The last time I was ever in any kind of musical competition was when I was 14 or 15 and playing with my first band, the Regents. We were a raggedy ass high school band with pathetic equipment (two of us had Regent guitars, thus the name). We entered a battle of the bands in a neighbouring town (Magog) and when we got there I was quite flabbergasted to see a band (mostly brothers) who had brand new Fender guitars and amps. It was impressive and I think they won the contest. All I know is we didn't win and the fact that I remember this so well, and practically nothing else of those days, must mean that it made a big impression on me.
Now fast-forward 50 years and today I find myself playing with Larry Kurtz at the "Road to Memphis" challenge in Kitchener and once again, shut out.
I have always steered away from contests and award programmes, though I've been a judge in the Blues Talent Search, the Aboriginal Music Awards, The Song From The Heart contest, a couple of JUNOs and more than ten years judging the TTC Subway Musician Auditions.
I did receive one award for my music – A Porcupine Award – and I was pleased as punch to get it. Then there was the award I got for "Best Industrial Ad" for a Firestone ad back when I was a junior copywriter at an ad agency. Anyway, if I never get another one it's fine with me. And it will be another 50 years before I enter another competition. I just can't take the rejection L
On the way home from my big loss, I stopped by the Casino to appease my best-ex, Linda, who was good enough to come along and support me at the . She got a head start into the slots and I just sat down at the first machine I saw, put in 10 bucks, pushed a button and watched it turn into $247 (apparently if I'd pushed the "max" button it would have been much more). I guess I'm just not a gambler at heart because I cashed out my $247 and didn't play anymore and spent the rest of the time keeping Linda from spending it. I was thinking as long as we make enough to pay the gas and food, I will have at least not "paid to play", or should I say "paid to lose"…
Congratulations to the winning band was The Smoke Wagon Blues Band, from Hamilton (here's a little clip took) and the solo winner was Jay Pollman. Corey Lueck and Smoke Wagon have been plugging away on the blues scene as long as I've been observing it and they deserve the recognition. Both winners had more traditional approaches than Larry and I, so I think that's a reflection of the judges' taste. I wish them well in Memphis – where it must be very hard to stand out from a large pack who are playing at the highest level.
I don't mind wearing this defeat (blame Blain) because I had just seen the Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer and convinced Larry to play as loud and as hard as he could and we both cranked our amps and I think the judges would have been more inclined to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. Oh well…