The 31st annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., kicks off Tuesday and Cincinnati will have three acts competing this year against more than 100 artists from across the globe.
The Cincy Blues Society sends a pair of performers to the IBC every year via its summertime Cincy Blues Challenge competition. Last year’s local challenge winners were The Sonny Moorman Group, which won in the “Band” category and also won the Challenge’s “Best Self-Produced CD” honors for its album Lucky 13, and Dayton, Ohio’s Jimmy D. Rogers, who was the “Solo/Duo” winner. (Musicians interested in participating in the 2015 Cincy Blues Challenge can apply now at cincyblues.org.)
Moorman and his bandmates (Chris Perreault, Dave Fair and Mike Sonderman) will play a “Road to Memphis” send-off party this Sunday at The Greenwich (2442 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills, the-greenwich.com). The show starts at 6 p.m. and admission is $10.
The Cincy Blues Society is also sending a group of students from its Blues in the Schools program, which brings local Blues artists to area schools for presentations about the music’s history, to Memphis for the IBC’s youth showcase. There will be a benefit to help cover the students’ travel costs Wednesday at The Redmoor (3187 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, theredmoor.com). The BITS band will perform, as well as an all-star group featuring various artists from the Cincinnati Blues scene. Music starts at 7 p.m. and admission is a $10 donation.
Local Blues band The Whiskey Shambles will also be headed to Memphis for the IBC, thanks to winning the Northeast Ohio Blues Association’s Blues Challenge last year. The band will perform at a special send-off party/concert/beer tapping this Friday at the Rivertown Brewing Company’s Tap Room (607 Shepherd Drive, Lockland, rivertownbrewery.com). The Shambles worked with the brewery to create a beer in its honor. The brew, Shambling Southward - Dubbel Barrel Blues, is described as “a Belgian Dubbel fermented with brandy-infused wood chips.” The beer will be tapped at 6 p.m. Friday, with the Shambles performing at 7 p.m. The event is free.
Once the IBC madness dies down, the Cincy Blues Society will present its annual Winter Blues Fest. This year’s event takes place Feb. 6 and 7 and again showcases dozens of local Blues acts — including the Sonny Moorman Group, The Whiskey Shambles and the BITS Band — on three stages at The Phoenix (812 Race St., Downtown, thephx.com). This year the local artists will be joined by national headliners Popa Chubby and Joanne Shaw Taylor. Visit cincyblues.org for full details.
More Local Notes
• Time is running out to vote for your favorite local musical acts in the 18th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. The online ballot (HERE) closes this Thursday at midnight. To find out who won what, be sure to make plans to attend the CEA ceremony/party on Jan. 25 at the Madison Theater (730 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., madisontheateronline.com). Nominated artists Young Heirlooms, Buggs tha Rocka, Mad Anthony, Injecting Strangers and more will perform at the 7 p.m. event. Tickets are available now at cincyticket.com.
• Cincinnati Country music crew Lonesome Jared and the Heart Attacks release their first recording, a self-titled EP, in conjunction with a show this Friday at the Crow’s Nest (4544 West Eighth St., Price Hill, cincycrowsnest.com). The free event begins at 10 p.m. and also features performances by Dixon Creasey Jr. and Patrick Kennedy. For more info on the band (which includes frontman Jared Schaedle on acoustic guitar and vocals, plus stand-up bassist Marc Hoffman and local music veteran David Rhodes Brown on guitar and lap steel), visit facebook.com/lonesomejaredandtheheartattacks.
• Cincinnati Rock foursome New Strange will celebrate the release of its self-titled debut album this Thursday with a free show at MOTR Pub (1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com). The album — a great melodic mix of Punk, Indie Rock and Hard Rock, which you can hear now at newstrange.bandcamp.com — will be available on vinyl and CD at the show, which will also feature a performance by local faves The Dopamines. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. For more on New Strange, visit facebook.com/newstrange.
• Acclaimed local Jazz guitarist Dan Faehnle, onetime guitarist for Diana Krall who has also worked with artists like Eddie Harris, Joey DeFrancesco and Pink Martini, will present a tribute to one of his (and many guitarists’) top influences, the legendary Wes Montgomery, this weekend. Faehnle will be joined by vibraphonist Rusty Burge, bassist Michael Sharfe and drummer Tony Franklin for the tribute shows Friday and Saturday at Washington Platform (1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com). Showtime is 9 p.m. each night and there is a $10 food/drink minimum. For more on Faehnle, head to danfaehnle.com.