Blues on the Pittsburgh stage

Evidently “still alive and well,” international blues guitar legend and producer Johnny Winter will be in Pittsburgh this Thursday, April 8 for a performance at Diesel Club Lounge. The subject of an upcoming biography (Raisin’ Cain: the Wild and Raucous Story of Johnny Winter, Backbeat Books, May 2010), Winter earlier this year put out the sixth volume in his Live Bootleg Series (Friday Music) featuring live tracks selected by Johnny himself. While I haven’t had a chance to check out much of the bootleg series, there are obviously plenty of good live cuts from Winter available elsewhere, one of my favorites being the previously unreleased, nearly 15-minute “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now” from last year’s The Woodstock Experience double CD set.

But Winter’s certainly not the only blues you’ll catch in the ‘Burgh in the coming days. This weekend, the locals will be squaring off for a chance at becoming international blues stars themselves when they represent the western Pa. region at The Blues Foundation’s annual International Blues Challenge. Sponsored by the Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania, the competition will take place Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. at the Ramada Inn-Greentree with 20-minute performances from 16 of the region’s blues acts, with winners to be crowned in both the solo/duo and band categories. The winners will then compete against other blues acts from across the country and around the world at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in early 2011.

If Saturday’s challenge doesn’t provide enough of a blues fix for you, the Society is also hosting a Sunday blues brunch at the hotel that features last year’s solo/duo winning act, Bubs McKeg and Dr. Blue. The cost of the brunch is included in the hotel rate for guests staying overnight or open to non-hotel guests for $10 per person.

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