The Waterfront Blues Festival kicks off on Wednesday, July 4 on the Front Porch Stage at 11:30 am with the annual finals for the Cascade Blues Association’s Journey to Memphis competition. This event is to select the representatives for the organization and the region to participate in the International Blues Challenge in early 2019.
The Cascade Blues Association has sent acts to the International Blues Challenge for the past twenty years. Many of the top blues performers from our area have performed in Memphis as the acts who have represented us, including the likes of Lisa Mann, Robbie Laws, Sister Mercy, Franco Paletta & The Stingers, Bill Rhoades & The Party Kings, Rose City Kings, and Julie Amici. Several have made it to the world-wide finals in Memphis and some taking home esteemed prizes: Junkyard Jane, Ben Rice & The iLLamtics, Blind Rhino, Ty Curtis Band (2nd place), Karen Lovely (2nd place) and Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers (3rd place).
Our four finalists this year were selected by a trio of judges in a field of fifteen acts that went head-to-head at Mekong Bistro in mid-May. The four acts who scored the highest over the two day event moving on to the finals are Johnny Wheels & The Swamp Donkeys, Ben Rice, Fenix Project, and Rae Gordon & Kivett Bednar. They will compete in front of a new set of judges in 25-minute sets, with the winning act receiving a cash prize to help defray traveling costs to Memphis.
Schedule for the Journey To Memphis:
11:30 am – Johnny Wheels & The Swamp Donkeys
12:10 pm – Rae Gordon & Kivett Bednar
12:50 pm – Ben Rice
1:30 pm – Fenix Project