Our journey started from the Adelaide heats last year where we won the right to compete, that in itself was something we were grateful for, given the incredible quality of acts we were up against. From there we spent six months preparing ourselves for the event. We made the decision very early that regardless how far through the comp we ultimately got it would be our goal to use this opportunity to improve as a band. So pretty much everything we did including our set list, arrangements, stage appearance, and presentation was put under the microscope and improved...some things stuck, some didn't but ultimately it was through the journey and as a result of the IBC we made great steps forward. What helped significantly was being open to constructive criticism from people we trusted...it's easy to rest on the things you're doing well but not so easy to embrace the things that can be improved...but again, we chose to use this opportunity to take all advice and opinions on board objectively.
Beale Street itself is a fascinating place, pretty much every second door takes you into a blues venue where you'll see either a full live band or acoustic show day or night. Imagine Hindley Street with just blues acts and you'd be about right!
As with all acts coming from a non USA society we had our international showcase on the Wednesday afternoon at the world renowned Rum Boogie...this too was a great warm up. Then it was onto our heats Wednesday and Thursday nights. Pretty much you're put into a room with nine other bands and judged over the two nights with four bands going through to the semifinals. We won through to the semis which was simply amazing for us and ARBA. The semis on Friday night were a far more difficult proposition, the quality of the acts obviously went up a notch as did the support for each of the acts. Our support was fantastic, especially from Gaylene and Brian who made the trip (thanks guys!). Unfortunately we didn't go through to the eight act final though the feedback from the judges indicated we were very close, nevertheless the semi was a wonderful night and we gained a huge amount from getting that far through the competition. As a semi finalist we were able to make some amazing contacts with publishers, labels and industry people in general.
The ability to network with like-minded people was amazing. For those going to the comp in the future you must make the most of this opportunity and take business cards, music samplers and the like...but a word of warning, be careful if you intend to sell merch as its illegal without the correct visa.
We can't emphasise enough the importance of being a part of our association ARBA. We have something truly unique in SA as most associations don't or can't raise enough funds to send their winners to Memphis with all expenses paid. Through the generosity and hard work of Mick Young and all the fabulous team at ARBA we have this opportunity and should embrace it, support it and be a part of it.