The music heated up as Bourbon Dan and the Chasers took the stage during Friday night's kickoff of the 19th annual River City Ohio Blues Competition at Marietta's Lafayette Hotel.
"Blues music has many variables - but I like the swinging, jump-start blues," band leader "Bourbon" Dan Axt said following the Columbus band's 20-minute set.
Axt and his band were among 18 blues acts scheduled to compete Friday and Saturday for a chance to win up to $1,200 and sponsorship by the local Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society to the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
2011 blues competition
Looking over the packed hotel ballroom, Peggy Bolen, treasurer for the local Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society, said the crowds get better every year.
"We've been selling a lot more weekend passes than usual tonight," she said, noting that the crowd numbered around 300 at 9 p.m.
"But there will be even more Saturday - we'll have to bring in extra chairs," Bolen added. "I think more people know about this event every year, and many come back and bring their friends."
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
The Shane Gang blues band from St. Clairsville kept the crowd rockin’ during Friday night’s kickoff to the 19th annual River City Ohio Blues Competition at the Lafayette Hotel in downtown Marietta.
More photos on cu.mariettatimes.com.
That wasn't the story, however, for Janet George and Bob Martin, who were visiting from Chagrin Falls.
"We were riding through town on our motorcycle last year and saw this hotel," Martin explained. "So we decided to come back this year and spend a quiet weekend here in Marietta."
The couple considered the blues competition a pleasant surprise that wouldn't dissuade them from spending their weekend at the Lafayette.
Schedule of events
The weekend's 19th annual River City Ohio Blues Competition continues with the second preliminary round from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by the competition finals from 8 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta.
Tickets, available at the door, are $10 for Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society members and $15 for non-members for the Saturday afternoon preliminary round, and $15 for members and $20 for non-members who attend Saturday night's final round and winning acts.
For more information: www.bjfm.org
Three of the hotel's rooms remained open as of 9 p.m. Friday, and the front desk clerk said only one room was available for Saturday.
Out in the hallway hung a large patchwork-style quilt. Each patch was a photograph of a blues group or solo performer, taken by photographer Dusty Blues. The society is raffling off the quilt, and tickets will be available through next month's Blues Festival, also held at the Lafayette on March 18 and 19.
Proceeds from the raffle go the local Blues in the Schools project, according to Maren Beery, who sewed the quilt with some help from Bolen and others.
The quilt raffle garnered $1,300 for Blues in the Schools last year.