The SCV Blues Society held a “Battle of the Bands” competition in which musicians competed to win $2,500 and represent the Santa Clarita Valley at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee early next year.
The Bootleggers will represent the SCV Blues Society at the competition early next year.
Four bands performed at the American Legion post in Newhall and competed in front of a live audience to win a monetary prize and represent the SCV at the International Blues Challenge, “The world’s largest gathering of blues musicians,” states the official website.
Toni Dodd, a veteran musician, opened the show with her band Toni Dodd and the Southbound Blues. Dodd described her deep appreciation for blues music: “It comes from your heart, and you feel it in your soul. It’s not just crying in your beer can kind of music. It’s uplifting.”
Dodd added that she has competed every year for the chance to return to the biggest stage for blues music lovers. Her first time at the IBC was over a decade ago. She said she looked forward to experiencing the bands’ camaraderie and witnessing new artists and bands put themselves out there and make a name for themselves.
All four acts had their own unique presence, allowing the audience and judges to enjoy a variety of the genre. The music ranged from upbeat to mellow. The four bands competing were: Toni Dodd and the Southbound Blues, Serge the Power & Charlie D, The Bootleggers, and the Bill Grisolia Band.
“I enjoy performing for a variety of reasons. It lets me explore my creative muse. One of the things that we’re being evaluated on today is originality and so we will be presenting some of our original material,” said Bill Grisolia. “The Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society cannot be overstated because … in the year in which we competed (previously) the person that won and went to Memphis … has (become) a very important artist nationally and did very well in Memphis for the society. It reflected Santa Clarita.”
Grisolia closed the show with his band The Bill Grisolia Band and was the runner-up after The Bootleggers were declared the winners.
“We’re helping to provide a platform for the continuation of honoring the past and the evolution of the art form as well. This is an important part of the American experience. Blues helped launch a number of other musical art forms and so it continues to be an important part of our United States of America fabric,” said Grisolia.
He also added that he has never had the opportunity to compete at IBC, but if his band won, “It would be an honor.”
Chuck Strong, the previous vice president of the SCV Blues Society and now treasurer, has experienced performing and competing at the IBC in 2015 and 2016. “I know how incredible it is. I’ve gone back over the years just to support our band that we (Santa Clarita) have (compete) and it’s just a great week. A couple hundred bands from all over the world do this.”
The SCV Blues Society is one of hundreds of blues societies throughout the country. They’re part of the umbrella organization, The Blues Foundation. The Blues Foundation hosts the IBC and the Blues Music Awards every year along with other events that focus on the appreciation of blues music.
The IBC is a four-day event that will take place from Jan. 16 to 20 on Beale Street in Memphis, a historical location for blues music.
For more information, visit blues.org/international-blues-challenge.