The Gabe Stillman Band will be sharing his recordings with WXPI Community Radio. Listen to Gabe's stunning blues guitar music mix into the rotation during the Blues Hour, every night at 8pm on WXPI.GABE STILLMAN ADVANCES TO IBC FINALS AND WINS GIBSON GUITAR AWARD
The 35th Annual International Blues Challenge (IBC) was held January 23rd-26th, 2019 in Memphis, TN. The purpose of this event, a production of the Blues Foundation, is to bring blues musicians as solo/duo performers and in band formats, together in the “belly of the blues”, Memphis TN. 80 solo/duo performers and 101 bands congregated on historic Beale Street and “challenged” each other over four days; all vying through the 3-day judged elimination process, to reach the finals and the main stage of the Orpheum Theatre. Reaching this stage in front of thousands of people and many industry leaders in their respective fields can be a dream come true for many, and life-changing, career-changing event for others.
With the Blues Foundation affiliate backing of the Billtown Blues Association (BBA), Williamsport native Gabe Stillman and his band, Colin Beatty, Jesse Roedts, and Shane Sager, went, delivered impressive performances, and achieved their dream, landing in the finals with eight bands out of the starting 101. Although the band did not end up placing in the top three bands, shortly before they announced the top three highest scoring bands, they announced that Stillman was the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Gibson Guitar Award! This is awarded to the best guitarist who performed in the finals. Needless to say, Stillman was shocked and extremely excited, along with the rest of the twenty Billtown Blues Association members in the audience.
"The BBA has watched Gabe mature physically and musically from his first appearance on the Billtown stage in 2009 as a 14-year-old, to the huge accomplishment achieved by him and his band landing in the finals at the 2019 International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN," said Bonnie Tallman, Executive Director of the Billtown Blues Association. "Along the way Gabe as never wavered his focus on, or devotion to, the music he loves. We at Billtown Blues could not be more proud of his accomplishments. Gabe also believes in giving back, having served the BBA as a volunteer for many years, and now an active member of the BBA Core planning group.”
Stillman is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, as well as an alumnus and current instructor at Williamsport's Uptown Music Collective. "It's rare to see a young man's dream come true so quickly, said Uptown Music Collective Executive Director, Dave Brumbaugh. "In 2012 Gabe traveled to the IBC as a teenager with the Collective's first entry in the IBC's Youth Showcase, The Youngblood Blues Band. While there we all watched the finals and the presentation of the Gibson Guitar Award, and I know he imagined what it would be like to be on that stage. Just seven years later, after a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience he made it. All of us at the Uptown Music Collective are very proud of his accomplishments, both as a musician and as a person."
Also participating in the 35th Annual IBC, representing the BBA, was Chris LaRose from Lock Haven in the solo/duo category. LaRose advanced to the semifinals with a performance that was creative and beautifully executed as it took the audience on a historic blues journey, selecting songs from the early ’20s and even one from the 1700s.
The Billtown Blues Association, now in their 30th year, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, protect, and promote this important art form, and to provide opportunities for our own local and regional musicians who have chosen to devote their time and talent to the blues. They thank The Gabe Stillman Band and Chris LaRose for making it all worthwhile. The BBA has helped several other local musicians go to the IBC. A complete list is available on the BBA website, billtownblues.org.
For more information on Gabe Stillman and his band, visit www.gabestillman.com and follow them on Facebook.
Press Release provided by Jared Mondell, God of Thunder Media