Downtown Albany was awash in the blues last Friday night, as 10 bands performed at eight different venues as they battled for top honors in the second annual Downtown Albany Blues Music Competition.
This year’s competition was based on a new scoring system – 50% of the vote was calculated by popular vote of the general public, while the other half of the point total was determined by the competition’s guest judge Steve Daub, a 2012 inductee into New York State’s Blues Hall of Fame and longtime radio host of WRPI’s “Stormy Monday Blues.”
One of the greatest sounds known to man is the natural reverb of the drums and screaming guitar of a hot blues band careening off the canyon walls deep in a city. That sound returned to Albany’s Pearl Street for the first time in recent memory Friday night as 13 bands participated in the Business Improvement District’s inaugural Blues Music Competition. In the late ’90s and early 2000s, blues around Nippertown was at its peak, and on any given weekend you could easily have a hard time choosing between any number of great local acts, not to mention the regional and national acts that would often roll into town. The scene started to slow down several years ago, but if Friday night’s event is any indication, we are witnessing a resurgence.
Playing for pride and an opportunity to play on a larger stage at Alive at Five this summer, it was clear that each of the contestants came ready to strut their stuff, none more than perennial Schenectady blues man George Boone. Boone has always been a passionate performer and entertaining front man, but he was clearly playing for keeps to a packed crowd at the Pearl St. Pub. The George Boone Blues Band was the obvious top contender, with everyone else playing for second place, and he was rewarded by being voted one of the three winning artists.
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