I've Got A Mind To Ramble
By Keith S. Clements

KBS Blues Contest

Two of the Kentuckiana Blues Society's popular annual events will be combined into one extravaganza this year. The Unsigned Contest and the Birthday Bash will merge together Sunday, November 13, at Stevie Ray's. The rules for the contest have changed, so now the competition will be called the Kentuckiana Blues Talent Search. This is due to The Blues Foundation broadening the eligibility rules of the International Blues Competition (IBC) so any individual or band with a major recording contract can enter. The only restriction now is that any performer who has received a W.C. Handy Award nomination cannot compete. If you are touring the country promoting a record that has national distribution or if you have just sat in at the local blues jams, you are competing under the same conditions. What the IBC committee has done is to divide the blues world into two categories, all the past Handy nominees and all the other performers.

Their rational is based on how the competition has changed over the years. Originally, it provided an opportunity for young groups just starting out to get exposure, gigs and kick-start their careers, but the quality of the competing acts has improved and more people want to participate. The Blues Foundation now wants their competition to select from all acts that have both the musical talent and business skills to move up to the national level. Another reason for the rule change was the problem of how to define `having a national recording contract?' With so many record labels, distributors and nearly every performer having released some kind of CD, that old criteria became very gray. Last February, Joey Gilmore was originally announced as the First Place winner in the IBC, but the band was later disqualified because of violating the rule that has now been dropped.

The method of judges scoring has changed slightly with the category of overall impression being eliminated and the weighting multiplier of blues content increased from 3 to 4 and originality reduced from 3 to 2. The weightings of the other categories of talent and stage presence remain the same at 3 and 2 respectively. So what do all these changes mean for the KBS Talent Search? The doors have opened a little wider for any blues solo act or band in Kentucky or Southern Indiana to enter. The deadline for the entries will be October 3 so there can be preliminary compliance reviews of the entries and the event can be publicized in advance with posters and flyers. The rewards for the winner will be $500, recording time at Jeff Carpenter's Studio and a chance to represent the KBS in the Blues Foundation IBC next February. Go to www.kbsblues.org for more details about requirements for entering. In addition to the competition, the KBS will hold its annual meeting and food will be served to celebrate our 17th birthday.

It's Been A Long Day Brother

Photo of Foree Wells at the 1994 Garvin Gate Blues Festival
Photo By Photo by Keith Clements
Foree Wells at the 1994 Garvin Gate Blues Festival
Foree Wells had a dream about recording his music with his band, The Walnut Street Blues Band, that included three of his sons, Michael, Greg and Foree III. When all the studio work was done in 1994, he approached both Bruce Iglauer at Alligator Records and Jim O'Neal at Rooster about packaging and distributing the record. Foree decided to go with Jim, who came to Louisville to photograph and interview Foree for the liner notes. Sadly, Foree passed away suddenly in January 1997 and then the agonizing waiting began. During 1999 O'Neal sold his recording rights to Bottled Majic and the plot thickened, because the KBS couldn't get firm commitments from anyone. In 2000, a Rooster Blues 20th Anniversary Sampler was issued, which included Foree's "Walkin' and Cryin' the Blues." The liner notes stated that "the album's delayed release will now serve as a posthumous tribute." Rooster's promotional flyers gave it a release number (CD R2631),advertising "the late Foree Wells' beautiful Kentucky blues record, It's a New Day Brother, will be coming out this fall (2000)." As years passed, we gradually became reconciled that this venture would be a lost cause like so many sad stories in the blues. Then out of the blue, Jim O'Neal contacted the KBS this February, saying he has acquired the rights to release several of the recordings from the Rooster catalogue, including Foree's CD. We were all skeptical, but after our concerns and questions were resolved, a deal was made with Jim where several sponsors were solicited, including the KBS, to finance the CD. O'Neal has created a new record label called Stackhouse Recording Company (SRC) that will operate out of Clarksdale, Mississippi at the old Stackhouse Delta Record Mart location on 232A Sunflower Ave. He has promised to have the CD ready for release in six months. With the clock ticking, this should be sometime in late November. A CD release party is anticipated with Jim O'Neal attending and the Walnut St. Blues Band performing.

According to an interview of Foree by Mark Clark that ran in the January, 1995, issue of Louisville Music News, Foree felt good about the recording sessions and hoped it would be the first step in the band's success. Unfortunately, we would have to wait ten years. All of the twelve songs are originals with a high-energy, rocking tempo. It's the guitar interplay between Foree and Michael where the father leads with his Memphis, B.B. King riffs and the son follows with his Hendrix-influenced licks that make their contrasting but complimentary musical styles so interesting. Two of the tracks, "Hey Little Bluebird" and "Midnight is Falling," were done extemporaneously in the studio sharing their musical ESP, with the lyrics added later. "It's A New Day Brother" will be a legacy for his sons to carry on.

Photo of Micahel & Foree Wells at the 1996 Garvin Gate Blues Festival
Photo By Photo by Keith Clements
Micahel & Foree Wells at the 1996 Garvin Gate Blues Festival

Sam the Man

Photo of Sam Myers at the 1997 King Biscuit Festival
Photo By Photo by Keith Clements
Sam Myers at the 1997 King Biscuit Festival
Lamont Gillispie recently called to say Sam Myers has been diagnosed with throat cancer and his ability to sing the blues is coming to an end, but not his harp playing. We hope Sam will continue to be able to perform with Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets. Sam has recently returned from touring in Europe promoting his recent solo CD, Coming From The Old School. Lamont is planning a benefit at Stevie Rays to help Sam on Sunday, June 26, starting at 5 p.m. with a modest $5 cover. Several bands will be performing including Sue O'Neil and Blue Seville, The Saints, El Roostars, Mark Bright & the All-Star Horns, Tim Krekel, River City Blues Ban, Greg Martin's jam band, Rufus Huff and Lamont Gillispie's 100 Proof Blues Band. Once the word gets around, I'm sure other musicians will show up. Lamont will try to have Sam tape a message from his home in Texas. Mark Cook, co-owner of the old Blue Bird Blues Club, will donate the large painting of Sam done by Jim Masterson for auction. I have taken many pictures of Sam going back to the early `90s, when he and Anson performed for a whole week during the Kentucky State Fair. These blown-up color photos and others will be for sale to help the cause. Several years ago, Lamont did a similar benefit for Lefty Dizz when he was struggling with cancer and raised over $2000. By the time you read this, the benefit will be history, but it's not too late to make a donation to a true blues legend when the blues chips are down. Contact Lamont at 299-6607 if you want to give Sam a hand.