VBS seeks another blues title

Published 7:48 pm Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Vicksburg Blues Society has routinely produced some of the best blues artists, not only in Mississippi, but in the world.

Wednesday evening, the VBS held a private rehearsal featuring their next blues act they hope will bring back the top prize in the International Blues Competition.

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Keith Johnson and the Big Muddy Band performed for a crowd at the Ameristar Bottleneck Blues Bar before the IBC Jan. 22-26 in Memphis.

Hosted by the Blues Foundation, IBC — considered the world’s largest blues competition — draws more than 850 musicians and thousands of fans. The event is in its 35th year.

According to Shirley Waring, president of the VBS, the only way to enter the IBC is to win a local competition sponsored by an affiliate.

VBS held their regional preliminary competition in September. Keith Johnson and the Big Muddy were selected from a field of four bands by a panel of judges made up of industry professionals.

Chris Gill and Stan Street were selected in the Solo/Duo Division. Both acts will advance to represent VBS in the IBC.

Johnson, “The Prince of the Delta Blues,” is a young man with the soul and sound of an old, authentic blues man, according to Waring.

Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, and the great nephew of blues icon Muddy Waters, Johnson bears a profound blues DNA.

“His song writing is mesmerizing, telling stories about life in Mississippi,” Waring said. “He performs with passion, energy, and stage presence that is exciting and natural. Gifted and talented, Keith is formally educated in the entertainment industry. Touring internationally, he often represents his alma mater, Delta State University, as an ambassador. A rising star, Keith is carrying on his family’s legacy.”

Placing in the IBC finals the last six years, and winning top honors twice (Mr. Sipp – 2014 and Eddie Cotton, Jr. – 2015), the Vicksburg Blues Society has consistently earned recognition, status and international media attention.

“Vicksburg is noted for taking exceptional blues acts to IBC,” Waring said. “The excitement and anticipation builds in Memphis as everyone looks forward to hearing blues from Mississippi — ‘Land of Blues.’ This year Keith Johnson and the Big Muddy will absolutely thrill the crowds ready for real-deal blues.”