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Rogue Valley bluesmen are Memphis bound

Help your local blues society send Rogue Valley musicians to the 30th annual International Blues Challenge to be held next week in Memphis, Tenn.

The Ashland Blues Society will host a fundraiser from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, at The Little Brown Jug, 104 S. Pacific Highway, Talent. Admission is $5. There will be raffles for CDs and house concerts and a 50-50 drawing. Proceeds will help fund local bands' travel expenses.

Blues and old-school R&B band In the Pocket — with Leonard Griffie on guitars, Billy Rock Smith on drums, Mark Cunningham on bass and keyboard player Pat McDougall — and steel and acoustic guitarist Pete Herzog of the Ashland Blues Society, along with blues duo David Pinsky and Phil Newton of Eugene's Rainy Day Blues Society, will head to Memphis this weekend to compete in the five-day blues challenge.

According to the newest IBC newsletter, a record number of 255 acts from 40 U.S. states and 16 countries will come together for the largest gathering of blues acts in the world.

In the Pocket, Herzog and duo Pinsky and Newton will perform short sets of music they plan to present at the IBC, putting some last-minute polish on their material.

The musicians will compete for cash, prizes and industry recognition. The annual challenge offers blues bands and solo and duo blues artists opportunities to take their acts to the international stage.

In 2013, 125 bands and 80 solo and duo acts enter, filling the clubs up and down Memphis' Beal Street. The final competition will be held Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Orpheum Theater.

Phil Newton and David Pinsky