I gotta say the IBC was a blast and whilst I’m still not convinced in music being competitive, my experience was never the less an enjoyable and positive one. I would definitely encourage any old or new and upcoming blues artist(s) to enter. The gains you will acquire in developing your craft, career and exposure to a wider audience is priceless.
For me, I was able to return to my beloved USA once again, with my best friends and music compadre’s Nikko and Dennis. Without entering the Memphis competition, it would have been years before any of this could have come to fruition, not to mention saving the funds to plan such a trip. Without the Memphis comp it may not of even come about and might have just been a dream or a talking point over a few beers at one of our BBQ gatherings.
It wasn’t just about the competition and taking out the grand prize trophy...no not at all. It was purely about the music, representing South Australian blues music and doing my fans and family proud. Whilst we didn’t make the finals, the people we met along the way from all around the globe, sharing music, exchanging stories and CD’s, and just hanging out with like-minded souls is something I’ll never forget.
Just to play in front of an international audience alongside international artists, was just amazing and well worth the 17-hour flight, turbulence and Dennis’ snoring...haha. Wait a minute Dennis doesn’t usually snore!
The trip to Memphis is one I’ll never forget, yes I’d performed in the US previously in 2013 but that trip was more about the blues pilgrimage bag and getting a feel for the place I’ve grown to love. This time it was more about sharing previous experiences with friends and experiencing new ones such as the 3500km road trip from San Francisco, through Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas, Texas and finally to the IBC in Memphis. Without the competition I’m certain this experience would have remained a dream and may never have eventuated.
Entering the competition also sparked and assisted us in leaving earlier to explore San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and finally Memphis. We performed in Fremont CA with the great Delmark guitarist Johnny Burgin and harpist Aki Kumar which was a blast and are now new musical comrades. Hanging with the great Denny Freeman in Austin is always a pleasure and catching up with old friends in Austin was amazing.
I gotta say, randomly meeting Johnny Moeller of the Fabulous Thunderbirds at the bar in C-Boys was also a highlight. He’s a great bloke and we chatted about music, food and all great things.
The IBC brings like-minded people together who love their blues and whilst all the acts aren’t everyone’s jar of whisky, there were certainly some amazing performers and also heavy weight players of the likes of Alabama Mike and Anson Funderburg who came to Nikko and Snooks’ second IBC performance, which was an inspiration.
On our last night we were walking down Main street Memphis when I spotted Daddy Mack, a real deal bluesman, through a window in a hole in the wall café and called the crew up ahead of me to come back. We went in and what followed was a blessing. Not only did we witness a real deal stellar performance by Daddy Mack (pictured), but we met the owner Judy Preiser, a writer, photographer, historian and Memphis native. Of Jewish descent and now in her 70s, she was a wealth of knowledge and personally knew the likes of BB King, Al Green, to name a few.
Using a term Judy often would use explaining an experience or musician, she “kicks ass” and is up with one of the coolest people I’ve ever met which includes, Jimmie Vaughan, Denny Freeman, Emmylou Harris and Nick Lowe.
Judy is a cat and is a one of a kind. Be sure to introduce yourself, friends, if you make it to Memphis, but y’all gotta enter the Memphis comp first to make your odds even better. Visit http://www.southernfolklore.com/ for mo’ info on Judy’s cool joint!!
Check out the MBC comp details here
All the best, Snooks La Vie