The 20th annual River City Blues Competition kicked off Friday evening with five musical acts performing for a panel of judges and a room full of people tapping their toes to the beat of the music.
The event, being held at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, continues through Saturday evening. A total of 10 acts are slated to perform Saturday from 12:30 to 5:20 p.m., with finals scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.
"They'll choose four bands from those 10 and they'll pick two bands (from Friday night) and the six finalists play Saturday night," said Peg Bolen, treasurer and board member with The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society, Inc., which is sponsoring the event.
ASHLEY RITTENHOUSE The Marietta Times
Local band Silverhorse, consisting of Kevin Richards, of Vincent; Greg Vincent, of Rockport, W.Va.; Kenny Vigneron, of Marietta; and Grace Barber, of Little Hocking, performs during the 20th annual River City Blues Competition at the Lafayette Hotel Friday evening. The competition continues through Saturday.
The cost for the event is $15 for members and $20 for non-members.
The 15 bands participating in the competition hail from Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indianapolis, including three local acts- Appalachian Criminals from Vienna, W.Va. and Vinnie Mele and Silverhorse, both from Marietta.
Silverhorse kicked off the competition Friday night. The band consists of Kevin Richards, of Vincent; Greg Vincent, of Rockport, W.Va.; Kenny Vigneron, of Marietta; and Grace Barber, of Little Hocking.
If you go
What: 20th annual River City Blues Competition sponsored by The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society, Inc.
When: Noon to 6 p.m. and 8 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Lafayette Hotel, 101 Front St., Marietta.
Cost: Saturday afternoon - $15 member/$20 non-member; Saturday night - $15 member/$20 non-member.
For information: www.bjfm.org.
Saturday, second preliminary
12:30-12:50 p.m. Appalachian Criminals (5 piece band) Vienna, W.Va.
1-1:20 p.m. Wade and The Mojo Blues (4 piece band) Columbus, Ohio
1:30-1:50 p.m. Luther Trammell (Solo) Elyria, Ohio
2-2:20 p.m. Vinnie Mele (4 piece band) Marietta, Ohio
2:30-2:50 p.m. Mack Jump (Solo) Indianapolis, Ind.
3-3:20 p.m. The Tee Dee Young Band (5 piece band) Lexington, Ky.
3:30-3:50 p.m. Elm Street Blues Band (4 piece band) Willoughby, Ohio
4-4:20 p.m. Gary Applegate (Solo) Indianapolis, Ind.
4:30-4:50 p.m. Bourbon Dan and The Chasers (4 piece band) Columbus, Ohio
5-5:20 p.m. Magic Mama Band (8 piece band) Gallipolis, Ohio
Dinner Break from approximately 6 to 8 p.m.
Finals begin at 8 p.m.
Richards said they've been playing together since 2005, but Friday was their first time participating in the competition.
Still, it was not completely unfamiliar to him.
"In 1994 they had an open mic after the competition. That was first time I had played on stage in front of people," said Richards, 35, who writes the group's songs and plays guitar. "I haven't been back to the competition since or the blues festival. I started playing in a rock band and strayed away from the blues for years and wanted to get back into it recently."
The annual River City Blues Competition started out as part of the annual Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society festival, typically held in March.
"When the blues fest had more applications each year, we decided to make it a separate entity on its own and it worked," said John Gifford, board member and competition director.
Gifford added that there are many acts participating in this year's competition for the first time.
Although Silverhorse is new to the competition, Richards said he thinks his group can top their competition.
"I think we've got a good shot because we're different. We have an upright bass player...a lot of them anymore don't have upright bass, and having a female singer will give us an edge," he said.
A group that isn't new to the competition, Mojo Theory, also played Friday night. The band consists of David Warnock, Jeff Morris, Todd Mollette, C.J. Justus and Mark Richards, all of Columbus.
Warnock, the group's guitar player, described their music as a combination of blues, rock, funk and soul.
"When it comes to storytelling or trying to get across emotion, blues and country are the best way to do that," he said.
Rick Martin, of Akron, and Harry Stephens, of Parkersburg, said of all the acts that were slated to perform Friday, they were most looking forward to seeing Mojo Theory.
Still, they were excited to see all of the acts.
"It's all the blues and we love the blues. We go to festivals all around," said Martin. "If you want to hear music in the winter, this is a good place to go because it's inside."
Warnock said the group won the competition in 2008 and represented Marietta in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn. in January 2009.
The winner of this year's competition gets a chances to participate in the challenge, and also receives $1,200.