The participation of German blues musicians in the world's largest blues competition on American ground itself is extremely unusual – but Georg Schroeter (piano, vocals) and Marc Breitfelder (harp) winning the 27th International Blues Challenge 2011 in Memphis, TN, USA, cannot be overestimated.
Fact is that the two musicians from Kiel (Northern Germany) are the first European musicians in the IBC's 27 years' history to run away with this prestigious award from the USA, the home of the!
The duo took its first try to win the IBC in January 2010. By gaining the German and Baltic Blues Challenges 2009 in Eutin, Germany, they met the requirements to get nominated for the IBC 2010 by the Baltic Blues Society Eutin. Last year blues lovers in Memphis already paid attention as they came in second place at the IBC's semi finals. By winning the German Blues Award 2010 – also sponsored by the Baltic Blues Society Eutin, Germany – they were entitled to participate in this year's IBC again.
Well experienced and self-assured from last year's competition Georg Schroeter and Marc Breitfelder went straight through two quarter finals and the semi final in the clubs on Memphis' legendary Beale Street to the final competition at the time-honored Orpheum Theatre. In front of an audience of nearly 2000 the two Northerners (the German term translated word by word would be "Northern lights") showed their excellent skills and delivered a brilliant set during their 20 minutes performance. Carried and pushed by the overwhelmed and often spontaneously applauding audience Georg and Marc brought their show to a thundering climax which swept the audience off their feet.
So it really did not come as a surprise that jury and audience unisonously agreed, when Jay Sieleman, Executive Director of the Blues Foundation, USA, at the end of the solo/duo competition spoke those crucial words: "The winner is........ Baltic Blues Society, Georg Schroeter and Marc Breitfelder, representing Germany!"
Besides being winners of the IBC even more important might be the demands and offers which came in on heels of their success: Schroeter & Breitfelder have already been engaged for several tours throughout the USA, e.g. for five blues festivals and the Legendary Rhythm'n'Blues Cruise (Caribbean Cruise in January 2012). In Europe the duo is going to play the Blues Festival Parma (Italy), Blues Sur Seine Festival Paris (France) and the 22nd BluesBaltica Eutin (Germany). And the renowned record producers Charley Burch and Michael Freeman have shown their interest in working on modern blues projects with them.
Key facts of the IBC:
Date: 2 – 5 February 2011
Place: Memphis, (TN, USA), Beale Street
Winners band competition:
1st place: The Lionel Young Band (Colorado Blues Society)
2nd place: The Mary Bridget Davies Group (Kansas City Blues Society)
3rd place: Rob Blaine's Big Otis Blues (Windy City Blues Society)
Winners solo/duo competition:
1st place: Georg Schroeter & Marc Breitfelder (Baltic Blues Society, Eutin, Germany)
2nd place: Harrison Kennedy (Canal Bank Shuffle in Ontario, Canada)
Participants: 110 bands und 80 solo/duo from 40 US States and 13 other countries.
Sequence of solo/duo competition:
Quarter-Finals 2/3 Feb, Marc & Georg at "Silky Sullivans" (8 participants)
Semi-Finals: 4 Feb, Marc & Georg at "Blues Hall" (11 participants)
Finals: 5 Feb, Orpheum Theatre (8 participants)
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