The year began with The Associates and Nikko & Snooks representing ARBA and South Australia at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, in January. Both acts gave a fine account of themselves and it was exciting to have The Associates become the first South Australian act to progress to the semi-finals of this tough competition. As well as this success at the IBC, The Associates, or Kings & Associates as they are now known, have gone on to have success with their album “Tales of a Rich Girl” hitting number one on the Australian Blues and Roots Airplay Chart and also featuring in the top 20 of the international Roots Music Report charts. It is fantastic to see a local act getting such a great return for all of their hard work.
We continued our association with Global Music Revolution at Klemzig, holding two gigs there as part of the Adelaide Fringe. Both shows were sold out, no mean feat with local acts and a ticket price of $25. Headliners Lazy Eye and Steve Brown Band were respectively supported by JJ Fields and Jesse Deane-Freeman, Peter Allan did his usual awesome Memphis BBQ, feedback from punters was very positive and our aim of promoting the Association and four very fine local acts was achieved. The Fringe attracts a different crowd and therefore is a great opportunity to increase our profile and that of the local musicians featured in our Fringe shows. We will be back at Global Music Revolution with another two Fringe shows in 2018.
In June, at the Semaphore Workers Club, we held the 3rd annual Memphis Blues Challenge. This was another successful, well attended event, and no one could dispute the worthiness of The Steve Brown Band and JJ Fields to represent ARBA and South Australia at the IBC in Memphis next year. Our fundraiser for these two acts, also held at the Semaphore Workers club, was a great evening, but numbers took a hit due to the appalling weather conditions on the night. This, combined with the 33% increase in airfares this year, meant that we did not quite raise all the money required to cover all expenses, but the shortfall was manageable and the acts themselves have organised fundraising activities to cover the difference. Thanks to all who generously supported the Memphis Blues Challenge by attending the event, bidding at auction and buying raffle tickets and t-shirts.
During June, July and August, ARBA aided the Prospect Blues and Roots Winter Music Festival by assisting them with the line-ups for the various Friday evenings of the event, resulting in 10 ARBA member acts landing gigs at this very successful festival, held at Prospect Council’s Club 5082. We are exploring further ways that we can work with the Prospect Council in the future.
ARBA partners with The Gov to present the Gumbo Room Blues Jam, every Thursday night, in the front bar of The Gov. During the year, this weekly event has gone from strength-to-strength, with average crowds continuing to build. Punters love the chance to see a quality host band before the jamming begins. A highlight was the special Hendrix night held on the 31st of August, which saw nearly 100 people cram into the room to witness some of Adelaide’s finest play some of their favourite Hendrix tunes.
On the 14th of October, we held our first Member Muster event, at the British Workingman’s Club. Featuring the Chris Finnen and Dirty Roots Bands, this event was free for ARBA members and saw almost 50 new members sign up. This will see us close the year at an all-time high of approximately 210 members. We appreciate each and every one of them for their support!
At the aforementioned Member Muster event, we also named the finalists for the ARBA Blues Album of the Year and Roots Album of the Year. The winners will be announced and awarded on November 28th, the opening night of the Port Noarlunga Deep South Blues Festival. Also to be announced and awarded on the same night will be the inaugural Paul Hay Award, for services to the blues.
It is worth noting that the album adjudged the 2017 ARBA Blues Album of the Year has already been entered in the Blues Foundation’s Best Self-Produced CD Competition for 2017, with the requisite number of copies sent to Memphis before the November deadline.
Our first ARBA Xmas BBQ and Jam held last December was a great success. This year the event will be held on the 9th of December at Roger Smith’s Woodcroft home, a notice has been sent to all members, hope to see you there!
The one goal that we did not deliver on for 2017 was to develop and roll out an ARBA Youth in Blues program. However, I am pleased to report that we are in the advanced stages of planning such a roll out early in 2018. Stay tuned for details shortly!
On the committee front, 2017 saw the resignation of Heather Pinder, who had given dedicated and loyal service to the Association as Treasurer since the formation of the committee in 2013. Jeff Parham will retire as a committee member, effective from the 2017 AGM. Jeff has also been a committee member since the committee first formed and has been tireless in his work coordinating the various ARBA awards and with raffle ticket selling in particular. Brian Jackson will also be retiring from the committee as of the AGM. Brian has been active in fundraising initiatives and has played a significant role in the fundraising for the musicians travelling to Memphis and in the generally strong financial position of the Association. I thank these three outgoing committee members for their service. 2017 saw us welcome Grant Wilson, who has taken the reins as Treasurer and is already doing a great job. We also welcomed Steve Portolesi on-board as an ordinary committee member.
We will head into the 2017 AGM with around $5,000 in the bank and no debt. This is easily the best financial position the Association has been in since its formation, and gives us a solid base upon which to build. Financial strength is important as it gives us the capacity and confidence to run more events, knowing that if we have a poorly attended event, we have the funds to cover any shortfall. This will be reflected in the 2018 ARBA event calendar that will be released shortly.
Finally, I would like to extend heartfelt-thanks to all members of the ARBA Committee, Association members, volunteers, sponsors, partnership organisations and punters for their support over the course of 2017. I look forward to enjoying more of the same in 2018.
1st November 2017