Acoustic Blues Contest
Reese’s Excalibur Lounge
Wednesday, Nov. 29
“There’s kick-butt talent coming to entertain you tonight,” Jeff Stafford (Veneda Brothers, Short Bus Criminals) announced before the Acoustic Blues Contest finals last Wednesday at Reese’s Excalibur Lounge. “It’s hard to book bands through the week. I started out at open mics and know it can be intimidating at jam nights at the [Slippery] Noodle or Kelly’s Pub. This is a chance for new faces.”
For the last seven weeks, contest organizer Stafford has invited up-and-coming acoustic blues players to the stage. Over two dozen players from across Indiana performed. One winner each week qualified for the finals. Of the seven finalists, only two showed up.
“I knew one of them couldn’t make it because they got a job in California,” Stafford said. “I don’t know where the rest of them are. Maybe it’s because of the holiday season.”
After a 20-minute delay, the show began.
First up was Shane Brown of Muncie, 28, and winner from week one. His first song combined Joe Cocker’s “Feeling Alright” and Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance” (complete with human beat box). His set also included songs by Marvin Gaye, the Doobie Brothers and Cocker’s version of “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
Next up was Kolo Bell, a bearded man in his 50s, who opened with Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway.” He also performed “Four in the Morning,” Louis Jordan’s “Ain’t Nobody’s Business But My Own,” one of his own compositions (“Red-Headed Woman”) as well as songs by Johnny Cash and The Police.
Shane Brown and his mixture of acoustic guitar and human beat box won.
“I was brought up on all kinds of stuff,” Brown said. “Hip-hop, reggae, blues. I love the old sound. I wanna do it all.”
During his post-victory performance, Brown reprised his version of “The Humpty Dance” and segued into a verse and chorus of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy.”
None of the finalists went home empty-handed, since there were two prize packages. Bell received a $25 check and some T-shirts. Brown won a new acoustic guitar, studio time courtesy of Applegate Audio, a Budweiser mirror and other product swag.