Monday, January 24, 2011

Plugging Fredericton event: Battle of the Bands continues all week
(as published in the Daily Gleaner, January 27/11)

Tourism officials are hoping a competition to find the best emerging blues artist in the United Kingdom will put New Brunswick on the radar of blues fans across the globe.

About 100 talented blues groups are participating in a series of battle-of-the-bands competitions in popular music venues in Nottingham, Southampton, Essex, Glasgow and Manchester this week. The winner will be given an all-expenses paid trip to Fredericton, complete with a prominent performance slot at this year's Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.

Cherry Lee Mewis, a young roots and blues powerhouse from North Wales, has been chosen as the winner of the first round of performances. The second round is slated to happen tonight.

New Brunswick's Tourism and Parks Minister Trevor Holder said he believes this is a tremendous opportunity to show off our province's beautiful scenery, friendly citizens, and to spread the word about exciting events such as the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.

"It's a coveted place for musicians," he said. "This is obviously an example of how we need to talk about ourselves more as a province. This is clearly an opportunity for us to showcase not only Fredericton but New Brunswick as a whole."

He said he was pleased to see the amount of interest in this competition in the United Kingdom. "Tourism is clearly a growth market and we need to be tapping into it."

Harvest music director Brent Staeben said taking part in international marketing opportunities will only help grow the festival's burgeoning reputation. "Anything that helps position us in the industry as an international festival is always positive because the good word travels around," he said.

"It's no different than Derek (Trucks and Susan Tedeschi) having a fantastic time here and telling everyone they know in the industry about us. "The industry is worldwide and there are lots of great blues acts in the United Kingdom and we want our reputation in the industry to grow."

He said it's also an opportunity to promote Fredericton as a special destination. "We really do have a unique product here. We can talk about other great festivals, some are bigger, some have great lineups, but what we've got going on here is really unique," he said.

As an added bonus, popular Harvest performer and Bairdsville native Matt Andersen has been tapped to assist with the competition's judging process. The successful bluesman will be listening to each of the acts and helping organizers pick the winning artist, before he's given an opportunity to perform at the final event in the competition.
Matt Anderson
Staeben said that's going to give him a chance to promote himself, and the festival, on a major stage. "He's going to be playing in front of, essentially, everybody in the British blues world in London in connection with this contest," he said. "So it's a wonderful opportunity ... We're looking forward to putting down some roots in the British blues industry and hopefully we'll see this (competition) keep going."

More information about the competition, and the artists performing, is available at www.tourismnewbrunswick.co.uk.

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