Vicksburg Blues Competition Sunday at Ameristar Casino

Published 6:00 am Friday, August 25, 2017

Some of the best blue artists from the state of Mississippi will be taking the stage Sunday at the Bottleneck Blues Bar at Ameristar Casino for the sixth annual Vicksburg Blues Competition.

Four bands and four solos or duos will be competing for two spots in the International Blues Competition in Memphis in January. The artists competing Sunday will have big shoes to fill as a winner of the Vicksburg competition has made the finals in Memphis each of the last five years, including winning the competition in 2014 and 2015.

“We have some very fine musicians,” Shirley Waring, the president of the Vicksburg Blues Society, said. “This is representative of the top blues acts that are vying for this. They are all hoping to help us bring home a third win for the Vicksburg Blues Society. It is all very exciting.”

The show will start at 2 p.m. with a performance by Greg Robinson Jr., who is competing in the solo/duo division. He will be followed by the Leaf River Blues, solo artist Bluesman McKinney Williams and Stevie J Blues and the Squad.

There will be an intermission from 4:30 to 5 p.m. and then the duo of Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry and Shy Perry will perform. The Perrys will be followed by the Stan Man band, solo artist Sam Joyner and the Mississippi Boogie Krewe. Each of the four bands will perform a 25-minute set and the solos and duo will each perform a 20-minute set.

“They are judged on showmanship, talent, musical ability, your appearance on stage and the content of your set,” Waring said. “To be able to enter this level of competition, the whole idea is are you a garage band, are you a party band, are you a bar band, are you a festival band or are you ready for the international stage. We are looking for top notch, entertaining blues bands that will represent Mississippi throughout the world.”

To be eligible to participate in the Vicksburg Blues Challenge, the artist had to have a connection to Mississippi or live within 250 miles of Vicksburg.

“This is very important with our tourism that surrounds the Mississippi Blues Trail,” Waring said. “We are perpetuating this pool of talent we have in Mississippi. We have tremendous talent. When we go to Memphis, they know that Vicksburg is going to bring the real deal and we like to tell them we are from the mothership of the blues.”

The competition is open to the public and free to attend, but Waring said they will be asking for donations and for people to become members of the Vicksburg Blues Society to continue to support the work of the group.

“We also invite venue owners to come out and preview,” Waring said. “This is their chance to see eight acts back-to-back in one day if they are interested in booking talent for restaurants, bars and festivals.”

The International Blues Competition will take place Jan. 16-20, 2018, in Memphis.