The Paul CruiZe Blues Crew on Their Trials and Triumphs at the International Blues Challenge
When the esteemed International Blues Challenge took place in Memphis late last month, one local band got an opportunity to go for blues immortality. Namely, the Valley's Paul CruiZe Blues Crew, which represented Arizona at the annual competition and made it all the way into the semifinal round before bowing out.
Images courtesy of Paul Cruize The Paul CruiZe Blues Crew performs at the International Blues Challenge 2014.
Although Cruize says the experience of competing at the IBC was great, the vocalist and guitarist for the local three-piece -- which also features Royce Murray on the Hammond organ and Tim Robinson -- had a few issues with how the world-renowned blues battle went down.
According to Cruize, a frustrating part about the competition was that its judges didn't give the band any comments on why they didn't make it farther than the semifinals. Especially given the great response he says they got from the audiences that watched their performances.
"We were greatly received. The people loved us and gave us rave reviews. Musicians from other bands were also raving about us," he says.
The Paul Cruize Blues Crew performed a total of three times during the IBC, the world's biggest gather of bands from the genre that took place from January 21 to January 25. The band's first performance was at BB King's restaurant and blues joint in Memphis where they played three songs in 20 minutes: Bobby Bland's "Loving on Borrowed Time," Anthony David's "Spitting Game," and a humorous version of Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe."
In the second round, also held at BB King's club, involved the band switching out "Loving on Borrowed Time" with their original "Mumbo Jumbo."
"BB King's place was packed and it was like a juke joint. It wasn't that big but they had a nice stage," Cruize says. "They had great barbecue ribs and the sound system was good."
After their performance, the judge's posted on the IBC website and in the participating Memphis blues clubs that Paul CruiZe Blues Crew had made it into the semifinal round.
So far so good.
The Blues Crew's third performance was at the New Daisy Theater where their three-song set was extended to 25 minutes. They played an original song, "Love All My Blues Away," a medley of Ann Peebles' "I Can't Stand the Rain" and Prince's "Purple Rain" before finishing with the "Spitting Game.
But while the venue wasn't new or big, he says it was a good place to play.
"The sound system was great and they had a giant stage. The bar was packed and they had the blues youth showcase on before us," he says. "Some of those kids were really good."
And, like in the previous rounds, the Blues Crew also earned a good reaction.
"Some bands told us that we had to be the winners because we were different and creative," Cruize says.
It wasn't enough for the IBC judges, however, and the band was ultimately eliminated.