New Orleans-based blues band Keith Stone with Red Gravy will host a party at Frenchy’s Art Gallery on Oak Street this Wednesday night, January 10, to celebrate the anticipation of their performance in Memphis next week. Keith Stone with Red Gravy will be representing New Orleans and the New Orleans Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, an event that runs January 16 through 20. They will be competing against 210 other blues bands from around the world.
“Representing New Orleans at the International Blues Challenge is almost surreal. The history of this city hangs in the air like humidity, and the musical history is a very big part of that,” says bassist Kennan Shaw. “To call it an honor doesn’t begin to cover the scope of emotions!”
The International Blues Challenge represents the worldwide search for “those blues bands and solo/duo Blues acts ready to perform on the international stage, yet just needing that extra big break.” The challenge is judged by professionals from across the globe who have years of experience in listening to, producing, and ultimately creating blues music. “For the IBCs we’re doing an all original set of blues heavily influenced by New Orleans originators,” says Shaw. “The band, with Keith Stone on guitar and vocals, Tom Worrell on keys, Eddie Christmas on drums and me, Kennan Shaw on bass, have spent a lot of rehearsal time on the arrangements and working off one another, which is a hallmark of music in this city.” Shaw recognizes the blessing and the responsibility of representing such a musically renowned city. “There’s no place in the world where music plays a bigger daily role, and we’re taking the responsibility very serious,” he says. “We’re the only act representing the New Orleans Blues Society, and I think we’re the first band to do so in a couple of years. So we better not screw it up!”
The band’s hard work and dedication will be showcased during their performance at Frenchy’s Art Gallery. Along with food, wine, and King Cake, Keith Stone with Red Gravy will also be previewing their IBC set. Plus, Shaw tells OffBeat.com, “Wednesday night we’re expecting Deacon John to come by and bless the whole mess, and Al ‘Carnival Time’ Johnson and Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington are supposed to drop by, also. And who knows who else! All in all a proper send off for the band!”
The January 10 gig serves, in part, as a fundraiser for the band’s travels to Memphis, so donations are encouraged. The party kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will end around 10 p.m. Frenchy’s Art Gallery is located at 8314 Oak Street in Carrollton.