|A couple of great organizations!|
|A true gem in South East Michigan|
|Sweet Willie Tea & his Didly-Bo|
First up were the Solo/Duo acts. Due to the mostly acoustic nature of the acts, it should be obvious that I have a rather soft spot in my heart for these artists. Things began with an amazing One-Man-Band artist "Sweet Willie Tea". Playing a variety of drum-kit parts (bass, snare, ride, crash) with his feet while singing and playing guitar/harmonica, Willie played in a variety of styles and included a variety of guitars including steel-bodied tri-cone resonator, wood-bodied dobro, a cigar-box guitar. Perhaps the highlight of the performance was his closing number on the didley-bo. Besides that classic slide sound, Willie was able to produce a variety of sound effects and even "voices" to accompany the song and the story that went with it. A fantastic guitar player, smooth vocalist and captivating entertainer, Sweet Willie Tea was definitely the complete package.
|Lauren Crane and her Koa Guitar|
|The Amazing Alicia Venchuk|
|Chris Canas and the Amazing Disappearing Guitar Strap|
|Detroit Blues-rockers Drugstore Cowboys|
|Sandy Muligan gettin' her groove on....|
|Real southern slide work from Elijah Craig|
Next up was party-blues band Big Smooth & the Hellraisers. I gave them very high marks right off the bat for realizing that they were in a competition, not another show. So many bands now days dress in jeans and tee-shirts that it's sometimes hard to tell the band from the crowd. Not so with this band and their quirky blend of aloha-chic and bowling-shirt couture wardrobe. Somehow, it works. Most of the bands started slow and built up during their sets. Not so with Big Smooth, who kicked it off by saying "We're Big Smooth and the Hellraisers, and THIS is what WE bring to the party" before launching into a full-speed, hard-driving blues number that reached out and punched the crowd right in the face. There was no doubt that these guys came to make a statement. Backing up their bravado was a deceptively great band.
|Big Smooth & the band raisin' some hell|
|The BBSB (coolest rhythm section of the night)|
In the end, it was six VERY different bands each offering something. On my scorecard I had Chris Canas barely in the vocal/instrumental category and Big Smooth owning the stage presence. Again, I don't know how the judges broke this toss-up, but they did choose the Chris Canas band to go to Memphis. They are a great band, and will represent Detroit well!
|Oh, the things you notice....|