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Tucson bluesmen take their award-winning duo to Memphis

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Local blues

Tucson bluesmen take their award-winning duo to Memphis

Walbank and Migliazza attend the 26th International Blues Challenge

  • Live from 09/09
    Courtesy Tom WalbankLive from 09/09

Tom Walbank and Arthur Migliazza may not have been able to bring home a first place in the 26th International Blues Challenge, but the duo was pleased to have reached the finals and put on a hell of a show.

I spoke with Walbank this morning. He and Migliazza were sitting down to breakfast at a Memphis Denny's with members of the Quebec Blues Society. The Challenge brought together blues acts and enthusiasts from around the world, creating what was, according to Walbank, "a strong sense of community."

The pair won the Southern Arizona Blues and Heritage Foundations Blues Challenge, held late last year at Club Congress. That victory sponsored the trip to Memphis as representatives of the region.

Walbank was thrilled at a chance to play in the final round of 8, culled from a roster of 80 Solo/Duo acts, at the landmark Orpheum Theatre this afternoon. The pair played original compositions from their 2009 album "Burn Your Bridges." 

The semifinals were held on Thursday and Friday in bars and clubs up and down Memphis' musical main drag, Beale Street. The duo emerged from the cacophony victorious late Friday night.

Walbank, a recent inductee into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, has also released albums with his own band, The Ambassadors, on local imprints Ow Om and Mudhouse Records. Known for his interpretation of timeless blues legends such as Muddy Waters and Sonny Terry, Tom's Ambassadors bring down various houses with dirty Delta-laced blues.

Migliazza has played with an impressive roster of internationally prominent musicians, and has released several albums himself, including 2006's "Pumping Ivories."

Arthur Migliazza and Tom Walbank both play in the 17th Street Band and in various other configurations around town. Separately or together, these guys are a must-see in the local scene.

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