Journey To Memphis All-Stars

Since 1999, the Cascade Blues Association has sent local acts to represent our organization and region in The Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge. Over the years, our competition, the Journey To Memphis, has selected a terrific collection of some of our top talent, including several who have made the finals such as Junkyard Jane, Blind Rhino and Ben Rice & The iLLamtics, and even those who’ve taken home some of the top prizes, Ty Curtis Band – 2nd place 2009, Karen Lovely – 2nd place 2010, and most recently Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers – 3rd place 2017.

This year’s field of contestants seeking to reach their place competing in Memphis will come together for the first round at the Vinyl Tap, 2099 SE Oak Grove Blvd, on Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3. Set times for the acts were drawn at random and five will perform starting at 8:30 pm on Friday and the other six beginning at 8:00 pm Saturday. Set times will be 30 minutes long and they will be scored by a trio of judges on blues content, originality, vocals, instrument talent, and stage presence. The two highest scoring acts from each night will advance to the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival for the finals to be held on the Front Porch Stage, Tuesday, July 4.

The acts for this year’s Journey To Memphis are: David Pinsky, Gabriel Cox, Holfar Blue, Jason “JT” Thomas, Julie Amici Duo, Lightning Kings, Louis Creed & The Geezer, Randy Morrison’s Party Bus, Rogue Rage Duo, and The Timothy James Band.

Admission for each night is $10.00, which will be used for the prize money awarded to the winning acts to help defray some of their traveling expenses to Memphis. Winning acts will also be awarded a set at the following year’s Waterfront Blues Festival, and Rae Gordon has once again scheduled a Blues Cruise on the Portland Spirit that will include the winners to assist in raising funds for the trip for the IBC, too.

Journey To Memphis All-Stars

The Journey To Memphis is the Cascade Blues Association’s regional competition to select the acts that will represent our organization and region in next year’s International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, TN, held in early 2018. This year saw more than 260 acts converge on Beale Street to represent blues societies from around the world in band, solo/duo and youth showcase categories. And the Cascade Blues Association was represented extremely well as our band entry Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers came out in third place overall. A great achievement to say the least. The music industry is in full force during the IBC, searching for new talent and offering opportunities to win recognition and prizes that include major festival performances and more. But the only way an act may participate is to win a regional competition held by one of The Blues Foundation’s affiliated societies like the Cascade Blues Association.

The Journey To Memphis competition consists of two rounds. The opening round will be held on Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3 at The Vinyl Tap, 2099 SE Oak Grove Blvd. Acts will be selected by random drawing to fill the time slots during the event. Entries should keep both dates open until they know when they have been drawn for.  Acts are scored by a trio of judges selected for their backgrounds and knowledge of the blues. The highest scoring acts from each night of competition (up to four acts) will advance to the finals held at the Waterfront Blues Festival on July 4th.

Applications to participate in the competition will be accepted up until Wednesday, April 5 at the Cascade Blues Association membership meeting. No late applications will be accepted. All eligible acts that meet our criteria as described below will be able to compete. The performance schedule for the competition is drawn at random.

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  • Entry fee is $25.00
  • Each act must have at least one person in the band who is a member of the Cascade Blues Association.
  • Only acts located within the region of Oregon, Washington or Idaho are allowed to enter the Journey To Memphis.
  • Any act that has been nominated for or received a Blues Music Awards from The Blues Foundation are ineligible to compete.
  • Any act that has competed in the International Blues Challenge two consecutive years, regardless whether with the same society or as a solo/duo or band act, must sit out a year before being allowed to compete again.
  • Along with your $25.00 application fee, send an up-to-date band bio including names of all members, a 300 dpi photo of the band, full song samples of the band’s music (this may be used on a radio broadcast to promote the event), and we need to be made aware of any band member who may be under 21 years of age at the time of the competition so the venue is aware ahead of time for Oregon or Washington Liquor Commission laws.
  • We require that any act that moves forward in the competition must use the same band members that they won the rounds with. In other words, if you won with a certain bass player or drummer at the Waterfront Blues Festival, that bassist and drummer must be in your band to compete in Memphis. Exceptions will made in rare circumstances when not under control of the act, such as health issues.
  • We do not prevent acts competing with the Cascade Blues Association from doing so with other societies. All that we ask is that if you win another group’s competition before ours is held, or if you win ours before theirs, please remove yourself from further competitions to allow other acts the chance to win the right to go to Memphis.
International Blues Challenge - Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers

International Blues Challenge - Rae Gordon & The Backseat DriversThe Blues Foundation’s 33rd annual International Blues Challenge (IBC) was held in Memphis over March 31 through February 4, with more than 260 acts from fourteen countries performing on Beale Street before fans and industry personnel representing blues festivals, recording labels, agents, promoters, venue owners and others, for a chance to gain recognition and potential performance gigs. The IBC has been called the closest thing to a convention for the blues, with multiple showcases, seminars, jams and the Keeping the Blues Alive Awards taking place over the week of activities.

International Blues Challenge - Dawn Tyler WatsonThis year’s event certainly turned out to be fruitful for women in the blues as all three of the winning bands were led by strong female vocalists. First place going to Dawn Tyler Watson representing the Montreal Blues Society. Her guitarist, Ben Racine, was also declared the best instrumentalist – guitar winner in the band category. Second place for bands went to The Souliz Band featuring Sugar & Spice from Florida’s Suncoast Blues Society. Third place was awarded to our own Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers representing the Cascade Blues Association. It was reported in the Memphis newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, that the three bands’ scores were all neck and neck, which may account for the time lapsed awaiting the announcement of the results.

In the solo/duo category, Al Hill from the Nashville Blues Society was the first place winner and also chosen as the best instrumentalist – guitar winner for the category. Second place went to Brody Buster’s One Man Band from the Kansas City Blues Society. He was also selected as the best instrumentalist – harmonica winner for the event.

The Blues Foundation also announced the winner of the Best Self-Produced CD competition from the entries submitted by affiliated blues societies during 2016. JW-Jones’ disc High Temperature, representing the Ottawa Blues Society was selected for this year’s honor.

The Pacific Northwest was generously represented at the IBC, with six regional blues societies sending multiple acts. Aside from the third place winning band, Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers, the Cascade Blues Association also sent solo David Pinsky and youth showcase entry Timothy James & Ryan Stadler. Other Northwest socieites included Eugene’s Rainy Day Blues Society with semi-finalist The Hank Shreve Band, duo NattyBone, and youth Suite Clarity; from Washington Blues Society came semifinalist Polly O’Keary & The Rhythm Method, solo Stanislove, and youth Samsara Blues Band; South Sound Blues Association had the Randy Oxford Band and youth act Groovy Voodoo; White Rock Blues Society included Maple Blues Award winner Harpdog Brown & The Travelin’ Blues Show and duo Isaak & Hart; and from Fraser Valley Blues Society came band James “Buddy” Rogers, duo The Blue Hearts, and youth A Street Blues. All performed in the Greater Pacific Northwest Showcase in Club 152 as well.

The 34th annual International Blues Challenge will return to Beale Street next January 16 – 20, 2018.

Journey To Memphis All-Stars

The Journey To Memphis is the Cascade Blues Association’s regional competition to select the acts that will represent our organization and region in next year’s International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, TN, held in early 2018. This year saw more than 260 acts converge on Beale Street to represent blues societies from around the world in band, solo/duo and youth showcase categories. And the Cascade Blues Association was represented extremely well as our band entry Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers came out in third place overall. A great achievement to say the least. The music industry is in full force during the IBC, searching for new talent and offering opportunities to win recognition and prizes that include major festival performances and more. But the only way an act may participate is to win a regional competition held by one of The Blues Foundation’s affiliated societies like the Cascade Blues Association.

The Journey To Memphis competition consists of two rounds. The opening round will be held on Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3 at The Vinyl Tap, 2099 SE Oak Grove Blvd. Acts will be selected by random drawing to fill the time slots during the event. Entries should keep both dates open until they know when they have been drawn for.  Acts are scored by a trio of judges selected for their backgrounds and knowledge of the blues. The highest scoring acts from each night of competition (up to four acts) will advance to the finals held at the Waterfront Blues Festival on July 4th.

Applications to participate in the competition will be accepted from now until Wednesday, April 5 at the Cascade Blues Association membership meeting. No late applications will be accepted. All eligible acts that meet our criteria as described below will be able to compete. The performance schedule for the competition is drawn at random.

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  • Entry fee is $25.00
  • Each act must have at least one person in the band who is a member of the Cascade Blues Association.
  • Only acts located within the region of Oregon, Washington or Idaho are allowed to enter the Journey To Memphis.
  • Any act that has been nominated for or received a Blues Music Awards from The Blues Foundation are ineligible to compete.
  • Any act that has competed in the International Blues Challenge two consecutive years, regardless whether with the same society or as a solo/duo or band act, must sit out a year before being allowed to compete again.
  • Along with your $25.00 application fee, send an up-to-date band bio including names of all members, a 300 dpi photo of the band, full song samples of the band’s music (this may be used on a radio broadcast to promote the event), and we need to be made aware of any band member who may be under 21 years of age at the time of the competition so the venue is aware ahead of time for Oregon or Washington Liquor Commission laws.
  • We require that any act that moves forward in the competition must use the same band members that they won the rounds with. In other words, if you won with a certain bass player or drummer at the Waterfront Blues Festival, that bassist and drummer must be in your band to compete in Memphis. Exceptions will made in rare circumstances when not under control of the act, such as health issues.
  • We do not prevent acts competing with the Cascade Blues Association from doing so with other societies. All that we ask is that if you win another group’s competition before ours is held, or if you win ours before theirs, please remove yourself from further competitions to allow other acts the chance to win the right to go to Memphis.
Journey To Memphis All-Stars

The Journey To Memphis is the Cascade Blues Association’s regional competition to select the acts that will represent our organization and region in next year’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, held in early 2018. More than 250 acts from around the world converge on Beale Street to perform before music industry representatives who are searching for new talent, with the chance to win recognition and prizes that include major festival performances and more. But the only way an act may participate is to win a regional competition held by one of The Blues Foundation’s affiliated societies like the Cascade Blues Association.

The Journey To Memphis competition consists of two rounds. The opening round will be held in early June at a venue to be determined.  The event may take place over more than one night depending on the number of acts wishing to compete. Acts are scored by a trio of judges selected for their backgrounds and knowledge of the blues. The highest scoring acts from each night of competition (up to four acts) will advance to the finals held at the Waterfront Blues Festival on July 4th.

Applications to participate in the competition will be accepted from now until Wednesday, April 5 at the Cascade Blues Association membership meeting. No late applications will be accepted. All eligible acts that meet our criteria as described below will be able to compete. The performance schedule for the competition is drawn at random.

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  • Entry fee is $25.00
  • Each act must have at least one person in the band who is a member of the Cascade Blues Association.
  • Only acts located within the region of Oregon, Washington or Idaho are allowed to enter the Journey To Memphis.
  • Any act that has been nominated for or received a Blues Music Awards from The Blues Foundation are ineligible to compete.
  • Any act that has competed in the International Blues Challenge two consecutive years, regardless whether with the same society or as a solo/duo or band act, must sit out a year before being allowed to compete again.
  • Along with your $25.00 application fee, send an up-to-date band bio including names of all members, a 300 dpi photo of the band, full song samples of the band’s music (this may be used on a radio broadcast to promote the event), and we need to be made aware of any band member who may be under 21 years of age at the time of the competition so the venue is aware ahead of time for Oregon or Washington Liquor Commission laws.
  • We require that any act that moves forward in the competition must use the same band members that they won the rounds with. In other words, if you won with a certain bass player or drummer at the Waterfront Blues Festival, that bassist and drummer must be in your band to compete in Memphis. Exceptions will made in rare circumstances when not under control of the act, such as health issues.
  • We do not prevent acts competing with the Cascade Blues Association from doing so with other societies. All that we ask is that if you win another group’s competition before ours is held, or if you win ours before theirs, please remove yourself from further competitions to allow other acts the chance to win the right to go to Memphis.

The Journey To Memphis is the Cascade Blues Association’s regional competition to select the acts that will represent our organization and region in the next year’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, held in early 2018. Up to 250 acts from around the world converge on Beale Street to perform before the music industry searching for new talent, with the chance to win recognition and prizes that include major festival performances and more. But the only way an act may participate is to win a regional competition held by one of The Blues Foundation’s affiliated societies like the Cascade Blues Association.

The Journey To Memphis competition consists of two rounds. The opening round will be held in early June at a venue to be determined.  The event may take place over more than one night depending on the number of acts wishing to compete. Acts are scored by a trio of judges selected for their backgrounds and knowledge of the blues. The highest scoring acts from each night of competition (up to four acts) will advance to the finals held at the Waterfront Blues Festival on July 4th.

Applications to participate in the competition will be accepted from now until Wednesday, April 5 at the Cascade Blues Association membership meeting. No late applications will be accepted. All eligible acts that meet our criteria as described below will be able to compete. The performance schedule for the competition is drawn at random.

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  • Entry fee is $25.00
  • Each act must have at least one person in the band who is a member of the Cascade Blues Association.
  • Only acts located within the region of Oregon, Washington or Idaho are allowed to enter the Journey To Memphis.
  • Any act that has been nominated for or received a Blues Music Awards from The Blues Foundation are ineligible to compete.
  • Any act that has competed in the International Blues Challenge two consecutive years, regardless whether with the same society or as a solo/duo or band act, must sit out a year before being allowed to compete again.
  • Along with your $25.00 application fee, send an up-to-date band bio including names of all members, a 300 dpi photo of the band, full song samples of the band’s music (this may be used on a radio broadcast to promote the event), and we need to be made aware of any band member who may be under 21 years of age at the time of the competition so the venue is aware ahead of time for Oregon or Washington Liquor Commission laws.
  • We require that any act that moves forward in the competition must use the same band members that they won the rounds with. In other words, if you won with a certain bass player or drummer at the Waterfront Blues Festival, that bassist and drummer must be in your band to compete in Memphis. Exceptions will made in rare circumstances when not under control of the act, such as health issues.
  • We do not prevent acts competing with the Cascade Blues Association from doing so with other societies. All that we ask is that if you win another group’s competition before ours is held, or if you win ours before theirs, please remove yourself from further competitions to allow other acts the chance to win the right to go to Memphis.

What can be better than a day on the Portland Spirit, floating along the Willamette River, dancing and listening to the sounds of some of our region’s finest blues musicians? This October you’ll have the opportunity to experience three decks of gut-crunching, soul-lifting blues and also help raise funds to send the Cascade Blues Association’s Journey To Memphis winners to Tennessee to compete in the International Blues Challenge in late January/early February.

The Portland Blues Cruise was the brainchild of Rae Gordon while she was searching for a way to raise funds for her band’s trip to the IBC several years ago, and it was so popular and successful that it’s carried on now to its third year. Rae and her band, The Backseat Drivers, will once again be representing the CBA in Memphis, so they’ll be working the main stage on the middle deck of The Portland Spirit. Solo winner David Pinsky and Youth Showcase entry Timothy James will be featured on the top acoustic deck. Also helping out will be former CBA IBC artists Franco Paletta, Blues Music Award winner Lisa Mann, and other special guests who will be sure to add to the fun.

The Portland Spirit will be decked out in a Memphis theme, including food that can be purchased on board. This year’s Portland Blues Cruise will depart on Saturday, October 8, from Tom McCall Waterfront Park, 750 SW Front Avenue, at 3:00 pm. Boarding gates will open at 2:30 pm. Tickets are now on sale through Tickettomato.com for $25.00. Admission will be $30.00 on site, but best to buy in advance as this event will more than likely sell out.

(Please Note: For those folks who are planning on attending the Oregon Music Hall of Fame show that same night, you’ll have time to do both! The Portland Spirit will return and unload at 5:00 pm, giving ample time to head off to the Aladdin Theatre).

Journey To Memphis All-Stars

From the listener’s seat

The Waterfront Blues Festival is my favorite Portland event. Where else can you see a whole year of blues entertainment with 15,000 of your closest friends for a $10 ticket?

We all love the headliners, but I always go to hear the up-and-coming artists. And what better place to catch them than our own Journey to Memphis competition? After my last visit to the International Blues competition, I was hooked. Memphis is my ancestral home, and a visit gives me a chance to see the family and cheer for our Portland band. For 2016, I am committed. How committed?  I told my mom I was coming, and that’s committed. So here is my report of the competition,  from the plastic chairs.

Independence Day, Portland, OR

Oregonian Front Porch Stage,

Early in the Morning I Can’t Get Right

It’s a cool, cloudy June-uary morning in Portland. To make it in from the ‘burbs for the 11:30 AM show, you have to hustle. There is only one coffee stand at the festival, and the line was about a mile long.  Nothing says Memphis like Coke for breakfast.

Here’s the rundown: four bands each get a twenty-five minute set. Three judges score on blues content, originality, stage presence, instrumental work, and vocals. One winning band goes to Memphis. Penalty points if you go over your twenty-five minutes, and that can cost you the prize.

Downhome Blues

Band #1 The Thunder Brothers.

Members: 4 piece band with 2 guitars, bass, drums

Guitars: Blackie Strat, 2 Teles, Les Paul (What can I say, I’m a guitar geek)

Several members have been prior competitors. The brothers opened with a shuffle, and got a great SRV vibe . Loved the line “if you’re gonna hurt me, you better hurt me good”. I counted four guitar switches in one set. That was brave. If I tried that with my band they would probably (to quote an old Memphis colloquialism) “peench my head off.”  The set included a scat solo, and a Bo Diddley style number with pounding toms that had us early risers drumming along. They finished with another shuffle with a single note line reminiscent of “Cold Shot.” Portland served up its own cold shot with a cloudy 60-degree morning.  Coke for breakfast doesn’t play in Portland. The coffee line parted enough to get Americano at the break, while the next band set up.

Band #2: Beacon Street Titans

Members: 5 piece band with guitar, piano, upright bass, sax, drums

Guitar: Gold strat

This band had the sharpest dressed front man. They came out swinging hard, with a jump blues featuring a harmonica solo. By the first solo, the swing dancers hit the dance floor. The piano sound came in late kenahora (Yiddish for keep the evil eye away), be careful about telling stories of past sound problems. The “Bad Habit” song featured a great T-Bone style solo. The “Please Pick Up The Phone” song reminds me of my house…would somebody please get that? I loved the harp solos, and thought the group could have used more. One thing was bugging me. Portland has a Beacon Street? Who knew?

Band #3: Rae Gordon and the Back Street Drivers

Members: 7 piece band, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, horn section

Guitar: Guild Manhattan, Guild Starfire

The folks at the table with me were friends of the band, they helped me id the Guilds.  My Sister Mercy friends were a few tables over and dropped by so say hi. This band had the best vocals so far, and the only female vocalist of the contest. With more piano problems we had to wait for the Hammond. When it came in it was worth the wait. The horn section got the dancers up. The slide solo on the Manhattan brought out the missing catfish, like a good slide always does. Next up, a slow song, and the dancers stuck it out and waltzed on.  Three guitar switches in the set. Nervy, but you have to be nervy to back-seat drive in Portland. Rae really sold it with the “Mississippi Mud” number. We could all feel it. After all Oregon is the Mississippi of the West. And anyone from Mississippi in the Portland Blues scene has automatic yichis (distinguished lineage).

Band #4: Ben Rice Band

Members: 5 piece band, guitar, bass, drum, sax, piano

Guitar: Custom Washboard Tele

The washboard guitar looked like a Telecaster that had been treated like a Louisiana crawfish – pinch the head off, pull the guts out, throw the body away. This band had the best slide solo of the day. Ben was awesome trading fours with the horns. The set included what must be a traditional “Ida Mae.” (A top name on the popular baby blues name list.) One of my favorite Portland players was on the keys, Mac Potts, who we all used to watch on the kids stage. Once his solo finally came in, it gave me the chills. Or maybe it was the June-uary wind. Mac sang backing vocals on “Last Night I Got Loaded.” Careful Mac, that song is based on a true story. It was my favorite cover of the contest. One of the Cajun washboard guys from the next set hopped on stage to join in. Not to last, no jamming in the competition.  I thought Ben was the best front man of the day, and the outro vamp band introduction showed the best showmanship. This was my pick to win.

You Upsets Me Baby

The judges took five minutes to tally the results for the last band, as they had done after every set for the previous three. For the bands, the wait must have seen slower than the Interstate Bridge on a hot Friday. My tablemates picked the Backseat Drivers, with an admitted bias. And they were right. Rae Gordon and her band carried the day. Rae, I’ll see you in Memphis! And the rest of you Portland blues fans, get out there and hear some music. And if you can swing it, come down to Memphis to cheer on the band.

Until next time,

Jazzy Jeff Levine
‘Burbs of Portland
Oregon, USA

(Note: Jeff had submitted this story after the August deadline, but we felt it was worth publishing now. Thanks Jeff!)

On an overcast, humid afternoon at the Waterfront Blues Festival, the Cascade Blues Association held its 17th annual Journey To Memphis finals.

In early June, eighteen bands began the competition to select the Cascade Blues Association’s representative for the International Blues Challenge next January in Memphis. The Rose Room hosted two hard-fought evenings of music where CBA judges determined the four finalists to perform during the Waterfront Festival.

One thing was certain, all four finalists were prepared to amaze our judges and delivered some of the very best performances ever seen in our competition. The Thunder Brothers started things out with exactly that — a thunderous set that set the pace for the day’s entire festival. Then the Beacon Street Titans brought a swinging show that had the dance floor moving. Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers then mesmerized the crowd with her soaring voice and muscular big band. Closing the competition was the Ben Rice Band showcasing his guitar prowess and vocals with a knife-sharp performance. This was an unbelievable combination of acts, and each band had the talent and musical ability to represent CBA in Memphis and make us proud.

Given this incredible collection of talented musicians to evaluate, the judges definitely had the toughest job of the day. Scoring each act separately on blues content, vocals, instrumentation, originality, and stage presence had to be tough as all four acts brought the goods. Huge kudos to our trio of judges, entertainment attorneys Bart Day and Peter Vaughan Shaver and Reno Blues Society board member Sherrie Clay, for taking on this role. Many thanks!

Rae Gordon and the Backseat Drivers - photo by Cherie RobbinsWhen the dust cleared and all acts were finished, the scores came back hailing Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers as the winners of the day. This will be Rae’s second time representing the CBA in Memphis and her third trip overall. Her last trip found her reaching the semi-finals, let’s hope to see her go even further if not all the way to the top this time!

Joining Rae in Memphis will be this year’s solo/duo winner David Pinsky, making his second appearance for the CBA, having represented the organization with Phil Newton two years ago. Also, young guitarist Timothy James will head back and participate in the Youth Showcase. We’d love to see a large grouping of CBA members and local blues fans head back to the International Blues Challenge to cheer our performers on. It’s well worth the experience if you can to see the future of the blues today.

Good luck to Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers and David Pinsky!

Journey To Memphis Competition 2021

July 4 at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival — you know it’s going to be packed to the extreme. People coming for the great musical line-up and the fireworks staking their claim of space in the bowl right from the gate’s opening in the morning. But once you have found your ground for the day, make it a point to head directly to the far north end of the festival, to the Front Porch Stage, to witness one of the greatest and most fun happenings of the festival every year, the Cascade Blues Association’s competition, Journey To Memphis finals. Four bands will be competing to claim the right to travel to Memphis Tennessee this coming January to take part in the world-renown International Blues Challenge, which can lead to international recognition and prizes including spots at many high-profile festivals and venues.

The 2016 Journey To Memphis began in early June when eighteen acts performed before a set of judges at The Rose Room over two nights. And those acts fielded one of the strongest line-ups in the history of this event. They were: Beacon Street Titans, Ben Rice Band, CD Woodbury Band, David Brothers, David Pinsky, Eric Sugar Larsen Group, Holfar Blue, Joanne Broh Band, JT Wise Band,  Julie Amici, Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers, Randy Morrison’s Party Bus, Rogue Rage Duo, The England Trio, The Thunder Brothers, Tim Connor, Timothy James, and William “Froggy” Hyland. Each played twenty minutes with the top two highest scores from each night moving on to the finals at the Waterfront Blues Festival.

Photo Jun 05, 3 31 16 PMThe event mimics the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in its structure, with each act being scored in five categories: blues content, talent – vocals, talent – instrumentation, originality, and stage presence. Our judges for the first round were three adept individuals with a wealth in backgrounds of music education, theory, promotion, teaching and performance: Darlene Solomon-Rogers (aka Blacque Butterfly), John Jaqua, and Herb Kanne.

Beacon Street Titans

Beacon Street Titans

Starting at 11:30 am on July 4 on the Front Porch Stage, the four finalists will perform twenty-five minute sets before three new judges. Each act has its own distinct style and all are powerful and exciting. They are: Beacon Street Titans, Ben Rice Band, Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers, and The Thunder Brothers.

Ben Rice Band

Ben Rice

Congratulations to David Pinsky, who will represent the Cascade Blues Association in Memphis as our solo/duo entry. Each affiliated blues society of The Blues Foundation is allowed to send a band, a solo/duo and a youth act to the International Blues Challenge. As our highest scoring solo/duo act over the two nights at The Rose Room, David has won the right to participate in Tennessee. Timothy James as the only under-age act of the competition has been invited to take part in the Youth Showcase in Memphis.

Rae Gordon

Rae Gordon

This will be the Cascade Blues Association’s eighteenth year been sending acts to the International Blues Challenge for eighteen years and holding the Journey To Memphis competition for seventeen. A few of the acts that we have sent include Junkyard Jane, Robbie Laws, Bill Rhoades & The Party Kings featuring Michael Osborn, Franco Paletta & The Stingers, Ty Curtis Band, multi-Blues Music Award nominee Karen Lovely, and two –time Blues Music Award winner Lisa Mann.

Thunder Brothers

Thunder Brothers

 

Set times for this year’s Journey To Memphis Finals are as follows:

11:30 – The Thunder Brothers

12:10 – Beacon Street Titans

12:50 – Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers

1:30  –  Ben Rice Band