WHITE ROCK – White Rock Blues Society is giving all new meaning to the phrase "roots and blues" in its fifth annual WRBS Blues Challenge, taking place on Sunday (July 20) at Semiahmoo Park.
The family-friendly event will host 15 blues-rock acts, from solo songwriters to full-blown blues bands, all of which share common "roots" in British Columbia.
The acts – each having 25 minutes to play their set – will be reviewed by three judges, with the winning act to be sent to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next January.
"We’ve got three excellent people who are in a position to try to be as balanced as possible at identifying the best act of the day," said WRBS president Rodney Dranfield of the judging panel.
"Of course, this is not a science, it’s just a necessary evil to give us an excuse to get 25,000 people together in Memphis every year because we all know that … the only thing that differentiates greatness from the average is one’s own interpretation of it."
Much like the excuse to get 25,000 blues players together in Memphis each year, the WRBS Blues Challenge also acts as an excuse to get the local community together for a familyfriendly music festival outdoors this Sunday.
The society has held the event at a local bar over the past five years.
Dranfield wants to see the blues community grow, and he’s happy to put on the event each year in addition to the several shows he and the society organize.
"The blues is not a very well represented genre of music," he said. "It’s at the roots of all North American music and it led to all kinds of other different styles that you hear today, but you don’t see it on TV, you don’t see it in the movies and you don’t hear it on the radio. One of the reasons why there’s over 250 blues societies around the world
is because we’re trying to keep it alive."
White Rock Blues Society has promoted 90 shows since its inception seven years ago, Dranfield said, but the annual Blues Challenge seems to be its integral concert.
Performers at Sunday’s concert include bands Harpdog Brown, James "Buddy" Rogers, McKinley Wolf, Uncle Wigglys Blues Band, Sabrina Weeks & Swing Cat Bounce and Kathy Frank Band; solo/duo performers are Murray Porter, Jesse Roper, Steve Hinton, Dalannah Gail Bowen, James Thuarhoug.
As a favour to White Rock Blues Society, Chicago bluesman Jimmy D Lane will close the event at Semiahmoo Park, on Marine Drive in White Rock.
Gates open at 10:30 a.m. and the festival continues all day. There will be a barbecue hosted by "Memphis Mike" (for purchase) and all-day parking is $6. Tickets are $10 in advance (via Tickets.surrey.ca) and $15 at the gate.