John Egan Gets His Mojo Working For IBC Challenge
"They told me I needed fresh business cards," says the solo Houston bluesman known for twisting barbed licks out of his silver hollowbody Resonator guitar. "It's totally counterintuitive to my approach to this thing, but I understand."
Next week Egan will compete in the solo/duo class of the International Blues Challenge, the Memphis-based Blues Foundation's annual contest. Prizes include a smattering of bookings at various blues festivals across the country and a "blues cruise," a "professional press kit," $2,000 cash and significant career advancement.
Egan has been honing his chops at his Monday-night residency at the Big Easy and won the Houston IBC competition at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar in October, which allowed him the opportunity to compete in Memphis. Next week will be his first time advancing to Memphis after competing in the local round last year.
Next week Egan will perform at least twice, 25-minute sets both Wednesday and Thursday at the same club. He and the other contestants -- whom he describes as acts ranging from a guitar/piano duo to a "full-on one-man band" -- will be evaluated in three categories: the highly subjective "blues content," and to a lesser degree vocal/instrumental ability and originality/showmanship. If he scores high enough, Egan will advance to the finals next Saturday at Memphis's Orpheum Theatre.
Like many such events, the IBC is a destination for music-business types like booking agents, festival bookers (domestic and international) and label scouts. Egan figures a little mingling couldn't hurt.
"Hand out the business cards, hand out CDs, press the flesh, do everything that I probably wouldn't normally want to do, but it's an opportunity to advance the career to at least another stage," he says. "Hopefully the international thing, because that would be a chance to add some income to the yearly total. The guys who go [overseas] seem to do pretty well."