Back from the South, back to a mild but still wintery Canada. I journeyed to Memphis (by way of Minneapolis) to participate in the International Blues Challenge, but first I travelled to Clarksdale, MS, with some friends (thanks for driving, Barry), so I could perform at The Hambone Gallery...a delightful combo of art by co-owner/artist/drummer Stan Street and a juke joint (his partner/wife Dixie is also a drummer, frequently in the company of Leo Bud Welch). The night was a howling success, ending with a little moonshine tasting, money in pocket and cd sales, then back to Memphis by 1 a.m. Next day, after an excellent country breakfast (chicken-fried steak, eggs, grits, biscuits and gravy) at The Blue Plate, I went to the New Daisy Theatre on Beale Street to get my accreditation pass and attend exactly the same orientation speech as last year, and put my cds in the IBC store. The venue I would perform in on Wednesday and Thursday was familiar, Pig on Beale...I'd eaten there on earlier trips and knew the lay-out. Back to my hotel (sadly the old Main Street trolley wasn't running, making it a fair walk (or a taxi ride, with guitars) to all the action. Check strings, clean up, and back to Pig on Beale for a barbecued bologna sandwich and a beer before show-time. I caught several of the other acts in my venue and was hugely impressed with Rob Europe, from Long Island NY. A rousing set (helped by the fact that I had numerous fans from the Calgary Blues Music Association in the audience), then Blues City Cafe for a late supper of Catfish (the best) and greens. Next day I did an interview with Vinny Bon Marini for his "Music On The Couch" internet broadcast, and played a song at the Canadian showcase before heading back to the hotel ( I also stuck my head in the door of Murray's Clothing to check out what he had for stage suits). Another pretty killer set (if I do say so myself) and called it a day. I woke to find I had made it to the semi-final round, appearing at Jerry Lee Lewis' club, in the 12 Bar (I played there 2 nights last year). Another killer set, but apparently not what the judges were looking for, as I would go no further in the competition. This wasn't a bad thing...I finally had time to go see the Civil Rights Museum (and walk around in tears for about 45 minutes), have a last feed of Catfish with a friend, and pack for the trip home (my new suit from Murray's is following by mail after being altered.
Memphis to Detroit to Seattle to Calgary, and back into the local gigs, plus a fun house concert at The Jeans Joint in Red Deer. I was sad to think I couldn't open for piano giant David Vest during Winter Blues Fest here, as I am at he Canada Games in Prince George, BC that week (as well as appearing for two shows as the guest in Raoul Bhaneja's play "Life, Death, and the Blues" in Edmonton). Then I got a message from David and I'm touring in Saskatchewan as his guitarist from Feb. 25-28, including Bud's On Broadway in Saskatoon, that city's Winter Blues Fest, and the Stir Crazy Blues Fest in Swift Current (in the lovely old Lyric Theatre). In early March I start work on a new cd...I'll be working the new originals into upcoming shows over the next little while. See you at the gig !