When Roy G. Blues took the stage during the Billtown Blues Challenge in the spring, guitarist David Mark did not think his band would win. But it did, and this weekend it will hold a concert fundraiser to help pay for costs for Memphis.
"We were shocked (when the band found out it had won)," Mark said. "We had no clue."
From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday, the band will play at Mill Tavern in Montoursville, with Shawn Strickland, solo winner in this year's Natchel' Blues Challenge in Virginia Beach, Va., opening. Raffles will be available and all proceeds will help the band compete in the International Blues Championship Jan. 29 to Feb. 2.
Roy G. Blues will represent the Billtown Blues Association in the 2013 International Blues Challenge. Musicians include, from left, guitarist David Mark, drummer Mark Peterson, bass player Tim Reinhard and lead singer and harmonica player David “Deej” May.
The band had its first public appearance in June 2011. By December, it submitted a demo CD as part of the audition entry requirements.
"I feel the reason we were chosen to represent the (Billtown Blues Association) was the amount of time and dedication devoted to preparing for the audition," Mark said. "All of the bands participating were extremely talented, and it was an honor sharing the stage with those acts."
Shortly after winning, an unexpected twist forced the band to come up with unique ways to continue practicing.
IF YOU GO
concert for Roy G. Blues, with Shawn Strickland opening
WHEN: 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: Mill Tavern, 319 Broad St., Montoursville
"Right around the time we won the audition, the lead singer was offered a job in South Carolina," Mark said.
To compensate, singer David "Deej" May returned to the area a few days before every gig to prepare with his bandmates - Mark, drummer Mark Peterson and bass player Tim Reinhard.
Technology now has helped make practices easier. By using social media website Google Plus and hooking a laptop through the PA system, "we're playing with him live," Mark said.
The fundraisers will continue next month. On Nov. 17, Roy G. Blues will play with Miss Ida and the All Nightaz at the Valley Inn in DuBoistown.
On Nov. 18, the Billtown Blues Association will hold Fall into the Blues, one of the three annual organization events, said Bonnie Tallman, association secretary.
The primary focus of the event is to help the local people who will go to the International Blues Championship. In addition to Roy G. Blues, Sean Farley qualified to go after winning the solo-duo portion of the Billtown Blues Challenge audition.
The only way to compete in the International Blues Championship is to win a challenge with one of the 250 affiliated members of The Blues Festival around the world.
About 130 to 150 bands and 70 to 100 solo acts perform during the championship, Tallman said.
Bands get two chances to move to the semifinals, Mark said.
While some bands that perform make the trip into a "pilgrimage," Tallman said, by visiting tourist attractions, such as Sun Studios, Roy G. Blues will just be there for the week.
"Some bands we have selected here hope for a stepping stone in their career," Tallman said. "Others go for fun. It's what they make of it."
In addition to Tallman, Mark wanted to thank Tom and Lori Butler, Charlie Lockard, the Billtown Blues Association and Richard Rupert at Green Valley Recording for the opportunity to compete.