Memphis, TN - Eric Hughes Band wins 2007 Battle of the Blues
As the smoke cleared after the Battle of the Blues 2007, judges declared the Eric Hughes Band winners of the Memphis Blues Society's annual contest. For two nights at Neil's Bar & Grill in midtown Memphis the competition featured some of the Mid-South's most promising blues acts, demonstrating the same kind talent and soul that has made the word " Memphis" synonymous with blues music. Winning over not only the contest's judges, but also the audience, Hughes and company's catchy original Blues music was delivered with superior showmanship and enthusiasm. The Eric Hughes Band will proceed to the International Blues Challenge, where they will represent Memphis in the now world-famous blues summit held each year in the clubs on Beale Street each February.
Hughes, a native of Memphis, credits his band's victory to the valuable lessons learned from playing over one thousand shows in the clubs on Beale Street since 2001, when the Eric Hughes Band first played Mr. Handy's Blues Hall. Eric and his wife Laura (bass guitar) were joined two years ago by James Cunningham on drums, guitarist Memphis Mike Forrest, and keyboard player Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms.
"On any given night on Beale, you're competing against a dozen other bands, DJ's, karaoke, et cetera... if you don't have something genuine, exciting, and catchy to offer em'- then you get to play for an empty room & no money!" Hughes remarks, referring to the fiercely competitive nature that exists between the various forms of Entertainment offered on Beale Street. "You either hang in here, take your hits, and get really good, or else you dry up and blow away!"
The Eric Hughes Band weren't the only ones who came out ahead at the contest; you might say that the audience were the real winners, being witness to such talented contestants as Patty Harper & Faultline as well as Crash Kole and the Blue Souls, catching three incredible blues acts in one evening and free of charge.
Pulling out all the stops, Hughes joked with the audience and carried on in a fashion that belied the stressful and competitive nature of the contest, even blowing a harmonica solo while standing atop a customer's table! By night's end of Friday's competition, the solid delivery of Hughes' award-winning original songs earned the Eric Hughes Band the title of Memphis Blues Society's 2007 Battle of the Blues Champions.