A visit to Memphis Notes and photos by Wanda Callagy

In the last month there has been a whirlwind of music coming from many directions. From Memphis, read about folks from the region who attended the sites at the IBC.

The Capital Region Blues Network sent a solo performer and a trio to Memphis to compete in the International Blues Jam in January. Both Jimy Graham and members of the Holly&Evan Trio came back with stories about their time in the south.

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Jimy Graham plays at the Orpheum Juke at the IBC solo challenge.

Jimy Graham came back from Memphis refreshed and from

what he calls a ‘life changing experience ‘ by attending the IBC.

“I was honored to be part of the CRBN competition and to win the opportunity to be in the midst of the young generation and youth movement and to be amongst musicians from Columbia, Japan, and all over the states,” he said.

“I met up with friends there and did more networking, taking in the Delta Mississippi Blues, and it has encouraged me to keep spreading my wings,” he added.

In the near future, Graham will play a big part in the upcoming Saratoga Acoustic Blues Festival in April, and he will travel to New York City to play at a premiere blues spot, Terra Blue, on March 2nd.

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Evan Conway
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Holly Taormina
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Rob Morris

The Holly&Evan Trio competed this year at the Jerry Lee Lewis Café, and they brought home many stories and some future gig dates not only at this venue, but at some of the places they stopped at along the way during the drive from New York south to Memphis.

Rob Morris traveled this year as drummer and was amazed at the southern hospitality he received during the trip.  “The food was fantastic, but I was impressed by the laid back atmosphere, and the fact that ‘everybody is somebody’ in that environment.”

He was able to meet musicians all over, and also noted the sacrifice that many make to travel to this challenge, from the cost of plane tickets to noting that another musician dealt with a broken instrument(a broken neck on a loved bass) in transit.

“You get a whole different perspective,’ he added.  “We took in a lot of history as we were able to explore the Delta region a bit and followed the blues trail.”

Holly&Evan traveled last year to the competition as a duo.  This year adding Morris their perspective playing in a band role this time was a little different.

“This year I did not have to worry about setting up and re-setting up my upright bass.  It was a very cool competition, as we met other bands that we enjoyed, plus, many of them loved what we were doing.  We did some traveling, seeing more of the south, visiting Clarksdale and Greenwood and had the opportunity to keep expanding our skills, with the possibility of picking up some gigs,” said Conway.

Holly Taormina returned feeling incredible from her experience .  “The guitarists I heard were inspiring, and it has made me want to push the boundaries on my own leads,” she said.  “We had a chance to see a little more of Mississippi, and visited both Robert Johnson’s grave and also Memphis Minnie’s and drove through areas where you would turn a corner and just see fields.  It is such a different environment, and I just loved it.”

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