The Wichita Blues Society will be hosting its 16th annual Blues Ball on Saturdayat the Cotillion.
Headlining this year’s event is Anthony Gomes, a guitarist and singer from Toronto, who earned his master’s degree from the University of Toronto focusing on the racial evolution of blues music. Gomes was named Blues Artist of the Year in 2003 by BluesWax. Billboard magazine also called him the “No. 1 blues artist.”
Jim Lanzrath, president of the Wichita Blues Society, described Gomes as “a great guitarist and performer.”
The Wichita Blues Society also will be showcasing its local blues challenge winners, Me & the Boyz and Cleveland Blue. Both acts will be going to the International Blues Challenge, which begins Tuesday in Memphis.
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Me & the Boyz is fronted by Deanna Custard, who goes by “Lady Dee.” She’s joined by Spencer Cummings on guitar, Larry Sander on drums and Val Williams on bass. The group is celebrating the release of its album “It Will Be Done” with a CD release jam party at 8 p.m., Friday at Soggy Bottom Too, 767 N. West St.
Cleveland Blue is a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter from Cleveland, Ohio. Blue’s Facebook page describes his music as “reminiscent of a Delta meets Motown with a shaken, not stirred, jazz flavor.”
“I have been to Wichita several times. I love the place. Such a great music scene and the people are so amazing,” Blue said.
“Acoustic blues from the soul is what we have in store. I’m really excited to be playing back in Wichita, and honored to be representing the wonderful Wichita people and Wichita Blues Society in Memphis at the I.B.C. I hope I can make you all proud.”
The Blues Ball is an “annual celebration of the blues, a send-off party for our local blues challenge winners and a fundraiser,” Lanzrath said.
People will have a chance to win autographed guitars, CDs and tickets to concerts donated by the Cotillion and Bad Bean Productions. Proceeds from the prize drawings go to the society’s youth education programs such as the monthly youth jam held the first Saturday of each month, and the Blues in the Schools program.
The event hasn’t changed much in the 16 years since it started, Lanzrath said.
“We try to bring in a different style of blues than the previous year. It’s all about keeping the blues alive – our motto and our mission,” he said.
Tickets are $20 at the door and $15 for Wichita Blues Society members.