Keeping the Blues Alive: 33rd IBC released on a CD

Tahoe Onstage
Beale Street in Memphis is filled with blues during the International Blues Challenge.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

A few nights ago, a friend made a convincing case for the blues being lost forever at the hands of a generation not at all taken by the music or its progenitors. This album was in the mailbox the next day. That omen, and the obvious passion behind and throughout this project, shows damn well surely that all is right in the world.

IBC 33Dawn Tyler Watson, representing the Montreal Blues Society, took one of the first place prizes at the 33rd International Blues Challenge in Memphis. She opens this compilation of studio cuts by 14 of the artists that competed as if in a Baptist church around the corner from Beale. “Shine On” beams with pure hope. It’s an absolutely gorgeous, upbeat delivery that sets a roller coaster of a pace for just under an hour.

Brody Buster’s One Man Band from Kansas City takes “2029” down some interesting folk/roots-rocky side rails, but Nashville’s Al Hill steers it all right back in line with his New Orleans solo piano heat on “Don’t Dig Today.” Ruth Wyand & The Tribe of One really stands out in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area. Their infidelity-inspired “I Don’t Have Proof” offers ironclad evidence of greatness in smoky, spiritual nuance. And so it goes.

Felix Slim, on behalf of the Basque region of Spain no less, lives in Brooklyn, New York, and plays “I Hate You ‘Cause I Love You” like he crawled out of a tree stump in the swamps of Louisiana. Lush soul flows from Sam Joyner, and Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers convey jittery South Coast excitement to their Portland, Oregon fans.

From Alabama’s Magic City Blues Society, King Bee brings heavy, “Dangerous” grooves and lowdown guitar, and the Sobo Blues Band from faraway Israel takes off on “Catfish Boogie” like a clattering train deep in the South. That’s the beauty of the idiom. A vast variety of music that we all now enjoy, in one way or another originated with the blues.

Historians, blues purists, and music fanatics in general will keep the blues alive, and thanks to the partnership between The Blues Foundation and Frank Roszak Promotions, we can all revel in the reasons why on this CD. Help propagate an ever-expanding American cultural treasure.

-Tom Clarke

  • The Blues Foundation
    “International Blues Challenge #33
    Label: Lumenhouse
    Release: Dec. 1, 2017
    Purchase: LINK
  • Tracks
    1) Dawn Tyler Watson – “Shine On”
    2) Johnny Fink & The Intrusion – “Let’s Hear Some Blues”
    3) Randy McQuay – “Til I Get To Memphis”
    4) Brody Buster’s One Man Band – “2029”
    5) Al Hill – “Don’t Dig Today”
    6) SOBO Blues Band – “Catfish Boogie”
    7) Ruth Wyand & The Tribe of One – “I Don’t Have Proof”
    8) The Souliz Band featuring Sugar & Spice – “Good Lovin’ (How & Fresh from the oven)
    9) Feliz Slim – “I Hate You Cause I Love You”
    10) Wes Lee – “Chains that Bind”
    11) Sam Joyner – “Onions Ain’t the Only Thing”
    12) Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers – “Elbow Grease”
    13) King Bee – “Dangerous”
    14) Sugar Brown – “Meet Me in the Country”

    Tahoe Onstage
    Blues rules on Beale Street during the International Blues Challenge.
    Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

ABOUT Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke
From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 25 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, Los Lobos, and the Allman Brothers Band and its ever-growing family tree. Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Kudzoo, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage. Tom and his wife Karen have raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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