“No matter what your talent level, there has to be something a little unsettling about presenting your skills onstage and being judged among your peers. And when one looks at the scope of performances at the recent 20th Annual Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society’s Blues Competition, it would appear that solo performers have a daunting task indeed. Gary Applegate (www.garyapplegate.com) of Indianapolis, IN met that challenge head on during his performances last Saturday.
While bands competing in the contest certainly have an advantage of a fuller sound and a livelier stage, Applegate utilized a few talents of his own as well. The competition witnessed four solo acts over its two day run with two of those performers advancing to the final round on Saturday evening and a third just barely missing out.
What is it that gave Applegate and Elyria, OH’s Luther “LT” Trammell a ticket to the finals? Several factors come into play for the solo contestant, with two obviously enormous ones being instrumental and vocal talent. When the solo performer walks onto the stage, they are essentially walking on to a blank canvas ready to be painted by their musical talents. Sure full bands will paint their own portrait as well, but often times the same full sound that bands attempt to achieve may also create a less defined vision of the combined talents being presented.
In the competition, blues content is the heaviest weighted scoring category, meaning that all the contestants are assessed a number between one and ten by the judges and then their score is multiplied by a value of four to achieve an acts “blues content” score. While bands may sometimes have the tendency to stray into other musical genres during their performances, the solo artist can strip their presentation down to the essential old school fundamentals of the blues themselves.
While just literally singing the blues may be grandfather of all blues music, one can easily imagine that an acoustic guitar and a harmonica are not too far down that family tree. But while Trammell presented a more traditional performance, Applegate wowed the fans and judges with a little bit of technical know-how to go along with his obvious talent.
“I’ll be playing all the sounds you hear live,” Applegate said to the standing room only crowd before beginning his twenty minute set. Armed not only the traditional acoustic guitar and harmonica instrumentation, Applegate also uses a unique style which allows him to incorporate a bass line and a kick drum sound … all being played by him live!
Through a little modern technology (no more than your average electric or bass guitar player uses in foot pedals or amplifiers), Applegate transforms his two lower strings in the E and A positions, into the bass line and splits the signal to a bass amp onstage. On the floor, Applegate’s right foot becomes a metronome/kick drum which is amplified as well. So far there are two tracks being played … are you following?
The other four guitar strings are played as rhythm and lead during the performance … now there’s three tracks. Next throw in vocals or an occasional blast of harmonica, and yes that right, Applegate is essentially keeping four separate tracks under control at one time! All of which are being played live.
Now it is easy to discuss Applegate’s interesting set up, but ultimately it still boils down to the performer being able to exude the power and emotion on which the blues have relied for hundreds of years. There has to be a felt personal connection between the crowd and the performer, with the artist holding the keys to unlock those emotions.
In a bittersweet manor, Applegate explained the story behind his original song, “Damn It! I’m Lonely” and that sometimes elusive connection was established. It was inspired by his loss of a loved to cancer at far too early of an age.
In years past the BJFMS would award a sponsorship to both a band category and a solo performer, but that was changed a few years back. Luckily for Applegate, the BJFMS came up with an interesting guideline concerning sponsorships of solo performers.
Within the finals of the blues competition, if a solo performer places in the top three spots, he or she will be awarded a sponsorship by the society to the International Blues Challenge. Applegate will be busy in home state of Indiana, before returning on July 6th for the 18th Annual Red, White & Blues Festival in Marietta.
If there’s one thing that people should know about Jimmy Clinton, it’s his partiality to be in a position to rise to the occasion. Sure Clinton enjoys being the spectator from time to time and watching others in that position, be it a Scarlet Knight athlete or a veteran bluesman such as Buddy Guy, but in the end he’s like most people who welcome a good challenge.
Fittingly, Clinton and his band will return to one of his favorite stomping grounds Friday evening, the Worthington Golf Club located at the corner of Fairview and Roseland Avenues in Parkersburg. Except this time instead of strapping a golf bag filled with fourteen clubs over his shoulder, Clinton will be sporting his trusty Stratocaster. As a teen competing in a junior high golf tournaments at the locale, one has to believe Clinton probably never uttered “see that ballroom there … someday I’m going rock that ballroom.”
And that’s the great thing about growing up; it affords one the opportunity to do things they never dreamed of when they were younger. And with the help of bassist Vincenzo Mele and drummer Jeremy Harmon, Clinton is ready to turn it into a reality.
The group played its first formal gig at a private party last December in Parkersburg. From there it was on to the Adelphia Music Hall for a January show with the Carpenter Ants from Charleston. The following weekend the Jimmy Clinton Band once again graced the Adelphia stage as part of the Washington County Humane Society Dylan Tribute show. Over that period of time, fans saw the band slim down to a three piece power trio, a format which has always suited Clinton’s artistic endeavors particularly well.
Now it’s time for the Jimmy Clinton Band to play their first public Parkersburg show. The doors will open at 8 p.m. and shortly thereafter, Don Baker will open the show with his folk sensibility and Americana sounds. Baker’s natural sound will be perfect in the setting of vintage wood paneling.
The Jimmy Clinton Band will finish out the night with its own brand of Americana music, but full on rocking. One of the nice things about the band are the years of musical influences and the input from the fellow veteran musicians, which helps to form a powerful and unique sound. The audience will be treated to some old songs, some cover songs and more importantly, some new songs. “One thing’s for certain, it’s a lot easier to learn songs when only three people have to remember them,” Clinton said.
What this means is that there will be something for everybody at this show. The cover charge is only $5 and they’ll be plenty of libations and dancing … after all it is a ballroom.
From the opening blast of “I Got to Move,” blues fans knew the party was on! As The Tee Dee Young Band launched into the last set of the Saturday evening finals round, the capacity crowd at the 20th Annual Blues, Jazz, Folk Music Society’s Blues Competition was only left to wonder who would place second and third. With the win, The Tee Dee Young Band will represent the BJFMS at the International Blues Challenge (www.blues.org) held in Memphis, TN.
Young took control of the stage with his incendiary guitar playing, as his four piece band created a wall of sound as wide as the mighty Ohio River. The Lexington, KY based guitar slinger gave the audience a full helping of both hot and mild guitar licks from his trusty Parker Fly.
When the stage wasn’t smoking from Young’s guitar work, saxophonist Dan Jackson helped keep the groove smoldering with his down and dirty baritone sound. Along with keyboardist Bruce Smith, the two created some monster tones, allowing Young to concentrate on delivering his powerful blues vocals when not tearing up a guitar solo.
Bassist Billy Linton and drummer Gus Johnson provided an absolutely rock solid foundation for the bands five original songs. The band transitioned flawlessly from one song to another, as the audience tried to find an opening for applause during their clockwork set.
The Tee Dee Young Band will make a return trip to Marietta on March 17th to play at 1 p.m. during the afternoon session of the BJFM Blues Festival. The festival promises to be yet another sell out at the Hotel Lafayette, and one of the biggest days of music in the Mid Ohio Valley. For more info go to www.bjfm.org.
Columbus, Ohio’s Mojo Theory placed second in the competition. The five piece hard rockin’ blues group powered through five original compositions on Friday and Saturday evening. Vocalist Mark Richards kept the crowd enthralled as he wove his lyrical stories.
Guitarist David Wamock offered up some red hot guitar playing while Richards spurred him on from a few feet away. Keyboardist Jeff Morris, bassist Curt CJ Justus and hard hitting drummer Todd Mollette helped conjure up some huge mojo sound.
Once again area blues fans packed the Hotel Lafayette ballroom for day two of the 20th Annual Blues Competition. Ten acts took to the stage in hopes of advancing to Saturday night’s finals. On Friday evening, Big Al & the Capital City Players and Mojo Theory both from Columbus, OH earned a spot in the finals.
On Saturday afternoon, four more acts found their ticket to the finals. Solo artists Luther Trammell of Elyria, OH and Gary Applegate from Indianapolis, IN advanced to the final round. They will be joined by two bands, the Tee Dee Young Band from Lexington, KY and the Magic Mama Band from Gallipolis, OH.
Stay tuned for more details.
It’s a wrap! The 20th Annual BJFM Blues Competition kicked off in top form Friday evening at the Hotel Lafayette in downtown Marietta. Five acts competed in the first preliminary round with hopes of moving on to Saturday’s night finals.
The Hotel Lafayette’s ballroom was packed to capacity as Marietta based Silverhorse opened the competition. The four piece combo presented three original compositions and an interesting rendition of Gershwin’s Summertime.
Next on stage was Chaz Humley and the Effects, a four piece band from Teay’s Valley, WV. The guys presented a high powered brand of blues driven by two electric guitars with solid bass and drums laying the foundation. Their set was comprised of three original songs and an intriguing version of Fire by the late Jimi Hendrix.
It was then time for Big Al & the Capital City Players. Big Al switched gears and hit the overflow crowd with a dose of hard edged harmonica drivin’ blues. Big Al was ready to lay down the boogie, while the three piece Capital Players provided a strong backbeat and some tasteful guitar licks. The crowd even learned a few new dance steps along the way.
The competition’s first acoustic solo act was up as Akron’s Scott Horn took the stage. Horn entertained the crowd with some intense blues picking on his twelve string and later on his six string guitar. Horn schooled the crowd with some old school blues, including a dose of bottleneck to close out his set.
Friday evening’s competition came to an exciting conclusion as Columbus Ohio’s Mojo Theory hit the stage. The five piece hard driving blues act hit the stage in a fever and rocked the final set of music of the night. Mojo Theory engaged the crowd with a SRVish lead guitar and strong vocals all built upon a professional rhythm section.
When the dust settled and all the judge’s votes had been tallied, Mojo Theory and Big Al & the Capital City Players advanced to Saturday night’s final round. Come on up the action starts at 8pm!
The 20th annual BJFMS blues competition will kick off Friday night at 8 p.m. at the Hotel Lafayette ballroom in Marietta. The Friday evening preliminary round will feature five performances from regional contestants. At the end of this round, two winners will move on to the Saturday night finals.
This event is always one of the busiest events of the year, and fans are advised to get to the ballroom an hour early for good seats. The list of contestants performing on Friday evening is as follows.
Friday, February 17 First Preliminary
8-8:20 pm Silverhorse (4 pc. Band) Marietta OH
8:30-8:50 Chaz Humley and the Effects (4 pc. Band) Teays Valley WV
9-9:20 Big Al & The Capital City Players (4 pc. Band) Columbus OH
9:30-9:50 Scott Horn (Solo) Akron OH
10-10:20 Mojo Theory (5 pc. Band) Columbus OH
While some folks may be experiencing the dismal mid-winter blues, area music fans are getting ready to welcome the blues. On Friday evening the 20th Annual Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society’s (bjfm.org) blues competition will kick off at the Hotel Lafayette in downtown Marietta.
The competition originally began as part of the Saturday afternoon entertainment of the BJFMS’s blues festival, which is held annually in March. Organizers of the festival soon found out that one afternoon was not sufficient based upon the number of quality band entries and the competition was moved to February and expanded to two days.
This year’s competition will feature five bands competing for two final’s spots on Friday evening and ten bands vying for four final’s slots on Saturday afternoon. During the Saturday night session, the six finalist bands will duke it out in hopes of representing the BJFMS in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.
This year’s BJFM competition will feature eleven bands and four solo performers, which hail from Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana. The great music starts at 8 p.m. on Friday evening, 12:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon and the finals will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.