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Representing 519 In Memphis

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The 519 Band will represent the Canada South Blues Society at the 32nd International Blues Competition in Memphis, TN, starting 26 January 2016.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Column header Ian ShalapataBy Ian Shalapata

(WINDSOR, ON) – The 32nd annual International Blues Challenge is taking this week in Memphis, TN, and is attracting blues musicians from around the world. In the thick of the week-long competition is Windsor’s own 519 Band, competing for a grand prize of $3,000 and studio recording time.

Up against 220 US-based acts and 43 from as unlikely places as Australia, The Netherlands, and Columbia, the 519 Band are representing the Canada South Blues Society and will join with 19 other Canadian groups or solo artists, as well as three from Detroit, in the land of the Delta Blues.

The 519 Band has a number of events scheduled outside of the competition including paying homage to Elvis at Graceland, and tracking down all the BBQ they can find. But, the band will also be making the rounds of the showcase, including radio interviews and checking out the competitors.

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The 519 Band is (l to r) Steve Johnson, drums, Rob Balint, bass guitar and backing vocals, Brian Jones, keyboards, Carl Helbich, synth horn, Kevin Blok, rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Dave Belch, saxophone, Jamie Thompson, lead vocals and lead guitar, and Doug Williamson, saxophone.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Tonight they get down to business in the opening round at Tin Roof on Beale Street. As part of a 4-act show, along with the Daniel Dworsky Trio (Israel), the White Knuckles Trio (Finland), and the Marcus Lovdal Band (Norway), the 519 Band will take the stage at 9:00pm in an effort to wow the judges. If successful, they will move on to the quarter finals on Thursday.

Listen to an interview with Jamie Thompson and Rob Balint at Good Time Charly a day before they left for Memphis.

The boys in the band would appreciate your support. Comment on the band’s Facebook page, or email them through their website.

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