Nominations for the 2012 Memphis Challenge are in. A star studded field will line up this year. The 12 entries read like a “who’s who” of the south-east Queensland blues roster, as well as a couple of names that would be familiar to national festival goers.
The contenders will take the stage on Saturday 1 September from noon at the Mansfield Tavern to play their hearts out for a prize that no amount of money, fame or influence can buy – BASEQ’s nomination as their representative at the 29th International Blues Challenge to be held in the Memphis, Tennessee from 29 January to 2 February, 2013. Beale Street in Memphis is holy ground to any blues fan. BASEQ will also contribute a substantial cash sum to the costs of the winning artists travelling there and back.
The IBC is convened by The Blues Foundation, a Memphis based non-profit corporation which works for the furtherance and preservation of Blues music. Other aspects of their operations include a Blues In Schools program and the HART Fund (Handy Artists Relief Trust) which provides financial assistance for blues musicians and their families afflicted by health problems.
THE CONTENDER”S ARE …..
Mama Told Me
Personifying soul, passion and charisma, Dee Lavell might be a new name on the Australian soul and blues scene,, but she’s definitely not the new kid on the block. A seasoned performer with more than 25 years experience on stage and in the studio in Australia and the US, Dee has just released her album ‘Mama Told Me’ to widespread critical acclaim.
Recently returning to Australia after 8 years living and working in Los Angeles, Dee has wasted no time making her mark on the Australian scene. Dee has sung in support gigs for big names including Renee Geyer and Cotton Keays & Morris, reunited regularly with members of her former bands “The Honeybees”, “Mother Jive” and performed her own gigs around Northern NSW, where she is currently based.
The songs that Dee is writing now are coming from her heart, experiences in, joy, pain and other life challenges.
Check out Dee’s website and music at
Mike Frost and The Icemen.
Logan City based singer/guitarist Mike Frost and his cool band of Icemen have been regular performers at many blues festivals throughout Australia and New Zealand for a number of years now. Staking out a musical claim that stretches through the middle of the 20th century, the band mines a rich seam from the golden age of American blues. Following the trail of pioneers with colourful names like Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and Hound Dog Taylor, Mike Frost and The Icemen have refined the original Blues of Memphis, Chicago, Houston and L.A.
The result is a dynamic blend of new and old. Original tunes and old favourites, played and sung with respect for the past, but with the drive and enthusiasm needed to entertain a contemporary audience. As well as playing many of SE Qld’s major blues festivals, Mike Frost and The Icemen have found a dedicated audience in New Zealand, with two extensive regional tours followed by three consecutive appearances at the annual Queenstown Jazzfest.
Mojo Bluesmen are the real deal !
They live in their van and tour the country delivering their raw style of dirty powerhouse blues wherever they can find an audience. You will find them anywhere from a street corner busking – to the stages of some of Australia’s leading music festivals. As recently as last week they could be seen on the stages of Splendour in the Grass, as well as appearing 2 years in a row at the East Coast Blues & Roots Festival.
As two of the country’s most brilliant blues musicians, Kiam Adcock (impromptu vocals and harmonica) and Tim Everett (slide guitar, stomp box and fuel can) joined forces back in January 2007. Tim, who was travelling around Australia, stopped into Port Macquarie where Kiam was busking with his harmonica. Tim threw Kiam $20, told him he played a bit of blues guitar and asked if wanted to jump in for the ride … and so, MOJO BLUESMEN were born.
Since forming, MB have clocked up over 1500 busking gigs and sold in excess of 10,000 CD’s. The duo has gigged for rival outlaw bikie gangs in remote mining camps, and was even resident band at a strip club. In late 2011, Mojo Bluesmen undertook a busking odyssey of North and South America. Bet your bottom dollar they will be giving everything they’ve got to get back there !
Mojo Bluesmen triple j “Unearthed” Playlist.
At the tender age of 20, guitarist-singer Brodie Graham is certainly the youngest performer, but you will soon see that counts for little. Brodie affiliates his utmost passion through blues music and his lack of age is certainly made up for in raw determination and ability.
Having pushed himself to connect to music well before his age bracket and persisting on finding balance between feeling and technicality. These are decisive factors that shape his style. Exciting, expressive and enticing best describes his performances which are filled with traditional blues, funk and soul but brought into a modern context.
Having recently taken out the Royal Mail Hotel’s Anaconda Fest against some sterling opposition, Brodie certainly has form.
Check out Brodie’s website and music at
The artists formerly known as Blind Lemon will be making their first appearance under their new moniker. New name, but same blisteringperformers. Their appearance at last year’s Memphis Challenge alsomarked a major turning point for the band as it was one of Toby’sfirst public appearances as a fully-fledged member of the band.
Nothing like getting thrown in at the deep end!! The lineup of Jamie, Harvey, Toby and Grant have now been well settled for over a year, and in that time has shown a rebirth and return to much Bluesier Roots. Rapidly morphing them into one of Australia’s top Blues acts.
No strangers to blues fans throughout most of Australia, and certainly one of the red hot favourites to be heading stateside next January. Their new website can be seen at ;
Mojo Webb (solo)
The frontman for 2011 Memphis Challenge winners, The Mojo Webb Band is back. And this time, it’s personal ! Mojo Webb first picked up a guitar at the age of eight. At the age of fourteen, he discovered the sounds of blues and since then, his lifehas been devoted to playing, studying, and living the blues.
He has matured into a world-class blues performer whose instrumental and vocal prowess, authentic approach and unique stage presence have garnered him multiple awards and legions of fans. Mojo is the possessor of an amazing singing talent, and world class Multi-Instrumentalist. His live solo performances are top shelf Blues experiences, as real and powerful as can be found anywhere.
Mojo controls his stage – imploring, preaching, boasting, and crying the Blues. Over a hundred years of Blues music is channeled through Mojo. His life experiences help him to create music whose honesty and beauty comes from deep within.
Check out Mojo Webb’s Web Page ! (Did you see that ? Webb, Web … lol)
The Andrew Baxter Band
Passionate and powerful are adjectives commonly used to describe Blues performers. Uptempo, positive and funky are not. However, all these words can be applied to Gold Coast based blues sensation Andrew Baxter.
Drawing from a wide range of influences, Andrew’s performances are very much audience oriented. Whether in solo mode, duo, trio, or with his 12 piece “Blues Extravaganza” show, Andrew’s performances are always aimed at ensuring the audience is entertained and goes home with a smile on their face and a song on their lips.
For the last 2 years Andrew has been passionately committed to promoting shows with other independent musicians. This has led to collaborations with many others in the music community to bring new and different performers together to see what magic can be created.
Mick Diggles has toured the Eastern States of Australia for decades, playing city or country, venues large and small.
Mick has been very well received at jam sessions in the UK and USA including London’s original blues bar, “Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues” and “Buddy Guy’s Legends” in Chicago.
Mick’s 2011 album It’s My Own Blues, containing 13 original works (half recorded in Chicago and half in Australia) is already being well received by listeners and radio presenters alike.
Mick on facebook ;
Having just finished recording their first studio album they are fast gaining a following throughout Brisbane as the ‘new Rock/Blues’ party band to see. Coming from both sides of the world, MooMooPappa has a lifetime of music experience.
Andy has been gigging in bands for 15 years playing guitar upand down the UK before moving to Australia. Darren has been a highly respected bass player in Sydney before moving to the Gold Coast, and Ben has been touring and playing drums with major touring bands throughout Australia for 20 years.
Jamie Mack has toured the UK with various high profile bands before moving to Australia and touring with big name bands like the Choirboys. Peter came to music later in life and has quickly gained a reputation as a no-nonsense rock solid rhythm guitarist.
Check them out on their Reverbnation Page ;
Connor Cleary is a guitar slinging, Blues singing, band swinging mofo with the skills to pay the bills. Connor combines the styles of Blues, Jazz and Rock into a tasty meal which sticks to your ribs.
From humble beginnings in a small NSW town, Connor went on to study music with Jim Kelly and jam with Delta Goodrem. Connor’s musical roots run deep, his great Grandmother started Australia’s first all-female jazz orchestra. Growing up he absorbed all the music he could beg, borrow or steal including Irish and Australian Folk music.
Connor has always had a great passion for the Blues. He is now looking to expanding his audience and promote his new E.P Frank. He is currently touring with “The Songs of Haight Ashbury Stage Show”.
RF’s headwaters are found in the unconventional and uncompromising blues styling of local legend Blind Dog Donnie. James (Vocals/guitar) and Alex (drums) spent 4 years backing the Don, submerged in the school of making simple music swing, before taking the plunge into open waters forming RF.
RF firmly believe that blues is not a stagnant pond but a turbulent whirlpool constantly being polluted by new musical elements. Thelast 6 months have seen RF riding the rapids with their new EP in tow, playing weekly gigs at Brisbane’s home of the Blues, TheBoundary Hotel. This enables them to explore the brackish mix of influences that captivate their audience.
RumbleFish facebook Band Page ;
Tim Griffin has been performing for over 20 years. After completing a Performing Arts course in New Zealand, Tim toured extensively around both islands with great success. After moving to Townsville he quickly established a name for himself as a popular local artist.
Tim has received significant press coverage in the local print media, and local Radio stations have picked up his newest release for broadcast. This exposure has helped cement Tim’s reputation as one of North Queensland’s foremost entertainers.
Moving to Brisbane in 2012, Tim has now recorded his debut album through Black Market Music. It is called “Castle Hill Blues” it features Mark Greig from Aussie Crawl on lead guitar, and was mixed and engineered by Mike Letho.
Go get his Album now from Tim’s Store !!!!
Australian Music and Entertainment Scene would like to thank the Blues Association of South East Queensland (BASEQ) for the information from their Monthly Newsletter “The Groove” used in this article.