Not unlike in the television series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” it used to be that once every generation a chosen one, a new guitar hotshot, would emerge from the local blues scene. There was Noah Wotherspoon in the 1990s and Scotty Bratcher a decade later.
However, like season seven of “Buffy,” the floodgates have opened to introduce a growing field of potential blues slayers such as guitarists Kellen Williams, Joe Tellmann and Moses Mabarak. You can check out the latest batch of players when the Dayton Blues Society hosts the fourth annual Youth Showcase at W.O. Wright’s in Fairborn on Saturday, Feb. 17.
“It’s amazing, but there are actually seven kids in Dayton that play the blues,” said Dave Tellmann, the organizer of the Youth Showcase. “I don’t know what’s causing it, but it really has taken off. Maybe it’s because the blues is the basis for so much other music.
“We’ll have kids as young as 11 and as old as 20,” Tellmann continued. “There are a lot of locals but they’ll also be coming from Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and possibly Illinois. We’ll have Nathan Pope from North Carolina. He’s only 15 and he’s like the second coming of Joe Bonamassa.”
The musicians, both local and out-of-towners, have gained plenty of practical experience playing with professionals in their own communities. However, many of the players have studied at the Pinetop Perkins Foundation in Clarksdale, Miss.
“Blues has taken a dive and I don’t know if it’s ever coming back to the popularity it once had,” said DBS president Jeff Hill. “But it’s great to see all the talent we have in the Youth Showcase. We have some really good local kids and we’re getting them from out of state, too.”
Tellmann agrees. “These kids are professionals,” he said. “They’ll blow you away. They’re the next in line behind Noah and Scotty — and it’s not just guitarists but drums, bass, harmonica and vocals, too. These kids will put on a four-hour show that’ll make you think they’re a lot older than they are.
“It’s funny,” Tellmann said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve seen them play, whether it’s in Mississippi, Tennessee or Dayton, and people will say, ‘How long have they practiced together?’ They haven’t, they just know how to play so they can get on stage during a jam, pick it up and just go. It’s cool because that’s a dying skill for a lot of musicians.”
Admission to the Youth Showcase is free but donations are accepted. Proceeds will benefit the Pinetop Perkins Foundation.