The Long Island music scene may have a reputation for being "Cover Band Land"--but there’s a strong blues streak that runs through it. On Sunday, Jan. 12, a blues-infused fundraiser, “The Road to Memphis,” will be held at The Warehouse in Amityville to help send local acts the Long Island's own Pamela Betti Band and Brooklyn-based Felix Slim (not performing on the bill) to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
After winning a local competition this summer, these acts go to battle with 250 bands from around the world performing multiple 25-minute sets for a panel of judges for two rounds before the finals. The winner gets prizes that include studio time, gigs, advertising and cash.
“The blues is alive and well here on Long Island with a new found excitement,” says Raymond Hauck, president of the Long Island Blues Society. “We are seeing familiar faces come out that we haven’t seen in a while as well as new faces supporting the blues like never before.”
Here are five acts who will be on the bill:
PAMELA BETTI BAND
This is Betti’s second go-round at the International Blues Challenge. Her last shot was in 2007 with her old band Dirty Love when she made it to the semifinals. Now she’s more confident.
“I’m not even nervous. I can’t wait to get on stage,” says Betti, who lives in Commack. “Memphis is not going to know what hit them this time.”
Inspired by Etta James, Betti has a big brassy presence on stage delivering her firecracker lead vocals.
“I have no fear in front of a crowd,” she says. “I don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth half the time and people love that.”
Original songs like “Betti’s Blues,” “Down & Dirty,” “Trouble” and “Booty Call” plus Stevie Ray Vaughan cover, “Oreo Cookie Blues” will keep the crowd going.
“I’m so proud and blessed to do what I love,” says Betti. “I get such joy being able to share it with the blues community of the world.”
STANTON ANDERSON BAND
Since 1972, the Stanton Anderson Band has been delivering their blend of R&B, rock and soul. This 6-piece group will perform originals like “Can’t Stand to Stand Still” and “Running Scared” as well as covers of Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61” and classic blues standard “Further on Up the Road.”
“We broke up in the early '80s and for 17 years we didn’t play together,” says lead singer and harmonica player Mark Fowler of Islip. “This time around we’ve been playing longer than when we initially started and it feels great.”
The Affordables have been playing discount rhythm & blues for 32 years.
“Our sound is a real authentic blues feel,” says vocalist Mike La Porta of Levittown, who is also on harmonica, slide guitar and dobro. “Everyone in the band are true players who feel it. That’s what the blues is.”
They regularly gig at venues including Treme in Islip and 89 North in Patchogue.
Expect to hear hits like “Eyes Like a Cat,” “Down at Antone’s” and “Will It Go Round in Circles,” when Blue Roots take the stage. These 20-year veterans play regular gigs at Bobbique in Patchogue and Thai Rock in Rockaway Beach.
“Many venues turn down blues bands without knowing what they are missing,” says bassist Paul Bassi of Port Jefferson. “It’s all about opening doors. Once we get our foot in the door, we are usually rebooked.”
KERRY KEARNEY BAND
Kearney is ready to serve up some new cuts like “Shakin’ Like Jelly” and “No Way Back Blues” from his latest album, “Smokehouse Serenade.”
“I play a lot of different types of blues — Louisiana blues, Texas blues, Delta blues,” says Kearney of Far Rockaway. “We mix it up to keep it fresh.”
In 1996, Kearney and his band was the first from Long Island to head to the International Blues Challenge. Today he enjoys the local camaraderie.
“Blues music is very interwoven and communal,” says Kearney. “With all the musicians at the event, I hope to get an impromptu jam going.”
THE ROAD TO MEMPHIS
WHEN|WHERE 1 p.m. Sunday, January 12 at The Warehouse, 230 Broadway in Amityville
INFO 631-238-1820, thewarehouseli.com
ADMISSION $10 donation