In the weekend of March 8th and 9th European Blues Challenge was hosted in Tolouse, France. 18 nations participated and the big winner of the weekend was the Italian trio ‘Veronica & The Red Wine Serenaders. The runners up were Romania and Spain which shared the second place.
During the first two years of its existence Berlin, Germany had played the host to the EBC, but this year the local blues union of Tolouse, France hosted the event, in technical co-operation with the board of EBU. Apart from the challenge, the weekend also included the yearly board meeting of the EBU General Assembly, a pan European market place and social gatherings.
Yngve & His Boogie Legs
Norway participated with last year’s ’Band of the Union’, ‘Yngve & His Boogie Legs’. The band presented themselves in their natural style with four self composed tracks during the 20 minutes each band was given to perform. The audience interacted well with the band and at the end of the bands short set, the crowd went wild during Yngve’s slap bass solo. Sadly, the judges felt differently and Norway didn’t even make the top 3.
The quality of the bands in this year’s challenge was very high, and several bands had the ability to win. Yours truly especially noticed the Dutch participants, ‘Sugar Boy & The Sinners’ – four young guys delivering fabulous West Coast blues! It’s just a matter of time before these guys will embark on a triumphant European tour.
The Rumanian acoustic trio ’Soul Serenade’ fronted by the beautiful voice of 19-year old singer Adekina, was also a revelation. ‘Chino & The Big Bet’ featuring guitar-player Chino Senra is another name to remember. Finland’s participants Honey B & The T-Bones displayed an original performance and a sound of their own. Lead singer and bass player Honey B fronts the band, and is accompanied by her husband, the well known radio host and blues-personality Esa Kuloniemi.
This year’s EBC showed a broad range of style, showcasing everything from acoustic blues, bluesrock, rock’n’roll, soul, r&b and even horn sections! Add this the fact that a lot of the musicians belonged to the younger age group plus an increased percentage of female participants, and there is a lot to be pleased about.
Veronica & The Red Wine Serenaders were seen as outsiders to the competition, and this probably gave some of the audience members at the Bikini venue in Tolouse a little surprise as the judges announced the Italian’s as winner of the competition. Musically the band can be found somewhere between country-blues and folk/ragtime/jugband/swing-music.
Judges for the competition included editor for the British magazine ’Classic Rock Blues’, Ed Mitchell, Lars-Olof Helén from Swedish ‘Sound Carrier’ and the German promoter Michaela Velden.
Saturday a blues market saw the light of day. More than 70 vendors from all over Europe participated and among them were festivals, record companies, blues unions, artists, media and more. Norway’s Notodden Blues Festival were also present, promoting the festival, their European Blues Center and their music club.
In April next year the blues family will gather in Riga, Latvia.
For more information about EBC 2013, check out the April issue of Bluesnews.
Words and photography: Rune Endal.