Tue, Aug 28, 2012

 

This was an amazing road trip for Richmond’s own The Bush League. Not only did they play in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge, but they took the opportunity to work with the student of a master to record their upcoming CD! Magazine33 Photojournalist Chandler Moulton accompanies the group on their journey.

 

 

All over the world, around this time of year, groups and solo performers are competing to represent blues societies at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) sponsored by the Blues Foundation and held yearly on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.  While competing in Memphis does not guarantee a group will be discovered and become superstars the competition can provided a leg up. Watermelon Slim, Susan Tedeschi, Tommy Castro, and Super Chikan, to name just a few have all performed at the IBC.
This year’s IBC competition saw 119 bands and 86 solo/duo acts filling the clubs up and down Beale Street for the quarter-finals and semi-finals from Wednesday to Friday night with the finals at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday.  This year, The Bush League,  representing the Natchel Blues Network from the Hampton Roads area advanced to the semi-finals and caught the eye of Vinny Marini.  This led to the group being interviewed on Marini’s “Music On The Couch:  Musicians You Should Know” internet radio live podcast; The Bush League also garnered an appearance at the Hard Rock Cafe in Memphis and the 40th Bentonia Blues Festival in Bentonia, Mississippi.  The festival is hosted by Mr. Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – one of the oldest players in the country blues tradition, and proprietor of the Blue Front Cafe (part of the Mississippi Blues Trail) which his parents opened in 1948.  The Bush League shared the stage with the likes of Lightnin’ Malcolm, Roosevelt Roberts Jr., and Super Chikan and the Fighting Cocks, and front man John Jason Cecil serving as the festival’s Master of Ceremonies.

But that’s not all!  The Bush League’s appearance at the 2012 IBC resulted in other exciting occurences for the group:  Young Avenue Sound Engineer Ari Morris ran sound in the club as the Bush League played during the first round of the IBC.  Morris approached Bush League bassist Royce Folks after the set and told him that he wanted to record the group.  Kenya Watkins, The Bush League’s manager told me:  “[I]t just kinda fell in our laps as we were looking to record here [Richmond] but once we found out who Ari had worked with, including [the late] Jim  Dickinson, we knew he was the right guy for this project.”

For those not familiar with Jim Dickinson, he is credited with recording what has been called the last great record on the Sun Label, “Cadillac Man”, “My Babe” by the Jesters, playing piano and singing lead on both sides, even though he was not an actual member of the group.  Dickinson also played on Aretha Franklin’s Spirit in the Dark album, The Rolling Stones track “Wild Horses”, and Bob Dylan’s album Time out of Mind.  Dickinson produced Big Star’s (perhaps the most influential band you’ve never heard of) Third, as well as co-produced Alex Chilton’s Like Flies on Sherbert.  Other artists that Dickinson produced include Mojo Nixon, Jason and The Nashville Scorchers, The Replacements.  His sons Luther and Cody make up two-thirds of the North Mississippi Allstars.  So, Morris’ education at the University of Memphis has been augmented with lessons from one the masters.

Joining The Bush League both at the Hard Rock Cafe and in studio for a few songs was Jeremy Powell, keyboardist with Beale Street stalwarts Vince Johnson and The Plantation Allstars. Memphis musician (Ghost Town Blues Band) and producer (Daddy Mack Orr Band) Matt Isbell told me that Jeremy had only been playing for a few years and was growing as a keyboardist and performer.
The Bush League’s upcoming CD was recorded in one day, in an open studio (except for Cecil, who was stuck in a small dark isolation booth for his vocals), and except for one song (four takes), the tracks were laid down in two or three takes (one cut was laid down in one take) with a bare minimum of punching.  Fans of the blues and especially fans of Richmond blues should be on the look out for this disc.  Having lived in Memphis for three years prior to my return to Richmond at the end of 2011, I jumped at the chance to accompany The Bush League to Memphis.  While I didn’t accompany the group to Bentonia, (friends and Todd Snider kept me in Memphis) hopefully, the photographs from Hard Rock and Young Avenue Sound do justice to what was a great experience for the group in the city that is considered the home of the blues and the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll:  Memphis, Tennessee.

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Magazine 33 article on The Bush League’s ‘Blues In The Bottom’!

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On December 17, 2011, The Bush League brought their second installment of ‘Blues In The Bottom‘ to The Canal Club in Richmond, VA.  Magazine 33 came out and reported on the event.  If you missed the first two ‘Blues In The Bottom’ events, be sure to keep an eye out for the next one coming soon!

 

http://virginia.magazine33.com/issue/winter-2011/article/blues-in-the-bottom

 

 

Blues in the Bottom

By Correspondent: Sarah Freiseis   Sat, Jan 07, 2012

Local artists stake their claim in the International Blues Challenge. Photos by Chandler Moulton.

 

Big ups to our local musicians putting this fine city on the music map.  Richmonders are shouting out and showing up when it comes to live and local.  Supporting local acts is easy when you genuinely enjoy what you are hearing, seeing, and above all, experiencing.

The Blues in the Bottom event at The Canal Club was a fundraiser to help two acts – The Bush League (Richmond) and Rooster Foot (Virginia Beach) – get to the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.  The competition is in its twenty-eighth year and will be held January 31 – February 4 in the Beale Street entertainment district.  The Bush League will participate in the group category and Rooster Foot will perform as a duo in the upcoming IBC.  The groups were eligible to move on because of a win in a regional competition; both, in this instance, from the one hosted by the Natchel Blues Network, which has been promoting the blues as a 501c3 non-profit organization since 1984 in the Hampton Roads area.

Beyond the IBC bound, the lineup for Blues in the Bottom also featured the Mike Lucci Band and Pigfoot Riot who got the night started off right, each bringing a unique energy to the stage through vivacious female vocalists.  The Richmond-based Mike Lucci Band is a self-proclaimed Chicago style variety of the genre with added emphasis on rockin’ rhythm and blues (and even known to throw in some rumba) that features Mike Lucci on the bass.  Pigfoot Riot is comprised of members of the River City Blues Society, a six-person ensemble with a raw edge that gets the audience movin’ off the bat.

Next came Rooster Foot, aka the Stainback duo.  Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Seth was joined by his father Keith to complete the sound.  “I grew up around music.  I’ve been playing since I was a kid,” said Seth.  “I moved out to Norfolk about three years ago – I’m a welder, I moved out there to work – and my dad moved out like two years after me because he just liked it there, and I started playing music again.  Someone said, ’Hey, you need to enter this competition, it will help you out,’ so I did, and I got my dad to come with me ’cause he plays percussion.  I was filling out the form, and we needed a band name, so I put down Rooster Foot.”  He said there isn’t a particular process for him in writing and creating music.  “Words hit me, or a melody will hit me, sometimes I’ll write a song in ten minutes, and sometimes pieces of it will lay around for months.  It’s always different, but all my life anything that has to do with music has never been something contrived.  It’s always just been in me, it definitely comes from my heart, I can say that, it comes from my heart and soul.”  He went on to say he is currently working on an album due out in or around February.  “Recording over at Soul Haven Studios in Virginia Beach, so we’re about three quarters of the way done, so hopefully it’ll be out soon.”

Headliners the Bush League have often referred to their sound as FuB&RR, standing for Funk, Blues & Rock and Roll.  Guitarist Shane Porch (aka Chicago Slim) said, “I think our sound is different because it’s not textbook, it’s projecting the feelings inside of you, we are ourselves in the music, and I think that’s what we have to bring to the table.”  Royce Folks (bass) added, “We play off of each other, it’s all organic, and we play off the crowds also.  Even if we played the same setlist, it would be different every time.”  The band took a moment before going on stage to talk to Magazine33 about that night’s event as well as the upcoming Memphis competition.  Folks explained that the Blues in the Bottom event was the second of its kind, “We’re just trying to get more blues acts, and to have more blues related things here in the area.  This time we’re using it as a fundraiser to get down to the International Blues Challenge.”  Vocalist JohnJason “Sleepy Eyed Jay” Cecil, who also happens to be co-founder of the band (the other being Folks), said they have had the opportunity to attend this esteemed event before.  “There has been some iteration of this band going to the International Blues Challenge for three years in a row.  Shane and myself went first as a solo/duo category winner, and then the band won at the Sedalia Blues Festival, and now we just won again for the Natchel Blues Network, so what it’s become now is … a whole lot of fun.”  He said because acts come from all over the globe, it has almost become like a homecoming of sorts, “because we’ve made friends now, it’s like, ‘See you in Memphis.’”

The band has released two self-produced live albums since forming in early 2007.  Porch said, “I think the next move after Memphis is probably going to be towards a full-length studio album.”  Gwen “Platinum Plaque” Frederick played drums on their latest album which included songs “Mexico”, “Gotta Women”, and “Don’t Touch My Liquor” they also played at the 2011 International Blues Challenge.  On the night of the Blues in the Bottom event, the guys were joined on stage by double duty drummer Rod Hyner of Pigfoot Riot.  In terms of live music, Porch added, “Simply put, our songs have a framework, and we play with that framework every night, but as long as we get from point A topoint B, and we know the general path to get there, we make it, and that’s how we do our music.  It works … and people like it.”  When asked about the future of the blues, JohnJason said, “The blues isn’t going anywhere.  People have their interpretations or perceptions of what it is, but the fact of the matter is, blues as a genre of music is just as varied as any other sort of music, and since blues is the progenitor of all American music, it just stands to reason it won’t going away.  We’re not going to let it go anywhere.”

It is incredible that in just a matter of weeks these guys will be playing the clubs of Beale Street, an infamous stretch of town where so many music greats have graced.  In addition to evenings filled with playing music, the days will provide seminars and workshops, closing by paying homage to the blues community with the Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) awards ceremony.  Rooster Foot and the Bush League will participate in a “Battle of the Bands” style competition for a panel of judges, and not that they need it, but we wish them luck and look forward to hearing more about their incredible adventure.

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Video of The Bush League’s 2012 International Blues Challenge semi-finals set!

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The Blues Foundation‘s 28th annual International Blues Challenge semi-final round on Friday, February 3, 2012 at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street in Memphis, TN starting at 6:00PM Central Standard Time.

The Bush League – Can Of Gas And A Match

The Bush League – Death Of Robert

The Bush League – .38 Special Blues (Juke Joint Conflict Resolution)

The Bush League – Don’t Touch My Liquor

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This is put up for everybody that could not make it to Memphis, TN this year for the International Blues Challenge!  The WIRED! Band out of Seattle, WA went on to the finals from this venue ended up winning the IBC this year!  This year’s IBC Program & Guide has listings for all events occurring and bands participating during this most awesome event!  Be sure to check pages 46 and 128!

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We Are Now Card Carrying Members!

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That’s right, The Bush League is now a Corporate Member of The Blues Foundation!  We did this to show our support for the organization that has been dedicated to preserving blues music history (The Blues Hall of Fame, The HART Fund), celebrating recording and performance excellence (The Blues Music AwardsThe International Blues Challenge), supporting blues education (Website, Worldwide Blues Society Affiliates, Blues in the Schools) and ensuring the future of this uniquely American art form for 32 years now!  As corporate members, we get to vote on this years nominees for the Blues Music Awards, a link to our website located on the The Blues Foundations website, and we get membership cards, decals and a lapel pin!

 

The Bush League Membership Cards for River City Blues Society (RVA) and The Blues Foundation.

 

Through our participation in our local and many close by blues societies’ blues challenges for participation in the  International Blues Challenge (2010 Sleepy Eyed Jay & Chicago Slim - Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, 2011 The Bush League - Sedalia Blues Society, 2012 The Bush League - Natchel’ Blues Network) we’ve had many opportunities to share our music and our love for blues music that we would not have had otherwise.  We’ve also made some great friends, had many unique experiences and grown a greater  appreciation for live music in general, blues music and its far reaching influence specifically!

Currently, The Bush League is also a member in good standing with the Natchel’ Blues Network Blues Society, the DC Blues Society and Richmond, VA’s River City Blues Society (card shown above), of which our bassist, Royce Folks was voted onto the Board of Directors in December 2011.  All of the blues societies mentioned in this post are just a few of the 180+ affiliate organizations of The Blues Foundation from around the world!  If this sounds like something that YOU would like to support also contact your local blues society or join the The Blues Foundation directly to help Keep Blues Alive!

 

Click Picture To JOIN!

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Catching up!!!

So much has happened since that last post!  We will be giving short posts over the next few days to catch you up!  Well we did not move past the semi-final round of this years International Blues Challenge but we had a most awesome time for the rest of our stay in Memphis, TN!  The semi-final round was at The Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street and our set time was  6pm.  Joining us at The Hard Rock that night was RJ Harmon & Company, The Chris Canas Band(both came with us from The Flying Saucer), Miss Julia & The Cruzers and The WIRED! Band.  The Wired! Band, representing the Washington Blues Society in Seattle, WA was the band that moved on to the finals from our club and they then went on to win this years challenge!

We also got to visit with Vinny ‘Bond’ Marini on his blog talk radio show “Music On The Couch“.  We were the first band to sit on the couch for his 5th episode during the International Blues Challenge LIVE Broadcasts in the upper lounge of Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street, Vinny even plays ‘Death Of Robert’ from our latest CD The Bush League ROCKS!  RVA’s River City Blues Society 2012 IBC representative, The Bobby ‘BlackHat’ Walter Band came in to sit on the couch a little after us, take a listen to the episode below!!!

Listen to internet radio with Vinny Bond on Blog Talk Radio