I just got back from watching the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. I have gone 4 or 5 times now and it's always the same. It seems to be mostly dumb luck as to who gets to the finals. I guess having to do with what room you are in and what those judges had for dinner. The Colorado Blues Society band got beat out by a strange Italian group that was playing what could barely even be called Blues. Bands I thought were great didn't even make the finals and bands that were IN the finals made you say "What the heck are they doing here?!" At least they have gotten over their fear of voting for women fronted bands and the woman who won was pretty good, That said, if I ever do get to go, I won't feel bad about not making the finals. Their system clearly needs work.
The highlight of the trip for me was a showcase I went to at the Purple Haze. It is a club one block off Beale St. and Blind Raccoon Promotions was showing off their artists. One artist in particular caught my attention. She was the most unlikely of people, she didn't know how to dress, she wasn't slim or young, she looked like someone's crazy grandma. You wanted to laugh when you first saw her. Then she started to sing. The more she sang and talked about her experiences and how she had written the songs, I began to see her inner beauty, and by the time we had gone up to buy a CD and got her to sign it, I was almost in tears. She had a joy for life that so many of us are missing. She loved music and everyone who loved it too was her friend. She had a great song about a guy who sang in the NYC subway for cigarettes and beer called "Punk Rock Johnny Cash". She sang of bad relationships, "Hades bride" and dusty Texas highways and you knew she had really been there. When you face those bad times you either come out cynical and hateful or you figure out what is really important in life and learn to rise above the fear to love. I hope someday I can be as cool as Karen Lovely.