MARIETTA - Talent was at an all-time high for this past weekend's River City Ohio Blues Competition, event organizers said.
A total of 18 bands battled over the weekend for the 19th annual event in front of an estimated 1,000 fans of blues music.
Steve Wells, vice president of the Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society which put on the weekend event, said a Columbus-based band won this year's competition.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Members of The Code Blue Band from Columbus perform Saturday evening in the ballroom of the Lafayette Hotel in downtown Marietta as part of the River City Ohio Blues Competition.
"The talent was never better," Wells said. "Only a few points separated first and second place. We've had nothing but compliments on how well everyone enjoyed the weekend."
In addition to a $1,200 cash prize, the winning band, Ray Fuller and the Blues Rockers, will represent the local area next year at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
The Noah Wotherspoon Band, of Cincinnati, came in second place and the Elm Street Blues Band, of Cleveland, placed third. Local favorite Vinnie and the Lubricators failed to make the finals.
Got The Blues
The River City Ohio Blues Competition winners were:
First place: Ray Fuller and the Blues Rockers (Columbus), $1,200 in cash and an invitation to the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
Second: The Noah Wotherspoon Band (Cincinnati), $600.
Elm Street Blues Band (Cleveland), $300.
"This event continues to grow and it has really put Marietta on the map as far as music goes," Wells said. "This is the biggest weekend of music in this area and we've got a reputation of putting on a first-class event."
Money raised at this year's competition will go to help put on additional blues events, with the next being the annual River City Blues Festival on March 18 and 19 at the Lafayette Hotel, which also hosted this past weekend's event.
This weekend's winning band will perform during the festival, along with acclaimed blues musicians and groups from around the country.
Wells said about 300 people attended Friday's first-round preliminary and about 400 bought tickets to the Saturday afternoon second-round preliminary. The winners of both preliminaries performed Saturday night in the finals..
"The evening show was jammed packed," Wells said. "I'd estimate there were 450 people in the ballroom. It was hard to navigate, but it was a lot of fun."