Dear Alabama Blues Project Supporters,

I am happy to announce that the Alabama Blues Project Advanced Band showcased at the 26th Annual Blues Foundation International Blues Challenge and blew everyone away! For the first time ever, they performed in the Youth Showcase among thousands of blues fans and musicians from all around the world! Not only did they put on a fantastic show, they also had the experience of a lifetime.

PhotobucketOur band played at the historic New Daisy Theater on Beale Street on Friday afternoon, and they were (not that I'm biased or anything) my favorite show of the whole weekend. On Friday night some of our band members participated in the Youth Showcase Jam Session at the historic Old Daisy Theater across the street, where they mixed up with other young musicians. It was amazing to see the talent of our kids to be able to play songs they didn't know with people they had never played with before! Along the way, we got to see some incredible blues music, and it was obvious that our Blues Camp students were very inspiredby what they saw and heard! Other activities that band members took advantage of in Memphis were Sun Records, Gibson Guitar Factory, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Rock & Soul Museum, and Graceland. It was a haven for blues lovers!

I would like to thank all of our dedicated supporters, music instructors, youth workers and staff for helping make Blues Camp such a great program. Ralph Lusian and B.J. Miller were the advanced band leaders, and did a tremendous job prepping our young musicians for the IBC. Also, this trip to Memphis would not have been possible without financial assistance - a very special thank you to - Foundation and Matthias Tormaehlen, without whom this trip could not have happened. Thank you all!

Please enjoy this newsletter of our time at the IBC!

Best wishes,
Cara Smith, Program Director

Click Here for Video of the IBC Performance!
(Courtesy of Matthias Tormaehlen)

Read Our Stories!

Matthias Tormaehlen (Board Member)

Click Here for Cara's Photos of the IBC Weekend

Click Here for Matthias's Photos of the IBC Weekend


Photo by Jan King
Two Sisters Photography

The Alabama Blues Project teaches music through award winning blues programs, and these are its elite students. Inspired by classic blues and adding a fountain of youth, they perform covers and originals. Rachel Edwards pipes heartrending vocals and is flanked by up-and-coming background singers, LaBorn Brown and Cheyna Dancer. Tyler Carter is an eclectic lead guitarist and vocalist, backed by Austin Davis’ steady strums. Jonathan Blakney sings and brings harmonica genius. Bennett Limbaugh adds a funky bass, while Tasheka Spencer and Duncan King play tight percussion. Having received much praise and bookings, these young talents have also shared the stage with many blues greats including Willie King, Sam Lay, Dr. G.B. Burt, Eddie Kirkland and Bobby Rush.

PhotobucketJonathan Blakney
Harmonica & Vocals

My first visit to Memphis was unbelievable. The number of great musicians brought a lot of new ideas to my way of thinking. I really enjoyed just hanging out with friends and writing some new material with a different slant. I am thankful for the chance to be a participant in such a learning event. I was also blown away by seeing Magic City Blues Society's band from Birmingham on Friday night at Hard Rock (2BLU). I had never seen anyone play a suitcase or a brass spittoon!

PhotobucketTyler Carter

Memphis was an awesome experience. To be able say that I've played the blues on Beale Street is incredible. Just being Memphis, you feel immersed in blues music. I loved being apart of the International Blues Challenge. I also loved the fact that with our passes, they let us into the bars, which is pretty great because as a 16 year old, I miss out on a lot of music because of my young age. I have to thank the Alabama Blues Project for giving us such a great opportunity and Ralph Lusian for getting the band ready. I had an incredible time.

PhotobucketAustin Davis

I really enjoyed the trip to Memphis, and I thought it was an awesome experience. I saw many incredible bands, met some awesome people and got to experience Beale Street for the first time. I thought playing in the historic New and Old Daisy Theaters was great for me to get more experience on stage. I learned how to adjust to playing with people I've never played with before in the Youth Showcase Jam, learned how to deal with a backline, and realized that blues is interpreted differently by everyone who plays it. Thanks so much Alabama Blues Project!

PhotobucketRachel Edwards

The trip to Memphis really broadened my horizons on my band mates, on blues music and the industry, the history of musicians that pre-dated me, and the ones who are still at it. I’m finally grasping the concept of fully appreciating what goes into making a trip like this possible a lot of hard work and dedication. Whether it was meeting deadlines or scheduling practices, I would do it all again, 10 times if I had my way! Debbie, Rick, Cara, Matthias, Steven Hobbs, Ralph Lusian, B.J. Miller, and all the board members and staff, and the parents who stick with us and allow their children to be a part of this program and making endeavors like this possible. I am so grateful for The Alabama Blues Project and everyone and anyone who supports the organization and organizations like us. Thank you all so much and long live the Blues!!!

Click Here to Read Much More of my Story!

PhotobucketDuncan King

My trip to the IBC in Memphis was awesome. I got to see lots of great blues bands perform like 2 BLU & The Lucky Stiffs. Our band was able to perform in the New Daisy Theater in the Youth Showcase and that was great. Then I was able to play at the Youth jam in the Old Daisy Theater with some really great musicians from around the country. Both were lots of fun. It was also really interesting to walk down Beale Street and to visit the historic clubs there. It was a great experience, and I can't wait to go back next year!

PhotobucketBennett Limbaugh

I would like to thank everyone who made the Memphis trip possible. A lot of times I feel like the blues just isn't alive anymore, but after going to Memphis it seems like it's more alive now than ever. The International Blues Challenge is a great oppourtunity for a lot of musicians to become known. The best part about the trip was that I got to experience something that not very many people get to, let alone a 15 year old. I'm very thankful for the opportunities that the Alabama Blues Project has given me, and this an experience that I will never forget.

PhotobucketTasheka Spencer

I have to say the Memphis trip was really EXCITING! Being there with my band members made me feel great, as I wouldn’t want to be there with any one else! I love you guys as my family because that’s what you are to me. We had a great performance and we will turn it out at competition next year. I hope we can do something during the summer together, also. Thanks again to Rachel, Tyler, Austin, and Bennett for being there! Also to the rest of the band and the Alabama Blues Project... LOVE U GUYS!!!:0


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Our programs are made possible by the generous support of our sponsors, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Alabama State Council on the Arts, The Crooks Foundation, Bonnie Raitt, Mercedes Benz, Harrison Galleries LLC and The Jim I. Harrision Family Foundation, Jim Walter Resources, Kwik Kopy Printing, Nick's Kids Fund, The Reese Phifer Jr. Memorial Foundation, The D'Addario Foundation for the Performing Arts, Barkley GMC, Hohner, McAbee Construction, Banks Quarles Plumbing & Heating, Jim Myers Drug, Covenant Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa , First United Methodist Church of Tuscaloosa, Hohner, Fender, Manna Grocery, db Tech, Fender Music Foundation, Yvonne & Leslie Pollack Foundation, Tuscaloosa Consortium for Higher Education, United Way of West Alabama, Zildjian, and many other kind organizations and individuals.

Alabama Blues Project
712 25th Avenue
Northport, AL 35476
(205) 752-6263

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