(Long, with as many details and names as I could remember)
First, let me start by saying that no matter how many times I go through all the notes, I still fear I will forget to name or thank someone. Feel free to call me out if your name got missed! Everyone who helped, deserves their kudos! And be advised… go to the bathroom first, grab a drink on the way back and then hunker down for a long read…
Memphis Bound…. on a mission to support WiB…
Tuesday, my friend (and a WiB sponsor) Patricia Shamroy Shaw and I landed and got settled in to town. Right away, I ran to the Center for Southern Folklore. Our graphic guru and my partner in crime, Terri Robbins had shipped the posters ahead, so we did not have to load our suitcases down. I grabbed a bunch and headed to Beale. No sooner than walking in Strange Cargo (they always post for us…shop there, please), I start running in to one WiB after another. Missy Anderson in the hotel, Terri Odabi in the store, Betty Fox on Beale, Jackie Scott (My P-town blues sister and I finally got to hug…made me so happy), Beartherer Reddy, and on and on.
I ran in to Doc Malcom at Memphis Music and as they always do, they got one of our posters up for us! He asked for an extra… had to give him one. The man is so supportive of all blues artists! Next, I got over to Tater Reds and gave Tater a big hug with his copy of the poster. Tater is another one on the block who has shared our info every year!
By the late afternoon I was already wiped out from walking and headed to the room to grab more lobby cards to run up to the Double Tree, but it turned out it was too soon for lobby cards. I had to go back again Wednesday morning! As we all know…once you hit Memphis, you cannot walk more than 5 feet without running in to someone! I had already run in to Betsy Paisley and Pat Pepin, Gil Anthony, Marshal Lawrence, David Mathews , Big D, Joe & Sarah Whitmer, found out Chefjimi and Leslie were in the same hotel, where I was. Logan Layman and her whole clan were there as well.
On a side note: It is really interesting trying to coordinate an event in a town you do not live in with people who are all over the world, some in town, some in different time zones. Between texts, calls and emails… I got totally confused more than once! I would swear someone was in Memphis who had not arrived yet. If my time lines are out of wack… you know why! It may say we met Wednesday and it happened Thursday. Don’t be surprised.
On to Wednesday. I headed in early the night before and was ready to hit the ground running. I went to the Double Tree once more, because it was time to get Lobby cards out. I got the showcase, and necklace lobby cards laid out and added our business cards around. Then ran to see Vinny Marini (Music on the Couch). He was getting set up and we bantered a bit and I left some info there as well. Then off to Club 1-5-2 where I placed more of our cards on the table of the 2nd floor IBC store. Of course, I hung out a bit and handed out some necklaces. I had planned on waiting til around check in, but since WiB’s were already out and about… the box was in my hand and as soon as Terri got to town, I got some in her hands as well! I had carved 101 necklaces. We could not get to all the female blues artists at IBC in time or when they were not on a stage! There is a list of those we are 100% have a necklace, below!
Betty Fox gave me the 1st copy of her new demo! It was lucky timing as I wandered Beale. I got a few moments in the sun with Beareather Reddy (or was that Tuesday?). After the orientation I stood outside the New Daisy hawking “Women in Blues”, “Women in Blues” and held up my WiB bag. We found more female blues artists, gave them a necklace, gave or showed them the lobby card we had placed to mention what the necklace meant, filled them in on the showcase and in my later notes, you will see that many women in blues artists who were playing in the IBC came to support their sisters in blues at the showcase. That part was very charming and heartwarming. More on the sappy stuff in a bit.
Wednesday night, and camera in hand. I start working the IBC program and try to hit as many clubs with a female blues act listed. At some point on the journey I happened upon Peter Sloane who caught me dancing to non blues…woot woot. What can I say… it was ‘Happy’. After a few bars of the song I was back on track to the next club. In some cases, I had to cross reference lists to see if a band had a female artist. I charted a course and did manage to get a lot of female acts on video. But not as many as I wanted. The acts were spread out from one end of Beale Street to the other. Some clubs were on time but one or two had gotten off schedule and I walked in as a WiB act finished their last note… when I expected them to start. I missed many the first night because of that. And at least another 3 because of how far out their venues were. Not to mention, I missed even more because I would be ***taping in one club while another WiB was on stage at that same moment, over two blocks away.
ARGHHHHH, can I get a witness? One person, one small camcorder… so little time and no where near the technology of cloning myself.
Thursday is more running the Beale gauntlet. Somewhere in there I managed to see Hurricane Ruth, during the Blind Racoon Showcase (was that Wednesday or Thursday…so lost now). Thankfully, Pete “Bluesman” Lauro was handling sound and I got my hug in early. Plus, he was sweet enough to get a WiB necklace to Ruth as I had to make a meeting. I also got to go to Jenn Ocken and Greg Slim Lively Johnsons ViP event for the book “Blues on Beale Street“. Thanks to Kyle Deibler for giving me a ticket, I was able to attend and see everyone, even got to hug Jay & Pricilla and Rags & Lori. Earlier, Teeny Tucker and Robert Hughes (and his wife) had met me at the Center to look over the venue and not long after, they arrived at the book party, as well. It was really cool to see Sean Carney call Teeny up to sing. Sean is one of the few male artists who is a bad ass player and never ignores the WiB rules. He comes and posts female artists here on a semi-regular. Many of us have noticed that gracious side!
By Thursday night, most everyone had checked in with me. Andrea Zucker (the official WiB photog for this years showcase) and Paula Harris were settled in. I was able to connect with Freddy and her son at the cafe for a bit. Laura Cheadle and her Dad, James, were able to pop in my room for a quick visit. Danette Patton (documentary maker) was getting settled, and I knew I better turn in for the night. I had no shot of being at the Center early if I waited up to find out who was advancing on to the next round of the challenge. I honestly started Friday with no idea of what had happened. I wanted to know, I just had no time.
Early to the Center for Southern Folklore on Friday the 23rd. Judy, Jill and the staff are preparing. Mark Caldwell (Memphis Blues Society) is there to help me with set up and he helped backstage during the show, as well. Terri Robbins arrives soon after to help get banners up and handle necklaces, get the raffle prize from Jenn and Greg out of the box and other details. Betsy Paisley and Pete Lauro show up to set up the counter and get the basket out to raise donations for the Center, sell artists CD’s and check in artists (we raised them OVER $700 in cash donations to further their mission), Teeny and Robert arrive to set up the screens and prep for the show, John Lowe and Wally arrive to set up sound and an hour and a half BEFORE our start time… people were already arriving to stake out seating. Peter Sloan, Anthony Earl and others had camped out their spot to take photos. Leslie K Joseph had a good spot from her shots. An hour before the show and some artists are arriving and more audience. By the noon start time, it was already standing room and it only got more packed as the day progressed.
And man oh man did we have amazing artists on stage. Teeny opened up the show with a bit of history and then the ladies took over. Before I list all of the amazing women scheduled and those who sat in our lent talent to the showcase, I have examined the mistakes on timing and promise that won’t happen again! I know better for next time and take full responsibility. The artists were aware some shifting could take place, even if we did not announce that to the general public. That is why we did not publish the artist schedule in public, but the timing went way off, and that is on me!
Now, on to the artists who performed in the 2015 WiB Showcase, in no particular order: Annika Chambers, Laura Cheadle, Lady Bianca, Bridget Kelly Fik, Pat Pepin, Beareather Reddy, Liz Mandeville, Freddye Stover, Veronika Jackson, Lucy Hammond, Eleanor Tsaig, Teeny Tucker, Logan Layman, Mandy Lemons & Verlinda Zeno, Redd Velvet, Rachelle Coba, Patti Parks, Paula Harris, Terrie Odabi… not to mention that Donnah Dahl, Tracy K, B.b. Queen & Chuckee Zehr sat in… and some of the male artists who joined in (other than current band members), included Owen Owen Owen, Tas Cru, Sonny Rock, Billy The Kid Evanchenko, Tim Fik, Sturgis Nikides, Jeff Jensen and of course Ben Rice with Lucy and Robert Hughes with Teeny. I may even be missing a name or two of WiB’s who sat in as well as some of the coolest men in blues. Feel free to tell me so I can edit them in! Teeny MC’ed the first half and B.b. took over for the second half, with Niecie Blues pitching in and even going so far as being a runner of info (she played last year and came to help her sisters this year). Markey Blue ended up missing the showcase because she got a baby illness…lol, ask her… it’s funny!
I was a moving target. I swear one other WiB said she was going to sit in with one of her sisters in blues. It was truly amazing how many incredibly talented people took the showcase stage. Sad I missed some of the performances but really glad the audience got to see you all. One year, hope to have enough help to not miss a single set!
And the ladies who came to the showcase in support was outstanding. Some had necklaces and others came to get them and many got to speak with the documentary maker, instruments were loaned, call and responses given. We did try to point all these women out, and some were in the room when their names got called. Yes, we got them to stand and wave so media could find them. A few WiB’s we called out by name, had already moved on to their next obligations. We were still happy these ladies were part of the showcase and we did sell some of their CD’s as well as those in the showcase. Those on our list of WiB’s who came in support include, Amanda Rey, Sarah & Reagan Kimberly (the youngest in the bunch at 10 & 12), Betty Fox, Joanne LeBlanc, Cat Rhodes, Leslie Barkman, Mz Peaches, Gail Selkirk, Tamara Nicolai, Ali & Jen Fisher (Mojo Bag). Eef Guitar, Tullie Brae, Ashanti Karimah Marshall of Two Blue (not to be confused with 2Blue), Ellie Johnson and more. Not to mention…some of our coolest WiB supporting sisters, Karen Lovely who came to intro our MC & performer Teeny Tucker’s set, Niecie Blues who basically helped with anything and I think might have sat in as well (she played last year), and Dalanah Gail Bowen who not only came, talked to the documentary maker AND she loaned out her bass player to several artists… I swear I was told she got to sit in on stage, as well. Maybe others did and I missed it. That is how crazy a day it was. The house was packed in the back hall and the store front. Like sardines. Attendance was estimated at between 500-600 people throughout the day.
Just so you know… I only I found out late in the day that Bridget Kelly, Lucy Hammond, Lady Bianca and Terri Odabi had all advanced to semi-finals… not to mention Betty Fox, Dalanah & Owen, Christine & Brat Pack, Libby Ray Watson, Rae Gordan and a bunch more. I had no clue they were all in the semi finals and several made it to finals as well! I was really tickled to hear about the WiB’s who made it through and I know there was at least one female guitar shredder in a finals band.
I promised a list of ladies that got a necklace: Arley Hughes, Tullie Brae, Barbara Blue, Moon Anderson, Monica Morris, Josie Lowder, Katfight Keys (Gail Selkirk & Chuckee Zehr), Donna Dahl, Christine from Brat Pack, Missy Anderson, Jackie Scott, Amanda Rey, Betty Fox, Cat Rhodes of Cat Rhodes and The Truth, Monica Lynn Chase, Willow from The Bonnevillian, Tamara Nicolai, Brenda from Two Blue, Britt from Leif de Leeuw Band, Angie C from Chris Canas Band, Veronicka from Red Wine Serendade, Kimberly Dill of Sister Lucille, Leah Tussing from the Rafael Tranquilino Band, Leslie Barkman, Susan Barrette of Coyote Bill Boogie Band, Nancy Reid of Root2 Music, Caryn Schroeder of Big N Tasty Blues Band, Hurricane Ruth, Ellie Johnson, Rae Gordon, Kelly Authier, Cara Hatfitz of Hatfitz and Cara, Jennifer Milligan of Lil Red & the Roosters, Libby Rae Watson, the lady of Loose Cannon (one at least and genius marketing band…usb drive on a chain) and more, including those who came to the showcase in support and the ladies who played the event, pretty much every woman in blues artists who is named, got a necklace…. and a few more as some notes are missing! Out of 101, 5 returned home with me, 2 were replaced, meaning 93 necklaces were wandering around IBC and that was not even ALL the WiB’s I saw. I kept walking in clubs and seeing more on stages when I could not speak with them. The youngest female artists to get one, was 10. The most mature, was past retirement, and as a lady should never lie, I have not asked the lady her actual age!! My Momma would turn in her grave, if I was to ask! I honor my Momma…
IBC or Bust. Thank you again to our sponsors, Swift Eyes Innovations Inc, Patricia Shamroy Shaw, Crystal Visions Stained Glass & Terri Robbins, SweetWater Farm, Xanadu Music & Books in Memphis & John Lowe, Sunday Wilde, Sound Reflections, Mary4Music, Blues-E-News, Blues 411. And a huge shout out to the Blues Foundation for running events like the International Blues Challenge. None of us would have the opportunity to showcase so many artist to so many people, if not for this incredible event. Consider becoming a member. It will be worth every penny!
When you check the ***video… there is one lady I could not identify. I was not sure which night I got them on stage to cross reference in my notes. Help me. If you know who they are, I can still add their name via the youtube system! I know it has Annika Chambers, Laura Cheadle, Lady Bianca, Bridget Kelly Fik, Pat Pepin, Tracy K, Lucy Hammond, Teeny Tucker, Logan Layman, Freddye Stover, Veronika Jackson, Mandy Lemons & Verlinda Zeno, all from our showcase. I missed footage from Bearether Reddy, B.b. Queen, Liz Mandeville, Eleanor Tsiag, Redd Velvet, Patti Parks, Paula Harris and Terri Odabi…. during the showcase. Chuckee Zehr and Donna Dahl can be heard on some sets, but not seen. If ANYONE has even 30 seconds footage of those ladies… I would really love to get it posted and shared. Anyone? Also in this video, I know I have Cat Rhodes, Rae Gordon, Betty Fox, Lea Tussing, Leslie Barkman, Lady Bianca, Arley Hughes, Cara Hatfritz, Christine from Brat Pack, Amanda Rey, Brenda Meyer (2Blue, not to be confused with Two Blue), Maegan Aguilar, Monica Morris & Josie Lowder, Lauren Williams (The Blood Orange Martinis), Jackie Beaumont, Gail Selrkirk and Chuckee Zehr, Samantha ‘Sammi’ Chong, ….and the one who’s names I could not properly cross reference. If you know who that WiB is…let me know!
Ok, this after report was very long and pretty detailed. I tried to put you on the ground with me. Running from stem to stern and feeling like you got to come along. I hope you are not as exhausted at the end of this report, as most of us were when we left Memphis! It took me time after getting back home to realize… this was an amazing event and we nearly doubled our attendance this year!
Power to the women in blues… you and the supporters made this a reality!
CBW of the nWiB
PS…did I spell your name wrong? Tell me…I’ll edit it!