Exploring Entertainment in Florida's 850 & Beyond
The International Blues Challenge is a massive event that takes place in Memphis, Tennessee every year. Performers from all over the world take part, proving that Blues music is alive and while.
Pensacola’s own Sprearman Brewers made it through the regional round and headed off for the main event in Memphis. We caught up with half of the duo before they hit the road for the big event.
“I first started the band in 2001,” shares Riggs. “I had just finished playing the Southeast region for a year plus with Willie Heath Neal. Having no clue what I was going to do next I decided to go back to the earliest point of recorded music, around 1898, and go forward from there. Along the way I rediscovered the recordings of Blind Boy Fuller, Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Jug Band, Louis Armstrong, etc., and decided I wanted to get these tunes out in public. I picked up a 12-string guitar player while I played mandolin and we proceeded to play old cuts from Memphis Jug Band, Cannon’s Jug Stompers, and the Monroe Brothers. After that early version of the Brewers dissolved I played in various bands until I decided to get seriously into writing original material. Having a bunch of songs inspired by the Pre-WWII era I decided to start recording these tunes under the name Spearman Brewers. I eventually got to the point where I wanted to get these songs out on stage I put together a duo of me on resonator guitar and a drummer. After a few months I felt like adding an upright bass or possibly a tube to the band. I had previously played with Jeremy (Holcombe) in the Ghostown Phantoms so I asked him and he joined right at the same time the drummer bowed out. We’ve been a duo ever since.”
Being a duo gives the band a level of flexiblity and authenticity in their journey to embrace styles of the past. “Panhandle Blues is a gumbo of sorts,” says Riggs of our their style. “Having listened to a bunch of Piedmont, Delta, and Country Blues it seemed natural to mix them together. Throw in some traditional Jazz, Gospel, Cajun, Hokum, and Jug Band and you’ve got what we call Panhandle Blues.”
As they gentlemen were getting ready for the blues compettion, Riggs was excited to connected with old friends and was, “stoked to play on the same street the Memphis Jug Band used to play back in the day.”
Although Sprearmen Brewers didn’t win the competition, they were looking forward to making some new connections through the event. They hope to expand their touring radius further through the south and are working on their fourth studio album; “Victrola Blues”, which is slated to be releassed on Record Store Day, April 21.
Learn more about Spearman Brewers and their show schedule at http://www.spearmanbrewers.com/.