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Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2007 11:38 pm

News of the blues

The Tommy Andrews Band and Shawn Kellerman play Springfield

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The Tommy Andrews Band plays Marly’s on Saturday, Oct. 6.
Untitled Document What is it about playing the blues that makes everyone feel so good? Who knows, and who cares? Just play the music, ’cause I got the blues bad and I want to feel good. In August, during the Old Capitol Blues & BBQs, the Illinois Central Blues Club held its first Blues Challenge for bands. Darrien Saffron and the Soul Sensations emerged the winner from the nine-act field and will represent the ICBC at the 2008 Blues Foundation International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., Jan. 31-Feb. 2. From 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Alamo (115 N. Fifth, 217-523-1455), the ICBC hosts its inaugural Blues Challenge for solos and duos to decide which lucky (and talented) act will represents our local blues society in that category next year in Memphis. The local challenges, much like the Memphis main event, are juried performances rated by judges on several levels. Contestants can come from anywhere, as long as they are members of the ICBC. The entry deadline is Oct. 15, and performers need to check out the Illinois Central Blues Club Web site, www.icbluesclub.org, for rules, forms, and other pertinent information. May the best bluesman or woman win and do us proud at the big show. But enough of this contest stuff: Two professional traveling shows hit town this week, bringing with them powerful, edgy sounds that skate just beyond the blues. First, on Saturday, Oct. 6, the Tommy Andrews Band takes the corner stage at Marly’s Pub (9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza, 217-522-2280) with some rockin’ blues from Kansas City. Born and raised in central Illinois, Tommy Andrews eventually settled into the Kansas City blues scene, but the story veered off track about four years ago, when Andrews sustained a skull fracture and brain injury that drastically curtailed his ability to play guitar. He worked through the pain and suffering by playing the blues and writing songs — and the TAB eventually made it all the way to the Kansas City finals of the 2006 International Blues Challenge. The blues power trio released Spaceheater, their first CD, in 2007. On Monday, Oct. 8, at the ICBC’s “Blue Monday” jam at the Alamo, experience the electrifying blues/funk/rock of gutsy guitarist Shawn Kellerman. The native of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, mixes standard blues progressions with screaming guitar and takes the blues to a new place sonically and artistically. Kellerman paid his blues dues jammin’ on the Southern circuit with Bobby Rush and others for several years, then set out on his own. His promo materials put him in the “modern blues” category, and it’s as a good a way as any to define his fiery interpretation of the music. There you go — all the blues that’s fit to print.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.
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