And we have a winner!!!
Your Suncoast Blues Society is proud to announce the winner of their 2021 regional blues challenge…
Memphis Lightning Band consisting of Lightning Thiboutot, Red Thiboutot Sr. and Stephen Jeremia. “Lightning” will now represent the Suncoast in the 37th edition of The Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge! This event will be held January 18 through the 22nd, 2022 along Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.
What an exciting day it was – even though we got off to a late start (some of which we had no control over), the 4 bands that participated put on a great show and the audience appeared to be having a wonderful time.
After drawing for the performance order for the 25-minute sets, Randy Stephens & The Groove Makers started the show, and set the tone with a fine set of original blues music. It is always tough to go first during these competitions. But Randy and the band delivered the goods and set a high bar for the rest of the afternoon.
Following was the eventual winner, Memphis Lighting Band. To say this set was high energy is an understatement. The band presented a set of original material, punctuated with storytelling and a performance that kept the crowd engaged and enthused. The band left the stage receiving much applause.
Veterans of this competition, Memphis Rub Band put on a fine performance of original material. Including songs previously not heard by the many MRB fans in attendance. Arguably this band was never better than they were on July 25th and on another day might have won the competition with their score.
Finally, JSanti & The Gamblin’ Shame took the stage with the largest group of musicians of the day. The ensemble included a group of singers who contributed memorable vocal harmonies. While falling short in the scoring this band showed promise for future competitions.
Approximately 300 faithful blues lovers attended and showed their support. On veteran IBC Challenge performer commented this might have been the largest IBC challenge crowd they had seen. And thanks to the attendees, we were able to raise funds to provide financial assistance to our winning band for their trip to Memphis in January.
Believe it or not, putting on an event like that is a huge amount of work! Your Board has been working on this for the past 7 months, especially our Treasurer and Suncoast Blues News editor, Scott Morris!
Many other people to thank…
Our 5 judges: Mark Thompson, Mark Goodman, Rick Lewis, Velma Glover and Jose Ramirez.
Nicole Wanvig for single-handedly putting together the Silent Auction. Steve Wanvig for being the event timekeeper.
Bill Hubbard, who was not able to attend, but put in many hours on our planning committee.
And to my fellow Suncoast Blues Society Board members: Cheryl Spradling for along with myself work hard at the door taking care of the large walk-up crowd; and Jesse and Pat Smoot who took care merchandise and memberships.
Special thank you to Josh Rowand and his ‘Pitbulls’ (Deny Rowand and Richie Corricelli) who worked their butts off setting up the stage and then tearing it all down afterwards. The sound in the room was awesome! And put on a show of their own while the Board tabulated the judges scores.
Josh Rowand and The Pitbull of Blues Band hosted a great jam. This band knows how to host a jam party! Including in the “musical mayhem” were 2021 Suncoast Blues Society IBC Youth Showcase representative Trey Wanvig, whose wonderful gold-top Gibson was the envy of some musicians; his playing the same for others! “Detroit” Michael Hepner added keyboards to the “Pitbulls” and was joined onstage by “Lightning”. The guitar work between the area’s “young guns” of Lightning and Trey – this might have been the first time they played together. Let us hope it is not the last! Wow!
Steve Arvey joined the jam and our “singing judge” Velma Glover came onstage and showed why with Sugar and Spice she made the final stage at an earlier IBC in Memphis. A surprise guest, former NFL great, 3-time Super Bowl winner with the Oakland Raiders and now a Bluesman Henry Lawrence joined Velma in a smoking version of Steppin’ Out.
And of course, thanks to all of you – the best Blues fans in Florida! – for your continued support through your membership, buying our merchandise, and attending our events!
Next up… Suncoast Blues Society Annual Beach Bash on August 29th at the Sunset Beach Lions Club.
See you there – Terri