Though most of the happenings that have gone on in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge have already passed before this month, I thought it would be nice to recognize a couple things going on at the event involving the Cascade Blues Association.
First, we are sending a youth act for the first time this year with Justus Reece. The Youth Showcase at the IBC is truly an important event as it proves that this genre is not a dying art form. The young musicians who participate in this are very serious, otherwise they would not make the trip with the expense involved. It gives them a nice insight to how other people their own age are taking on the blues, letting them know that despite what a lot of their peers may think the blues really are cool. These artists will have the chance to participate in jams alongside not only other youth acts, but with the elder contestants and several of the well-established musicians who will be in town. Plus, how many blues artists wouldn’t like the opportunity to play on historic Beale Street?
For the second year in a row, several of the Northwest blues societies will be putting on a showcase featuring all of the performers competing in the IBC. This year those societies, aside from the CBA, include the Washington Blues Society, South Sound Blues Association and the White Rock Blues Society in British Columbia. Being held in Club 152 is a prime location, too. Everybody looking to pick up their passes at will call have to go through the room to get upstairs to where The Blues Foundation people are set up. That means that all going through that Wednesday are exposed to our northwest artists. Plus, it’s not just the competitors on hand performing, as established northwest musicians like Sammy Eubanks, Ben Rice and Dave Melyan all are taking part in this showcase, too.
For me personally, I will be working once again at multiple positions including venue coordinator and stage management at the finals in The Orpheum, with my girlfriend Cherie Robbins helping out this year.
And I must note, I am extremely honored and humbled that The Blues Foundation selected me this year as a recipient of the Keeping The Blues Alive Award, the highest honor giving recognition to non-performers in the blues world. To be one of fifteen recipients (nine individuals, two festivals, a radio station, a blues society, a venue and a record label) world-wide means a lot and it doesn’t escape me the importance of how those who made the nomination and decision feel about the work I have accomplished. My commitment to the CBA and other events that I have been involved with over the years has never been about recognition. It is about my love for the music and the musicians and has always been and always will be about my giving back as much as I can for the enjoyment that I have been provided for so many years by them. It is my aim to continue in doing so, whether as your CBA president or any other capacity that I take on. Thank you all for your belief in me over the years.