River City Blues
Did you know Marietta, Ohio is a heart-center for the love of Blues? It is. Not only does it proudly host a regional-level Blues Competition, but one month later, it brings the love back for the Annual River City Blues Festival (the festival is happening this coming weekend).
In February, crowds not only gathered to watch previous Blues Competition finalists and winners, but also to witness a dozen regional solo artists and bands compete for this year's prize in the River City Blues Competition at the Lafayette Hotel, in Marietta, Ohio.
This year's competition kicked off at noon on Saturday of the competition weekend, where each of the 12 bands played their hearts out for 20 minute sets. Think there's a chance it might feel repetitive to hear all blues for a day and a half? It couldn't be further from the truth, as musical stylings ranged from full, high energy, theatrical performances, to subdued, soft, jazzy blues, and everything in-between.
Judges scored the artists on Blues Content, Instrumental Talent, Vocal Talent, Originality and Stage Presence, and awarded three prizes. First prize went to Gough-Martin Blues Band from Kentucky, Second, to Lil' Red and The Rooster from France and Columbus, OH, and Third prize, to Willie Phoenix and The Soul Underground from Columbus, Ohio.
Winners at The International Blues Challenge in Memphis (where the first prize winners from the River City Competition will now go), receive cash and prizes such as professional consultations and assistance, gigs at some of the country's best festivals, interviews in some of the world's leading blues publications, free website design and hosting, and even a slot on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise. The first place winners from February's Competition in Marietta) move on to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
Our local and annual River City Blues Competition is hosted by the Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society of the Mid Ohio Valley. Founded in 1987, their goal is to present live music not usually found in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
While the BJFM Society is proud of their competition, and what prizes and opportunities it brings to the artists, they share that they feel the big winners for getting to enjoy a weekend of great blues entertainment.
In the past, contestants have come from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Italy and Israel.
This coming weekend, the BJFM Society is celebrating a fantastic lineup of Blues with the River City Blues Festival. Not only will the River City Blues Competition winner (Gough-Martin Blues Band) perform on Saturday, the festival will also welcome our local High Schools that Rock group, as well as zydeco artists Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers from Lousiana. Bluesman John Primer, Chicago legend Studebaker John, soul performer John Nemeth, Samantha Fish and Kara Grainger round out the scheduled performance for the weekend. Some wonderful talent, all collected in the name of love for blues.
A raffle will also take place on Saturday evening, offering prizes for upcoming concerts, events and even the Blues Cruise. Money from the raffle goes directly to the BJFM Society's Blues in the Schools Program (which we wrote about, back in October). This group does great things in our Valley-for our schools and musical awareness.
For more information, go to bjfm.org