Fans of the blues gathered at the Lafayette Hotel Saturday for the finals of the 20th annual River City Ohio Blues Competition.
Mary Anne Osborne, of The Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society Inc., said this year's competition featured 12 bands and three solo performers.
Osborne said six bands were to perform in the finals, two from Friday night's performances and four from Saturday afternoon.
JEFFREY SAULTON Special to The Times
The Tee Dee Young Band, from Lexington, Ky., was the winner of the 20th annual River City Ohio Blues Competition this weekend at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta.
This year she said attendees were given a score sheet to allow them to judge the bands according to International Blues Challenge criteria used by the judges.
"We included a sheet to allow the audience to score the bands for fun," she said. "They will use the same criteria as the judges - blues content, instrumental talent, vocal talent, originality and stage presence - use, but it is just for fun."
Osborne said the attendance at the competition was better than expected.
2 qualify for Memphis competition
Two acts competing in this weekend 20th annual River City Ohio Blues Competition qualified to compete early next year in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
A total of 15 bands and solo artists performed Friday and Saturday at the Lafayette Hotel in downtown Marietta, seeking to win sponsorship from the Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society of Marietta for the national competition, said BJFM president John Bolen.
The Tee Dee Young Band, from Lexington, Ky., won first place Saturday night and a cash prize of $1,200. The second place finisher was past winner Mojo Theory from Columbus, winning $600. The third place prize of $300 went to solo artist Gary Applegate of Indianapolis.
Bolen said The Tee Dee Young Band will be the society's representative in the IBC early next year. Since solo or duo acts which finish high enough can also advance to the national competition, Bolen said Applegate will also be going to the IBC.
"We have sold out of tickets," she said. "Friday was full but the tickets for Saturday afternoon sold out."
John Gifford, competition director, said he has watched the competition grow from a three-hour event to the two-day event it is today.
"I got involved with this about eight years ago," he said. "Prior to becoming director I was a board member. I've been a board member since 1996."
Gifford said the competition has been growing yearly.
"Over the years this has grown from a three-hour venue during the blues festival in March with about six bands," he said. "The applications and requests to get in the competition grow and grow."
At that point he said it was decided the competition needed to be a separate event.
"Our first one was just for one day but we were still getting so many applications to get in we had to make it a two-day event," Gifford said.
Performers at the competition are described as the "next professionals."
"They need to be as professional as possible," he said. "When we send them down to the IBC (International Blues Challenge) in Memphis they are going up against the best in the world. So, we look for the best possible representation of blues and professionalism in our competition."
Gifford said the local competition is allowed to send one entry to the challenge, but the rules allow them to send more than contestant at times.
"We are allowed to send one band to represent our society," he said. "We may be allowed to send a solo or duo act if that act places in our top three."
Gifford said the competition usually has three to four solo or duos. This year there were three solo performers. He said at the IBC the solos and duos are on a separate day because they will have up to 25 acts.