The Billtown Blues Association (BBA) will hold its annual "Billtown Blues Challenge" festival audition concert March 25 at the Genetti Hotel Grand Ballroom, 200 W. Fourth St. This year marks the 20th anniversary of these auditions. The doors will open at 3 p.m. The solo-duo competition will begin at 4 p.m. and the band competition begins at 6 p.m. Admission is $10. Tickets will be sold at the door only. There will be $1 drafts and food available for sale.
The winners of the band and the solo-duo competition will perform at the 23rd Annual Billtown Blues Festival June 10.
Entrants in the solo-duo category are Kim and Ed Rhoades, John "JT Blues" Thompson, Sean Farley and Frank Wicher and Chris Trasatti.
The Band category will feature Miz Ida and the All-Nightas, Scoville Blues, Hyatt Howe Band and Roy G. Blues. Performers will be judged and the winners determined by current BBA members in attendance.
In addition to performing at the Billtown Blues Festival, winners of this competition also will be eligible to submit to represent the BBA at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis for 2013, which showcases some of the finest blues acts in the world. The IBC provides the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the biggest folks in the music business, an opportunity of a lifetime. The IBC in Memphis presents some of the finest acts in the world.
As in past years, this concert will be sure to have something for everyone and a chance for blues fans to come together for a great day of fun and music.
About the performers
Kim and Ed Rhoades
Kim and Ed Rhoades are a husband-wife musical duo, who perform originals along with some standards and obscure material. Kim's heartfelt vocals have been described as soulful and sultry and her flowing bass lines give the music a dimension not present in most duo offerings. Ed's a prize-winning songwriter who has performed his original compositions for radio stations WMMR, WIOQ, WXPN, TV 29 and The Philadelphia Hometown Album. His dynamic acoustic guitar playing features rhythm and lead as well as fingerstyle. Kim and Ed, had the honor of opening up Martins On Main Street for the past summer's Martinfest. They are playing a growing number of festivals and coffeehouses, and their music is featured on compendiums and local radio shows. (On the Susquehanna Valley Christmas CD, they performed a blues version of "Jingle Bells.") For more information, visit www.edrhoades.com.
John "JT Blues" Thompson
John "JT" Thompson grew up in central Pennsylvania, but soon found himself in Louisiana and Mississippi, playing the blues and absorbing bayou culture, which included playing with Cajun swamp-pop artists Charles Mann, Lil' Alfred Babino and opening shows for B.B. King, Bob Segar and the Pointer Sisters. After a Biloxi hurricane, JT headed to Atlanta, where he continued working up and down the East Coast. He later joined Lotsa Poppa, touring the Southeast and appearing regularly at Atlanta Blues clubs. In 2002, JT returned to the Pennsylvania mountains, where his powerful blues and boogie piano playing has made him a fixture on the local music scene.
For more information, visit www.jtblues.com.
Born in Williamsport, music was a part of Farley's life at a very early age. The guitar is his current mainstay instrument, but violin, piano, drums and singing were its predecessors. Now, his love for guitar has come full circle with a certification in Lutherie (the crafting of stringed instruments). Farley now plays guitars that he hand-built, through a self-built, old style, hand-wired tube amp. Farley has been a two-time semifinalist in the IBCs, taken the stage at the Billtown Blues Festival six times, and has opened for bands like Yes and Blue Oyster Cult. He has shared the stage on several tours as a lead guitar player for the "Georgia Song Bird" E.G. Kight, recorded on her album "It's Hot In Here," and is still her main guitarist in the Northeast.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/seanfarleymusic.
Frank Wicher and Chris Trasatti
Frank Wicher is a singer-songwriter who's been involved in music his whole life. Wicher played music five nights a week in many clubs in the Toledo, Ohio area. Wicher moved to Pennsylvania in 1993. He continued writing songs while raising his family. In 2009, he started his band - the Frank Wicher Band. Since then, he has recorded two albums, "Can I Be Frank with You," and "Born to Be Me!" Wicher sings and plays guitar and harmonica. Chris Trasatti plays the harmonica. Trasatti has been playing harp for thirteen years. He started out playing country and bluegrass. Trasatti is looking forward to entering the Blues Challenge as a duo with Frank Wicher. Fore mor information, visit www.frankwicher.com.
and The All-Nightas
Miz Ida and the All-Nightas are comprised of a group of dedicated blues veterans with deep roots in the Williamsport blues scene. The band is singer Cheryl "Miz Ida" Miller, Nuclear Dave Krempasky on bass, guitarists Lori Smith and Big Al Meck, drummer Roy Pursel and harmonica player Diamond Dave Thompson. The group performs a diverse mix of original and cover blues songs. This band's members go as far back as the blues scene has existed in Williamsport. They have played multiple blues festivals and taken part in every benefit that has taken place, always willing to help those in need. While the band names may have changed from time to time, the members have always been on the scene. They are a contemporary blues band with leanings toward the traditional styles and perform a diverse mix of original and cover blues tunes with a twist of funk and soul. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/mizidaandtheall nightas.
The Scoville Blues Band is a high-energy blues band based out of Bucks County and has been playing the Philadelphia Tri-State area for more than four years. From contemporary blues rock to traditional Chicago and Texas styles, to funky New Orleans blues, the band has something for everybody. Band members include: Dave "Bags" Badgley on harp, sax and vocals, Jim Bowman on drums, Kenny Githens on bass, Dave Piersig on lead vocals and percussion and Jay "Blue Jay Slim" Pinkus on lead guitar and vocals. The band has opened for rock legend Dave Mason at The Scottish Rite Auditorium, blues greats Walter Trout and Chris Cain and played at the 4th annual "Taste of Philadelphia Festival" at Penn's Landing. For more information, visit www.scovilleblues.com.
Hyatt Howe Band
The Hyatt Howe Band was formed by Kevin Hyatt and Tom Howe. Hyatt and Howe are experienced musicians with rich musical backgrounds bringing together their individual talents to craft a solid, unique sound based on pop, rock, R&B and blues elements. Hyatt also writes the band's original material. Howe's musical background began with formal degrees in music. Hyatt's musical experiences began at an early age, with solid influences in country and rock. Hyatt played lead guitar while enlisted in the U.S. Navy often playing for the ship's crew and performing bigger venues in Europe. William Post's musical background began at age 14, inspired by his father. Post has performed with worship teams, traveling revivals and a regional orchestra. For more information, visit www.kevinhyatt.com.
Roy G. Blues Band
The Roy G Blues Band is relatively new to the Billtown Blues scene. The group is a four-piece unit consisting of David May (who grew up in northern Canada) on lead vocals and harp. A self-taught harp player, he draws inspiration from many of the greats like Sonny Boy, Little Walter, George Smith as well as local legends like Charlie Moore, Dave Thompson and Nate Myers. Tim Reinhard performs on bass for the band. Originally of Canton, he now resides in Montoursville. He is a self-taught bass player and the oldest soul of the band. Mark Peterson's passion for the drums started at age 12, when his parents bought him his first drum set. Peterson spent his earliest days in Boston, Mass., and Wolfeboro, N.H. For more information, visit www.roygblues.com.
For IBC guidelines, judging criteria and more information visit the "auditions" page at www.billtownblues.org.