Special to the Tribune-Star
Two Wabash Valley bands travel to Indianapolis on Sunday with dreams of heading to Memphis, Tenn.
One has made the trip before and wants to repeat, while the other hopes this is their year.
The event is the 2012 Indiana Blues Challenge, the first step in the International Blues Challenge. The competition will take place at Indianapolis’ historic Slippery Noodle Inn. The Noodle opens at 4 p.m. The show starts at 6 p.m.
Admission is $7.
Dicky James and the Blues Flames won the Indiana competition last year and traveled to Memphis. The win came immediately after the release of the band’s second album, A Hard Rain, which debuted at the top of Billboard’s Root Blues Chart.
Will Cox — drummer for the Blue Flames and member of the Wabash Valley Musicians Hall of Fame — notes that this is the third year the band has competed in the IBC. “The first two years we competed in the Challenge it was all about winning,” Cox said. “This time, after having won last year, it’s more about having fun, hearing some music, and meeting some new friends.
“The trip to Memphis offered the same chances to network but this time with people from all over the world,” Cox added. “Plus we got to do a lot of promotion for the band and discovered some great opportunities. But mainly, it’s about having a good time playing music.”
John Beeson (a Wabash Valley Musicians Hall Of Fame member) plays keyboards for the Blue Flames when he’s not running The Music Shoppe at 25th and Washington streets. He echoes Cox’s sentiments.
“It is quite an honor to be involved in the Blues Competition, to compete against some of the finest blues bands from all over the Midwest,” Beeson said. “Since we won last year, this opened many doors for us and gave us much recognition throughout the blues market. This year’s challenge will be even more fun and exciting than last year.”
The Ken Tucker Band hopes that excitement includes a trip for them to Memphis.
“It is a distinct honor and thrill to be selected for the International Blues [Challenge] competition,” said Tucker, guitarist and vocalist for the group. “We are tremendously excited to have been selected. We love the blues and hope to represent it with grace, humility and dignity.”
“Being selected for the IBC means that we are among some of the best blues bands the world has to offer,” said Jeff “JD Blues” Archer, the band’s bassist. “I feel privileged to be among that class of musicians.”
Tucker is no stranger to national competition himself. He won the 2007 emerging artist competition at the 2007 King Biscuit Blues Festival in West Helena, Ark.
“I think this says a lot about the overall quality of the musical talent in Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley,” said Robert Flott, who represents both bands through his company B3 Entertainment Consultants. “Dozens submitted and only four bands were picked, half of which are from here. That’s extremely impressive. Both bands are fantastic. Sunday will be a great show.”
More than 30 bands and single artists submitted materials for this year’s IBC, the 29th annual event. Only four were selected to compete in the bands competition. Besides Ken Tucker and Dicky James, the other groups are Miller from Lafayette, and Shock Therapy from Indianapolis.
Each group will perform a maximum of 25 minutes of music, with heavy emphasis on originality, stage presence, “Blues Content” and musicianship.
The winner will travel to Memphis to perform along historic Beale Street at venues including the House of Blues and BB King’s own nightclub.
Fans of both bands can also catch them here in the Wabash Valley this Saturday. Dicky James and the Blue Flames will perform from 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Saturday at the Midway Bar & Grill in Shirkieville. The Ken Tucker Band will perform from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., also Saturday, at Ambrosini’s Pizzeria.
There is no cost for either show.
Visit dickyjamesandtheblueflames.com and reverbnation.com/kentuckerblues for more information about the bands.