For any fans of great blues and awesome local guitarists, the upcoming 6 String Showdown at the New Blues Festival will be the place to be. There will be several regional and semi-final shows, leading up to the finals at the New Blues Festival in Long Beach’s El Dorado Park on Sunday, September 2, 2018.
As David Hale, Executive Producer said, “There lots of battles of the bands, there are lots of people who try to shred millions of notes in a second, but this is a true head-to-head blues guitar competition. We don’t call it a competition, we call it a 6 String Showdown because it is a guitar celebration. The judging is based on skill, not speed. The criteria are tasty licks played with feeling, using personal expression, dramatics, reflection……Bernie Pearl and I were talking about this. When I asked Pearl, we approached some of the most prominent blues guitar players in the L.A. area and everybody said yes. With Bernie, we were talking, because Bernie was not up for judging a blues competition, but we talked that it was really about solos that tell stories.”
Rick Snyder, a long-time blues aficionado, past President of the Orange County Blues Society and current OCBS Social Media Director, as well as Media Director for the 6 String Showdown, talked to the Los Angeles Beat about the upcoming events.
Q: So Rick, the 6 String Showdown is more than just a competition?
A: The 6 String Showdown is a celebration of America’s indigenous art form the Blues and specifically those who play the Blues on their guitars. It is our hope this event will provide ALL MUSICIANS the opportunity to trade licks with blues guitarists they might not otherwise encounter and in the process share the camaraderie of the blues and work toward building and preserving our blues community.
Q: You’ve got some great guitarists as regional judges…
A: One of our primary goals was to make the event as impartial as we possibly could. In order to do that we knew we had to bring in judges with a personal knowledge of and personal experience with the genre known as the Blues. We reached out to local and nationally touring Blues guitarists, Blues Society representatives, Blues record label execs and were fortunate enough to get the support and participation of Diana Rein, Joey Delgado, Betty Rose, Kenny “Big Daddy” Williams, Johnny Main, KK Martin, Bernie Pearl, Lightnin’ Willie, Artur Menezes, Papa J, Bob, Barr, Ricky Z, Kay Kay Jagger, Steve Artea, Mark Sells, Oklahoma Ollie, Anthony “Fingers” Naranjo, Ray Goren and Gregg Wright. To know these folks is to know the Blues!
Q: The finals day for the 6 String Showdown will have more than just blues fans. Are you giving the finalists a chance to perform before Industry movers and shakers?
A: We wanted to really encourage the perpetuation of the Blues. To do so we thought that providing the participants with an opportunity to get feedback and advice from those in the “Business of Music” would be profoundly beneficial. To that end we have invited Blues Radio personalities Ann The Raven from KCSN 88.5 FM, Dave Toole from KOCI 101.5 FM and Kenny “Big Daddy” Williams from KX 93.5 FM. Rip Cat Records President and founder Scott Abeyta and A&R rep Kay Kay Jagger will be there to listen, advise and maybe sign a new artist. Promoters and talent buyers will also be present; Bill Grisolia, Executive Producer of the New Blues Festival, Jack Jasper, owner of Campus Jax, Bobby Bluehouse, owner of the Arcadia Blues Club and more to be announced. Band managers, publicity agents, booking agents and even music lawyers will be there to advise and add to the shaking and movement!
Q: Why did you decide to create the 6 String Showdown?
A: Stoney Gurrola, our Music Director and all around great guy came up with the idea after being frustrated with similar yet different events that he had taken part of in the past. David Hale, our Executive Producer and myself (Rick Snyder, Media Director) and Bob Barr, President of the Long Beach Blues Society partnered with Stoney to create an event that was a celebration of the Blues and Blues guitar players more than a crassly commercial enterprise. Folks, if you’re in this for the money, I have one word for you, plastics. But seriously, the feedback we have gotten from everyone involved and those who want to come and see the goings-on have been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. We love the Blues and firmly believe that in order to “Keep the Blues Alive” it has to be fun, exciting and interesting enough for the new breed of young guns to pursue the genre known as “The Blues.” And isn’t fun the best thing there is to have?
Q: You’ve got some great new guitarists as well as some excellent OC players in the 6 String Showdown?
A: Thanks for letting me go on about this. I can’t say enough kind words about all the guitar players who have chosen to take part in this event. They range in age from 17 to 65 and all points in between. They come from as far away as Sacramento and as near as Newport Beach and Arcadia. Guys, there are a couple of girls in the mix who are to be reckoned with! Girls, we know you’re gonna bring it so guys you’d best follow the advice on one of our judges who says this “is a chance to prove that all that practice does pay off!”
Q: Thanks, Rick!
“The 6 String Showdown” begins on Saturday, July 21, 2018, with the Orange County Regionals, to be held at Campus Jax in Newport Beach. On Saturday, August 4, 2018, the San Gabriel Valley regionals will be held at the Arcadia Blues Club. From these two events, four semi-finalists will be chosen and invited to the Golden Groove Stage at the New Blues Festival on Saturday, Sept 1, 2018. The following day, Sunday, September 2, 2018, the two remaining finalists will meet to perform on the Main Stage at the New Blues Festival.
David Hale explained, “Each entrant will be provided with personalized PR for the length of the competition, including print, air and a personalized page on the 6 String Showdown site. All competitors will also receive professional cover shots by professional blues photographer Rebecca Bogdanoff and performance videos by acclaimed videographer Casey Reagan. One winner will walk away with over $5,000 in cash and prizes, including a guaranteed paid spot on the Main Stage of the 2019 New Blues Festival.”
Audiences are invited to all events, especially as audience reaction is a major part of the judging criteria for all performers. As David Hale said, “We’re looking for people to come and cheer—40 percent of the judging is based on audience response, 30 percent is based upon skill and technique, and 30 percent is based upon showmanship.”
Tickets to attend the events to hear these awesome guitarists are available through Campus Jax, Arcadia Blues Club, and the New Blues Festival.
Distinguished award-winning guitarist judges include Artur Menezes, winner of the 2018 Albert King Blues Guitarist Award at the International Blues Challenge; and Joey Delgado, the winner of the 2016 Albert King Blues Guitarist Award at the International Blues Challenge as well as the 2016 Best Band at the Challenge with his group the Delgado Brothers.
There are still a few open spots for guitarists in the competition and any interested blues players are welcome to apply. The Bobby Bluehouse Band will be the house band for the shows and provide backing for each guitarist. Information can be obtained through the 6 String Showdown’s web page. 6 String Showdown has partnered with The Sweet Relief Musicians Cancer Fund and will be donating a portion of the registration fees making this truly an event by musicians for musicians.
“The 6 String Showdown” promises to shine a spotlight on some very talented blues guitarists. For the guitarists, it is a chance to be seen and heard by a great audience and the right Industry people. For the audience, it is a chance to hear some great blues players and maybe in the future to remember that “I saw them when they were just starting to make it big!”.
The 6 String Showdown
Saturday, July 21, 2018, 3 – 11 p.m.
3950 Campus Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
The Arcadia Blues Club
Saturday, August 4, 2018, 6 p.m – 12 a.m.
16 E. Huntington Drive
Arcadia, CA 91006
Phone (626) 447-9349
Semi-Finals and Finals
New Blues Festival
El Dorado Park
7550 E. Spring Street
Long Beach, CA 90815
Golden Groove Stage
September 1, 2018, Time TBA
September 2, 2018 3 p.m.
Photo of Joey Delgado’s hands and guitar by Ed Simon for the Los Angeles Beat. Photos of Stony Gurrola and Kimberley Allison courtesy of Doug Deutsch PR.