Each year, the Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola holds a contest for area blues musicians to compete for placement and representation at the International Blues Challenge held by the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee. As a founding member of the MDBSI, I am proud of our continued efforts to share our Mississippi Delta Blues talent with the world.
I was delighted to assist in the planning of this annual event. This year, the Blues Society decided to host the Band Challenge and Solo/Duo Challenge on separate dates and on Sunday afternoons (quite different from previous years all day format). Janet Webb, our Challenge Committee Chairman, stated “Most bands work on Saturday nights and this change would allow greater participation since most bands are free on Sundays.” And with the day change, we saw an overwhelming response with 8 bands competing. The event was hosted this past Sunday, October 16th at da House of Khafre, a cultural enrichment and learning center serving the Mississippi Delta located at 105 Main Street in downtown Indianola.
Initially, I arrived to simply help support behind the scenes. That immediately changed as Janet asked if I would mind handling emcee duties for the day. Of course, without hesitation; I quickly obliged. I am connected to many of the competing bands and it was a pleasure to introduce each group. The bands were Leaf River Blues Band (Bay Springs), Phillip Carter and the Blues Underground (Clarksdale), Solar Porch (Cleveland), Dave Dunavent and the Evol Love Band (Sumner), All Night Long Blues Band (Clarksdale), The Kevin Waide Project (Tupelo), Bobby Whalen and the Ladies Choice Band (Indianola), and Po Boy King and the Legends of the Blues (Ellisville).
All participating bands were top-notch and proved to be a difficult decision for our band judges. After an almost 30 minute deliberation, results were finally in. Second place was awarded to Dave Dunavent and the Evol Love Band. And this year’s first place band that will represent the Mississippi Delta, Solar Porch.
And that concludes the band portion of the Mississippi Delta Regional Blues Challenge. We will see Solar Porch competing in the 2012 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, Tennessee (January 31 through February 4th, 2012). Again, stay tuned for the Solo/Duo Challenge to be held Sunday, October 23rd at the Blue Biscuit, Indianola’s newest blues-themed restaurant, located at 501 Second Street (directly across from the B.B. King Museum). Remember, there’s more blues talent in this division as well. Mark your calendars and make it a point to come out to the Blue Biscuit for more music and fun. I’ll see you there!