Billtown Blues Challenger Archives

Auditions to determine the opening act of the Billtown Blues Festival began in 1993, as more and more bands began to form and spread the music throughout our region. That first audition was won by the trio Artie "the Cat" Renkel, Nate Myers and Greg Burgess. They opened the 1993 4th Annual Billtown Blues Festival.

In 1997 the Billtown Blues Association Inc. joined the Blues Foundation in Memphis, TN, raising the stakes. Winners no longer stopped with opening our festival. They were now eligible to compete in the International Blues Challenge (IBC)in Memphis, TN. Frank Grace & the Detonators were the first band to go for that prize as the 1997 Billtown Blues Festival audition winners. The 1999 IBC was moved from October 1999 to January 2000 as part of the first annual Blues First Convention, sponsored by the Blues Foundation. The 1999 audition winner Big Daddy Dex and the Groove represented the Billtown Blues Association, Inc. at the 2000 International Blues Challenge and the first "Blues First Convention."

The 1998 audition winners, BC & the Blues Crew, advanced to the 1998 IBC finals in Memphis, TN at the International Blues Challenge. This was the first time a band representing the Billtown Blues Association received this honor. The 2002 audition winners Mike Guldin and Rollin' and Tumblin made it to the 2003 IBC finals! This was the second time a band representing the Billtown Blues Association received this honor. The 2010 solo/duo audition winner John "JT Blues" Thompson made it all the way to the 2011 IBC solo/duo finals. This was the first time a solo/duo act representing the BBA received this honor.


Representing the BBA at the INTERNATIONAL BLUES CHALLENGE in Mempis, TN

1997 - Frank Grace & the Detonators
1998 - BC & the Blues Crew
1999 - No IBC, event moved to 2000
2000 - Big Daddy Dex and the Groove
2001 - Dan Stevens
2002 - Blues and Gasoline
2003 - Mike Guld in and Rollin' and Tumblin
2004 - The Lipsmack in Blues Band
2005 - The Blind Chitlin Kahunas in the Band category
               Sean Appel in the Solo/Duo category
2006 - Nate Myers and the Aces
2007 - Jonah Gregory in the Solo/Duo category
               The Blind Chitlin Kahunas in the Band category
2008 - Black-N-Blues in the Band category
               Brennon John in the Solo/Duo category
2009 - Ann Kerstetter Band in the Band category
               V.E. Paul in the Solo/Duo category
2010 - Irving Street Blues in the Band category
               Jack & Lilly in the Solo/Duo category
2011 - Miz Ida and the All-Night as in the Band category
               John "JT Blues" Thompson in the Solo/Duo category.
2012 - The Porkroll Project in the Band category
               Shawn Strickland in the Solo/Duo category.
2013 - Roy G. Blues in the Band category
               Sean Farley in the Solo/Duo category.
2014 - The Porkroll Project in the Band category
               Greg Burgess in the Solo/Duo category.
2015 - The Nate Myers Band in the Band category
               Sean and Adam (Sean Farley & Adam Tarin) in the Solo/Duo category.
2016 - Vanessa Collier in the Band category
               Doug McMinn in the Solo/Duo category.
2017 - Gabe Stillman and the Billtown Giants in the Band category
               Kimbo Reichley and Bryan Noaker in the Solo/Duo category.

2018 - Jeff Fetterman in the Band category

              Twin Sinners in the Solo/Duo category

2019 - The Gabe Stillman Band in the Band category

              Chris LaRose in the Solo/Duo category

2020 - The Benjamin Vo Blues Band in the Band category

              Mini Mojo in the Solo/Duo category


2019 - Band Winner: The Benjamin Vo Blues Band

             Participants: The Cadillac Cats, The Benjamin Vo Blues Band, Blues on the Loose, JP Williams Blues Band, AC's Soul                           Medicine, The Becky Blue Band

             Solo/Due Winner: Mini Mojo

             Participants: Mini Mojo, Jason P. Yoder, The Blues Creakers


2018 - Band Winner: The Gabe Stillman Band

                Participants: Backyard Ponies, Benjamin Vo Blues Band, The Gabe Stillman Band, The JP Williams Band, 

                Natascha and the Spy Boys

                Solo/Duo Winner: Chris LaRose

                Participants: Chris LaRose, Gage Avery, SOS Blues

2017 - Band Winner: Jeff Fetterman Band
               Participants: The Dirty Mojo Blues Band, Jeff Fetterman Band, Mums the Word
               Solo/Duo Winner: The Twin Sinners
               Participants: J-Bone and Miz Ida, The Twin Sinners

2016 - Band Winner: Gabe Stillman and the Billtown Giants
               Participants: Gabe Stillman and the Billtown Giants, James Day and the Fish Fry, Jeff Fetterman Band
               Solo/Duo Winner: Kimbo Reichley and Bryan Noaker
               Participants: Kimbo Reichley and Bryan Noaker, Jay Short and Cherl Miller

2015 - Band Winner: Vanessa Collier Band
               Solo/Duo Winner: Doug McMinn
               Participants: Vanessa Collier Band, The Hyatt Howe Band, Jeff Fetterman Band, Doug McMinn

2014 - Band Winner: The Nate Myers Band
               Participants: The Nate Myers Band, The Hyatt Howe Band, KG + 3, Jeff Fetterman Band, One Hot Minute
               Solo/Duo Winner: Sean and Adam
               Participants: Sean & Adam, Shawn Strickland & Larry Tickle

2013 - Band Winner: The Porkroll Project
               Participants: The Hawks Blues Band, The Dirty Mojo Blues Band, The Porkroll Project
               Solo/Duo Winner: Greg Burgess
               Participants: Doug McMinn, Greg Burgess

2012 - Band Winner: Roy G. Blues
               Participants: Miz Ida and the All-Nightas, Scoville Blues, Hyatt Howe Band, Roy G. Blues
               Solo/Duo Winner: Sean Farley
               Participants: Kim and Ed Rhoades, John "JT Blues" Thompson, Sean Farley, Frank Wicher & Chris Trasatti

2011 - Band Winner: The Porkroll Project   
               Participants: The Blind Chitlin Kahunas, The SheilaMark Band, The Dirty Nickels, PA. Crude
               Solo/Duo Winner:Shawn Strickland
               Participants: Great American Architects, Alligator Crossing, Kim and Ed Rhoades

2010 - Band Winner: Miz Ida and the All-Nightas   
               Participants: The SheilaMark Band, Dirty Mojo, Dave Mell Blues Band, Rotten Belly Blues
               Solo/Duo Winner: John "JT Blues" Thompson    Participants:Kim and Ed Rhoades

2009 - Band Winner: Irving Street Blues   Participants: Flicker Blues Band, In The Kitchen,
               The Blind Chitlin Kahunas, Dirty Bird Blues Band, BluesMoon
               Solo/Duo Winner: Jack and Lilly
               Participants: Hannah Bingman & Doug McMinn, Kim and Ed Rhoades

2008 - Band Winner: Ann Kerstetter BandParticipants: Irving Street Blues, Nate Myers & the Aces,
               The Blind Chitlin Kahunas, The Dirty Nickels, BluesMoon
               Solo/Duo Winner: V.E. PaulParticipants:Hannah Bingman & Doug McMinn, Steve Quelet, Jay Short

2007 - Winner: Black-N-Blues
               Participants: Brennon John (Runner-Up), The Dirty Nickels, Round Dog

2006 - Winner: Jonah Gregory
               Participants: The Blind Chitlin Kahunas, Dirty Bird, Round Dog

2005 - Winner: Nate Myers and the Aces
               Participants: Black and Blues, Doug McMinn, Midnight Shift, Octavia and the Earthblood Blues Band, Slaughterhouse Blues

2004 - Winner: The Blind Chitlin Kahunas
               Participants: Sean Appel, Jay and Rosie Short, Shade Tree Mechanics

2003 - Winner: Lipsmackin Blues Band
               Participants: The Fat Cats, Fat Vinny & the Wiseguys, Jay Short & Jonah Gregory, Zydecoal

2002 - Winner: Mike Guldin and Rollin' and Tumblin
               Participants: The Fat Cats, Jay Short & Jonah Gregory, The Jeff Fetterman Band, Shade Tree Mechanics

2001 - Winner: Blues and Gasoline
               Participants: Susquehanna Sheiks, Shade Tree Mechanics, 100° In The Shade, 9 lb. Hammer

2000 - Winner: Dan Stevens
               Participants: Cobra Kings Blues Band, Lick Farm, Doug McMinn, Don Shappelle

1999 - Winner: Big Daddy Dex and the Groove
               Participants: Cobra Kings Blues Band, Doug & Dave, Nuclear Dave & the Reactors, Young Gun Blues Band

1998 - Winner: BC & the Blues Crew
               Participants: Blues & Gasoline, Cruel 4 Days, Little Sister & the Rhythm Method, R.C. Yetter & Riviera Paradise, The Sirens

1997 - Winner: Frank Grace & the Detonators
               Participants: AAA Blues Band, Bluezilla, Blues & Gasoline, Crosscut Saw, Cruel 4 Days

1996 - Winner: Tom Rosencrans and Nate Myers.
               Participants: Blue Willie and Jay Short, The Dave Brumbaugh Band, Greg Burgess Trio,

               The Nightcrawlers, The John Sullivan Band

1995 - Winner: Mo' Blues

1994 - Winner: Krypton City Blues Review

1993 - Winner: Artie Renkel, Nate Myers and Greg Burgess