River City Blues

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. 

  Deuce n' A Quarter , performed at the River City Blues Competition this year, and brought great energy to their performance. Photo by  Michelle Waters .

Deuce n' A Quarter, performed at the River City Blues Competition this year, and brought great energy to their performance. Photo by Michelle Waters.

The weekend opened up with a dance party on Friday night, with performances by Roadhouse Redeemed (Semifinalist at the 2017 International Blues Competition) and Ray Fuller & the Bluesrockers

  Ray Fuller & The Bluesrockers  performed at the pre-competition dance party on Friday, and had a great time doing so. Photo by  Michelle Waters .

Ray Fuller & The Bluesrockers performed at the pre-competition dance party on Friday, and had a great time doing so. Photo by Michelle Waters.

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. 

  Erin Coburn  led her band in the Saturday competition, where they impressed the crowd with their powerful performance. Photo by  Michelle Waters .

Erin Coburn led her band in the Saturday competition, where they impressed the crowd with their powerful performance. Photo by Michelle Waters.

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 of this year's River City Blues Competition, Gough-Martin Blues Band, will perform at the River City Blues Fest, this coming weekend. Photo by  Michelle Waters.  

Winners of this year's River City Blues Competition, Gough-Martin Blues Band, will perform at the River City Blues Fest, this coming weekend. Photo by Michelle Waters. 

 Second prize winners, from Columbus (Ohio) and France,  Lil' Red and The Rooster  impressed the crowd and fans with their unique performance and implementation of standing drums, and washboards. Photo by  Michelle Waters . 

Second prize winners, from Columbus (Ohio) and France, Lil' Red and The Rooster impressed the crowd and fans with their unique performance and implementation of standing drums, and washboards. Photo by Michelle Waters

 Third place in the Blues Competition was received by Columbus, Ohio's Willie Phoenix and The Soul Underground, who brought an engaging performance that kept the audience on their toes. Photo by  Michelle Waters . 

Third place in the Blues Competition was received by Columbus, Ohio's Willie Phoenix and The Soul Underground, who brought an engaging performance that kept the audience on their toes. Photo by Michelle Waters

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. 

  Southern Avenue  from Memphis filled the  Lafayette Hotel 's ballroom with powerhouse vocals and tuned-in emotions. Everyone was dancing. Photo by  Michelle Waters.  

Southern Avenue from Memphis filled the Lafayette Hotel's ballroom with powerhouse vocals and tuned-in emotions. Everyone was dancing. Photo by Michelle Waters. 

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. 

 Satoru Nakagawa, of the  Tokyo Tramps , opened his set with a haunting rendition of  Skip James '  "Hard Time Killin' Floor" . Photo by  Michelle Waters .

Satoru Nakagawa, of the Tokyo Tramps, opened his set with a haunting rendition of Skip James' "Hard Time Killin' Floor". Photo by Michelle Waters.

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

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