The Billtown Blues Association continues to provide area blues lovers with quality performances for their listening and viewing pleasure, as they present their annual "Fall into the Blues" concert.
Four blues acts will take the stage at 4 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Grand Ballroom at the Genetti Hotel, 200 W. Fourth St. Door open at 3:30 p.m.
The association held its Billtown Blues Challenge auditions in March to determine the opening act of the "Billtown Blues Festival," which was held in June. The winners of the local challenge are then eligible to compete in the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, Tenn.
Neil “Porkroll” Taylor will perform with The Porkroll Project at the Billtown Blues Association’s “Fall into the Blues” concert, which will be held at 4 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Grand Ballroom at the Genetti Hotel, 200 W. Fourth St. For more information about “Fall into the Blues” or about the Billtown Blues Association, visit www.billtownblues.org.
"Fall into the Blues" is a fundraiser that helps with the challenge winners' expenses when they go to Memphis. This year's IBC will be held Jan. 29 through Feb. 2.
The four performers for this year's concert are Shawn "Dirty" Strickland, The Porkroll Project, Sean Farley and Roy G. Blues. Strickland and The Porkroll Project were the 2011 Billtown Blues Challenge winners and Farley and Roy G. Blues won this year's challenge. All four played at the Billtown Blues Festival in June. The 2011 winners also performed in Memphis earlier this year, according to Bill VanCampen, blues association president.
Bonnie Tallman, association secretary, said the concert, which began in 1997, was not originally a fundraiser - it simply was a fall concert for the association.
"It's been great because bands who win the prior year, most always volunteer their services to help the band that is going this year," she said. "I think the thing that's really special about it is, the musicians are so into supporting each other. It's kind of like a musician's concert because a lot of the area players come to see who is playing and they are fans of other musicians."
Tallman said Roy G. Blues came into the competition with no expectations of winning, but were pleasantly surprised to come out on top as the band competition winners.
"They just wanted to participate and they just really connected with the crowd instantly," she said. "The voting is always very competitive ... it's so great when an unexpected winner comes forward."
Farley, winner of the solo competition, had an instant connection with the audience as soon as his fingers touched his guitar.
"He just immediately mesmerized the audience," Tallman said. "Before he even sang, just his introduction on his guitar, just absolutely caused the audience to go from loud and boisterous to totally quiet. He had them in the palm of his hand right from the beginning to the end. It was chilling. It was so spectacular."
Attendance for "Fall into the Blues" is key, but never seems to be lacking. If attendance is high, everything else seems to fall into place, according to Tallman.
"Attendance has always been good and it usually overflows into the balcony above the ballroom," VanCampen said. "We get a lot of support and we even get people that will help with donations beyond the price of the ticket, just to help send the bands to Memphis."
The bands will have their own CDs for sale and the Blues Association also will have other CDs for sale to help with the fundraising for the event. There also will be food available for purchase provided by the Genetti.
Tickets for "Fall into the Blues" are $8 for blues association members and $10 for non-members. They are available for purchase at the door. For more information about Fall into the Blues or the Billtown Blues Association, visit www.billtownblues.org.