It was a certainly a proud moment when Lazy Eye and Mick and Dave did their International Showcase gigs on the Tuesday before IBC. When I was there in 2013 I had seen some acts perform to near-empty rooms, but both of our acts appeared before good-size crowds who were not hesitant to show their appreciation. The following two evenings were exciting as our two acts made history by being the first South Australian competitors at the IBC. They certainly gave professional performances and definitely looked at home on the IBC stage. They were also well received by the audiences at their gigs, with plenty of encouraging shouts and much applause during their sets. Crowds at the IBC are parochial, with their numbers stacked by supporters who have travelled with their local US competitors, good crowd support for international competitors is certainly not a given at the IBC! Both of our acts gave their all on the stage, gave it their best shot and did all that could have been asked of them. They have a lot to be proud of.
Lots of photos and videos of our acts in their showcases and semi-final heats here: https://www.facebook.com/adelaiderootsandblues/
One consolation for missing the semi-finals was the Asian Blues Network showcase, held on Friday afternoon at the most iconic venue on Beale Street, B.B King’s. Lazy Eye got to perform, along with Dreamboogie, Western Australian act Zac Linton Band and a fantastic Filipino band and 2016 IBC semi-finalist, Lampano Alley.
After the quarter-final heats on Wednesday and Thursday, the semi-finals were held on Friday evening. It is impossible to catch all of the acts, or even a selection of acts that you might like to see, I did catch some amazing performances, Tee Dee Young, Odell Gray &The House Rules Band and the Altered Five Blues Band are three that stood out to me. I also want to mention Melbourne band Dreamboogie. Their use of “loops” is controversial and their style is not to everyone’s liking, but they epitomize the hard working and professional approach required to succeed at the IBC and elsewhere. They have worked hard to create a performance that is a “show”, they have invested heavily in stage clothes and they look great. By their own admission, they were not ready when they competed at the IBC in 2012, but used the experience to ensure they were prepared in 2016. They thoroughly deserved their spot in the semi-finals and I enjoyed their performance.
Check out photos here: https://www.facebook.com/mick.young.37/posts/10207480218856808
The IBC finals started at midday on Saturday, at The Orpheum Theatre on Beale Street. It is a beautiful theatre, constructed in 1935, with a capacity of 2400 people. Here are my thoughts on the finals, in no particular order:
Starting at midday, the final presentations concluded at 8.10. Long day!
The standard of the solo/duo acts was generally exceptional and included a lot of musical diversity. Dave Musket and the winners, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons, were the standouts in that category for me. I have since purchased the 2014 Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons album “Take Yo Time” and it is brilliant. Interestingly, they won the IBC with no original material, what they do is their own “revisionist” versions of tunes by Charlie Patton, Barbeque Bob and a whole heap of obscure old-time blues guys that I have never or barely heard of!
My view, and the view of most I spoke to, was that the bands were not of the same standard as the solo/duo category, and there was a lack of diversity. Lots of quite, rocky blues. Although the winners were a 4 piece, most acts were 5 piece bands, all pretty rocky and not a double bass in sight!
There was obviously some great music, but there were also lots of rather standard covers, including “Please Don’t Go”, “Thrill Is Gone”, “Work Together” and even “Unchain My Heart”! There was a ten minute rock version of “Love In Vain”. Hmmm, so much for all that advice Mick and Dave got that you can’t do “Cross Roads” at the IBC!
The Americans place a lot more importance on “showmanship” than we do in Australia. For example, a sax player doing rigorous calisthenics and pulling weird faces during his act’s set seemed to go down well with the crowd and also the judges (his act came third).
Without exception, the finalists (and semi-finalists) were all immaculately attired. Jeans and a shirt just don’t cut it at the IBC.
From a personal perspective, I am very glad I went to the IBC. It was great to be there (and taking photos) for the historic first time ARBA and South Australia have been represented. It was a privilege to witness Lazy Eye and Mick and Dave perform. Of course, as a blues fanatic, it is impossible not to have a great time on Beale Street during the IBC! I was also able to attend the affiliate’s president’s “roundtable”. I have made a number of notes from what was spoken about at this meeting. I had one-on-one chats with a number of other presidents and also some members of the Blues Foundation Board. I was able to catch up with MBAS Vice President John Durr, one-on-one, for a couple of hours. I also got to know some of the MBAS committee members who were present. This was great as it is important that we strengthen our relationship with MBAS and continue to learn from what they do well. I also met prominent Melbourne blues announcer Baz Maxwell, face-to-face for the first time. I have already shared some local music with him (he was blown away by Zkye Blue’s live album).
Looking forward to starting the process all over again, with the ARBA Memphis Blues Challenge in late June, 2016!
Information for the 2016 Arba Memphis Challenge will be posted here as it comes to hand
6th February, 2016.