N.B. bluesman wins international competition

New Brunswick bluesman Matt Andersen has won the International Blues Challenge, a Memphis music contest that drew musicians from 12 countries.

New Brunswick bluesman Matt Andersen has won the International Blues Challenge, a Memphis, Tenn., music contest that drew musicians from 12 countries.

Andersen, known for his soulful voice, won the top prize in the solo/duo category Saturday at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis.

The contest sponsored by the U.S.-based Blues Foundation draws musicians nominated by blues societies to compete for best singer, best band and best self-produced CD.

Andersen, who was sponsored by the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in Fredericton, triumphed over finalists from Mississippi, New York and Texas.

He is expected to build his international reputation with the win. His prize includes large-profile American festival gigs, festivals in France and Italy and a slot on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruises, as well as a cash award.

Born in Bairdsville, N.B., and now based in Halifax, Andersen's recent CDs include Matt Andersen: Live from the Phoenix Theatre and Piggyback, by Matt Andersen & Mike Stevens.

He made his name doing blues covers but has moved into original music. Well-known in East Coast music circles, he has also successfully toured the U.K.  

The top prize in the band competition was awarded to Grady Champion of the Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola.