Felix Slim and the Pamela Betti Band were the top scorers Sunday at Katie’s of Smithtown in a fierce competition to represent Long Island in the 2020 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.
The all-day show hosted by the Long Island Blues Society also featured Long Island’s youth showcase representative, Ben Goldsmith and the Original Band.
The three bands will be performing on the world-famous Beale Street in Memphis in January along with winning acts from across the globe.
“All of the great bands we had here today show that blues music is alive and well on Long Island,” said Ray Hauck, president of the Long Island Blues Society. “We are looking forward to seeing our blues challengers put up a strong showing when they get to Memphis.”
The youth group opened the day with a rocking set and the challenge was on.
The bands and solo/duo acts that followed kept the joint rocking through the day and made it tough for the judges to pick a winner.
The four bands, -- The Hitman Blues Band, Blue Roots, Red Eye Blues Band and the Pamela Betti Band – kept the audience engaged with a mix of original songs and cover versions of different blues songs.
The solo/duo performers – Sarah Lewis, the Bee Brothers and Felix Slim – wowed the crowd and judges with their takes on the blues.
“Thank you to everyone who came out today to the Challenge to Memphis at Katies,” said Pamela Betti. “We won and we are so grateful and blessed. “Thank you to my guys in the band, they you killed it today and I love them.”
She went on to thank the LIBS and the judges and noted that “all the bands were outstanding.”
The Betti band won it with some rocking blues originals and a tight set that left the crowd wanting more. Felix Slim impressed the judges with his solo performance that featured him on guitar, harmonica and kazoo., a throwback to the old days of travelling bluesmen making their livings one juke joint at a time.
He noted during the show that the day felt “more like a blues festival than a competition.”
In the coming months, the Long Island Blues Society will be hosting events throughout the area to help raise money to send our winners south. The shows will feature live music and raffles, including a resonator guitar signed by local artists and a cigar box guitar. Check back here for dates.
The International Blues Challenge is held each year in Memphis, sponsored by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation
“I’m excited to be representing Long Island on Beale Street,” said solo/duo winner Felix Slim. “I look forward to playing in Memphis and showing the world how we do it up here.”
You can help them get there
An elite panel of judges from the music scene on Long Island had their hands full at Katie's of Smithtown when they had to decide who among the competing bands would be sent off to Memphis to represent the region in the International Blues Challenge in January.
The panel, (pictured above, L to R, Willie Steel, Shari Yeomans, Jim Sabella, Bobby Nathan and Joanne Nathan) spent the day watching and grading the acts before determining that the Pamela Betti Band and Felix Slim would represent Long Island on Beale Street.
The qualifications of the panel were top-notch.
Huntington Bay Music Store Founder Willie Steel is a noted, long-time musician on Long Island who fronts the Willie Steel band. He has gigged from Maine to Memphis.
Singer/guitarist Shari Yeomans is another fixture on the Long Island music scene. She has fronted her own bands and toured internationally as a vocalist for top recording artists.
Joanne and Bobby Nathan owned and operated Unique Recording Studios and have recorded music legends such as James Brown and Stevie Ray Vaughn and a host of others
Guitar player Jim Sabella owns and operates Sabella Studios and he, too, has recorded many top-flight national acts, including Derek Trucks and Government Mule.
Do you like the blues? Then we like you. Join us and help keep the blues alive as a living art form -- and have some fun to boot! THere are memberhip levels for every person, from fan to sponsor.
Watch for Long Island Blues Society President Jim Kolman, along with Bill Lifford and Jr. Davis from Harmonica Bill and Marked Deck