documentingBlues at The International Blues Challenge
For those of you who do not know, Jenn Ocken is not only a huge Blues music fan, but also a well respected photographer in the Blues community. For the past 12 years, Jenn has been attending The International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, Tennessee as a volunteer and a photographer. For the past 2 years, Jenn has been working with Greg "Slim Lively" Johnson to self-publish the first ever book about IBC entitled "Blues on Beale Street: Memoirs of The International Blues Challenge." The book was sent to print just in time to be released at this year's IBC, which happened to be last week. Jenn brought me (Jordan) and our Office Manager Jess to Memphis with her to help with the release, and to experience IBC for ourselves!
The book's release was much anticipated and it could not have gone smoother. We were flooded with compliments and book sales, both for people and for kids interested in music. (20% of the book's preorder sales benefited The Blues Foundation's Generation Blues Fund.) With the help of these book sales, Jenn & Greg were able to put a copy of the book in the hands of all 103 Youth Showcase Participants at IBC. About 89 of these books were funded by random strangers, musicians, parents, and more. We are still looking to raise money for the last 15, and you can help by getting a book for a kid at www.documentingblues.com/IBC
Being a social media enthusiast for both myself and documentingBlues, we were able to document most of the week with our iPhones! We had a blast meeting new people and listening to some great live music. There really was no better person to attend The IBC with than Jenn Ocken. Re-live the week with some of the photos below, and stay tuned for more photographs from the VIP Release party in an upcoming blog post! -Jordan Hefler
Special thanks to:
- Greg Slim Lively Johnson for being my partner in crime
- Jordan Hefler & Jessica Losee for being fan-freaking-tastic
- Daniel Masters of Silly Goose for making the VIP Release Party a success
- Joe Whitmer & Jay Sieleman of The Blues Foundation
- Tracey Tozier, Lisa Hume, Dave & Sheree Hughes, Ghost Orchid Films, & Priscilla Hernandez for the over the top book donations to the kids
- Steve Mack, Kelly Thornton, & Peter Sloane for always having a camera in our face!
- Jonn Del Toro Richardson, Sean Carney, Micah Kesselring, Brandon Santini, Lionel Young, Karen Lovely, Teeny Tucker, Michael Frank & Michael "Hawkeye" Herman for sharing their beautiful talents with us at the VIP Release Party
- Annette & Ron Cargioli, Linda Collier, & Adam Cargioli for being our merchandise pushers at the VIP Release Party
- Chris, Bob, & Noah Ocken for representing the Ocken Fam, Jessica Royer Ocken for editing the book, & Patrice Ocken for helping edit marketing material & all the rest of the Ocken Fam for your love and support!
- Sherry Hamilton for running around and making sure we were fed and taken care of during IBC sales
- Paige & Scott Smith & Donna Van Hoover for providing an excellent brunch and their support for promoting the book
- Ali Fowler for getting us in contact with Earl Farrel and getting us on the radio on KWAM990 Memphis!
- Cindi James of The Blues Foundation for your love and support during merch sales
- Carolyn Ray, Doug Gay & Nick Garrison of Baton Rouge Music Studios for providing back line and support through the Indiegogo Campaign
- Vinny Marini, Son Jack Jr., Spike Stephan, & Wild Bill Kenton for your major support in radio promoting pre-sales of the book
- Mark Puskarich from Blues for a Cure, Mick Kolassa, Randy Oxford, & Brandon Santini for donating CD's to help support our mission
- Lila Ruhland for being our beautiful documentingBlues poster child (Carrie & Andrew too)
To all the people who preordered on the Indiegogo campaign & the documentingBlues website: Y'all believed in our project and its mission before the book was even done!
To everyone who bought a book for themselves & for a 2015 IBC Youth Showcase Participant
Congratulations to the IBC 2015 Winners!
Jenn & Greg getting interviewed by Vinny Marini's show "Music on the Couch"
Kids from the Spa City Blues Society receiving their books
Jenn's first signature
Jenn & Greg on stage at Club 152 on Beale plugging the book
Joe Whitmer, Producer of IBC and Greg seeing the book for the first time
Every Post It is the name of an artist that needed to sign the book
Jenn & Shirley Waring on Beale Street
Jenn distributing books to Paula Harris!
Mick Kolassa, Jenn & Vinny Marini
Jenn & Lionel Young, who's band is on the cover
Jenn & Jay Sieleman of The Blues Foundation
Fiona Boyes' donation card when she got a book for a kid
Jenn with fellow photographer Steve Mack
Micah Kesselring with his photo in the book
Jordan, Jess, Lisa & Jenn on Beale Street
Jenn with the Brat Pack's pianist
Making friends on Beale Street
Vinny Marini of Music on the Couch
Jenn with members of The Brat Pack on Beale Street
Jenn & Greg by the merch table
Jess & Jordan holding down the Merch table up at Club 152 2nd floor
Jordan & Jess at Memphis' oldest restaurant, Arcade
Beale Street after the rain
Ben Rice receiving "Best Guitarist" award at Finals! Ben's story is featured in the book.
Jordan & Micah Kesselring with his photo in the book
Mick Kolassa signing one of the CD's he donated to help support our mission!
Jenn with Australian Youth Showcase band Third Time Round
"Thanks again so much for the books, the photographs are absolutely beautiful! You are an exceptionally talented photographer!" -James Shepherd, Third Time Round
Jess making book sales in the lobby of the Orpheum Theatre during finals
Jordan with a coat hanger, after she and Jess got locked out of where they were staying (unsuccessful)
Micah Kesselring posing for some Instagram promotion
Jenn with Sheree Hughes, after Sheree & her husband David vowed to get books for kids
Jess, Jordan & Jenn at the VIP Release Party at The Silly Goose
Rebecca & Jenn at Rum Boogie on Rebecca's birthday
Jenn & her brother Chris at South of Beale on Main!
Beale Street after the rain through Jordan's eyes
The Brat Pack performing at Finals!
Rebecca on Beale with a Blues enthusiast
Selfies in the "Mood Elevator"
Kids from Baton Rouge Music Studios receiving their copy of the book
Nick Garrison, Doug Gay & Carolyn Ray from Baton Rouge Music Studios