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The Ottawa Blues Society was proud to present the third Great Canadian Polar Bear Blues Showcase on January 23, 2014 as part of the International Blues Challenge (IBC) festivities in Memphis, Tennessee. A big thank you to Shawn Danko, owner of the Kooky Canuck, and his staff for all of their support. Without them, this event would not be what it has become. Evidence of the popularity of the showcase was provided by the fact that we had to close the doors for a while as the Kooky Canuck filled to capacity.
The purpose of the showcase is to provide the Canadian entries in the IBC with another opportunity to play and gain additional exposure while in Memphis and to show the world blues community the level of talent coming from Canada.  It also serves as a great opportunity for all the Canadians attending the IBC, musicians and fans alike, to get together in one venue.
I am sure everyone enjoyed the work of our MC, Johnny Max, who did his usual great job keeping things moving along on time.
As the number of Canadian acts in the IBC has continued to grow, it was necessary to limit participation in this year’s showcase. The line-up included 17 Canadian entrants in the IBC consisting of 9 bands and 8 solo acts representing 12 Canadian blues societies and affiliate organizations as follows (some of the affiliates chose to have their solo/duo acts perform with their bands as noted):
Pappy Johns Band & Matt Weidinger – Grand River Blues Society
Brandon “Yukon Slim” Isaak with drummer Chip Hart from the Arsen Shomakhov Band – White Rock Blues Society
Lit’l Chicago & Chuckee Zehr– Great Lakes Blues Society
The Chain – Thunder Bay Blues Society
Mike Clark Band & Tim Williams – Calgary Blues Music Association
Dan Doiron – East Coast Blues Society
Wicked Grin – Ottawa Blues Society
Boogie Patrol & Jenie Thai – Edmonton Blues Society
Shawn Doré – Loyal Blues Fellowship
Jerome Godboo Band – Toronto Blues Society
Lisa Hutchinson Band – Collingwood Jazz & Blues
The MacKenzie Blues Band – Bruce County Blues Society
We are proud of all the participating musicians and wish to extend special congratulations to Tim Williams who won first place in the IBC solo/duo category and Jerome Godboo who won the Lee Oskar Harmonica Player award.
We were also pleased to see CBC’s Saturday Night Blues host, Holger Petersen in attendance and we extend our congratulations to Holger who was in Memphis to accept the Keeping the Blues Alive Award that was awarded to Stony Plain Records.
The showcase was once again a fundraiser for the Blues Foundation’s Raise the Roof campaign to build the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis. Raffle tickets were sold and we raised $525 for this project bringing the total contribution from the showcase to over $1,000. The main prizes included a beautiful original polar bear drawing by Irene Ippersiel, a copy of “A Portrait of Blues in Canada” by Randy MacNeil and Francine Aubrey contributed by Liz Sykes and a Canadian polar bear souvenir coin compliments of Vickie Paradis. Dave Brennan provided an autographed bottle of wine donated by Dan Aykroyd Wines and Irene’s Pub (Ottawa) owners Kara-Lee and Alex Golota provided a pile of Irene’s swag as well. A separate free draw was held for all the musicians for a customized guitar pedal compliments of Jeremy Spencley of Tribute Audio Designs. This was won by Jenie Thai of the Edmonton Blues Society.
Once again, special thanks to our volunteers who helped in many ways: OBS director Dave Brennan, OBS members Mike Graham, Kara-Lee Golota and Louise Cassidy. 
The success of the showcase is the result of contributions from a number of sources. In addition to those already mentioned, our sincere thanks to:
  • Consul General of Canada in Atlanta represented by Kimberly King, Communications & Advocacy Officer
  • All of the participating Canadian blues societies and affiliates
  • Jay Sieleman and Joe Whitmer of the Blues Foundation for advice and guidance
  • Budweiser of Memphis
  • 101.9 DAWG FM in Ottawa
  • Keyboards in Black & White Memphis (Backline)
Finally, my appreciation to fellow organizers, OBS President, Liz Sykes, who among many things coordinates the participating musicians and produces the compilation CD with music from all the Canadian entries and given out to those in attendance, Irene Ippersiel, who does such a wonderful job on all our graphics and Vickie Paradis who looks after a number of tasks and helped Liz staff the check-in desk at the showcase.
See you next year.
Gary Paradis
Vice President & Treasurer
Ottawa Blues Society
Board of Directors – The Blues Foundation
Chair – IBC Canadian Showcase

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