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Friday, July 4: Back to Beale Street Blues Finals at Freedom Fair

Duke's Chowder House

King Kom Beaux

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It's Back to Beale Street time again - which for Bobble Tiki feels a little more like Back to back to back to back to back to Beale Street.

Every year the Back to Beale Street competition, which is sponsored by the South Sound Blues Association, is one of the highlights of Bobble Tiki's year. For blues fans not content to sit at home with Robert Johnson recordings, the yearly Back to Beale Street competition is just about as hot as it gets. Every year since the SSBA created the Back to Beale Street competition in 2005, Bobble Tiki has covered it like a moth to a flame - in such a good way.

What is the Back to Beale Street blues competition, newbies may be wondering? Let Bobble Tiki explain: Every year in January the International Blues Challenge goes down in Memphis, Tenn. Blues acts from across the country, and world for that matter, travel to the musical hotbed with hopes of walking away the winner. The SSBA - through Sunday's preliminary blues competition and the finals to be held in front of Duke's Chowder House at Tacoma's Freedom Fair July 4 - will carefully select one band and one act in the solo/duet category to represent the SSBA in Memphis - which, oh by the way, is where Beale Street is.

This year's Back to Beale Street finals at the Freedom Fair will include the CD Woodbury Band at 3:30 p.m., Brian Lee and the Orbiters at 4:45 p.m., Emily Randolph and Oaklawn at 6 p.m., Ayron Jones and The Way at 7:15 p.m. and King Kom Beaux at 8:30 p.m. Since Cajun blues trio King Kom Beaux were mistakenly left out of the official Freedom Fair program, Bobble Tiki feels he should give props to the three seasoned blues veterans: guitarist Doug Kearney, drummer Billy Barner and bassist Joe Hendershot. Louisiana born and raised, Kearney's deep Southern Bayou style of electric slide/blues guitar playing, writing and singing sets the soul stirring tone of the band. Barner is highly recognized as a solid "pocket" style drummer for more than five decades, receiving multiple blues awards and has made two trips to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Hendershot is a bass badass and has made the trip to the Memphis contest four times.

There's a lot on the line come Friday at Tacoma's huge Fourth of July festival - which is just one more reason why you should fight the traffic to get to Tacoma's waterfront. Bobble Tiki will see you there.

BACK TO BEALE STREET BLUES FINALS, The Cody Rentas Band opens at noon, competition at 3:30 p.m., Duke's Chowder House, 3327 Ruston Way, Tacoma, donations at gate,

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