Saturday, September 8 @4:30PM
Des Moines Social Club
900 Mulberry, Des Moines, IA

CONGRATULATIONS Rob & Tina (solo/duo) and Scotty & the Wingtips (band)! They will represent Iowa at the 2019 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

a few snapshots from the event…


4:30-4:55  AVEY GROUWS DUO (solo/duo)

5:05-5:30  FREIGHT TRAIN FRANK (solo/duo)

5:40-6:05  SCOTTY & THE WINGTIPS (band)

6:15-6:40  ROB & TINA (solo/duo)

6:50-7:15  CONCRETESLIM (solo/duo)

7:25-7:50  OTHER BROTHERS (band)

8:00-8:25  TOM BUCKMILLER & BRIAN SCHWAGER (solo/duo)

8:35-9:00  WHO’S BEEN TALKIN’ (solo/duo)

9:10-9:35  JOHN-PAUL JONES GROUP (band)

For the 25th year the Central Iowa Blues Society, in cooperation with the Mississippi Valley Blues Society in Davenport and the Southeast Iowa Blues Society in Fairfield, presents the Iowa Blues Challenge (IABC), a live music competition open to all Iowa-based blues acts and conducted in two categories: Solo/Duo and Band. Acts will be competing for cash prizes for the top three in each category, and additionally the two winners will receive recording time, opportunities for paid gigs and entry into and travel expense stipend for the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, TN in January, presented by the Blues Foundation.

The 2018 Iowa Blues Challenge event will take place on Saturday, September 8that the Des Moines Social Club, 900 Mulberry St. Weather permitting, the Challenge will take place in the Prairie Meadows Courtyard between the Main DMSC building and the Kum & Go Theater.  (Lawn chairs recommended – outdoor seating is limited.)  In the event that Mother Nature gives us the blues, the rain location is inside the Kum & Go Theater.  Doors open at 3:30 pm with the competition starting at 4:30. Admission: $15 at the door, $10 for current Blues Society members, children 12 & under free with a paid adult.

PLEASE NOTE: Because of the limited number of acts registered for the blues challenge statewide, ALL previously scheduled preliminary rounds were cancelled and all nine acts will compete at the FINALS.

2018 Iowa Blues Challenge Sponsors

Budweiser, Exile Brewing, Iowa Public Radio,
Junior’s Motel, Rieman Music, Des Moines Social Club,
VividPix & Design, Mississippi Valley Blues Society,
Southeast Iowa Blues Society and Central Iowa Blues Society.

2018 Iowa Blues Challenge Participants

Avey/Grouws Duo  (4:30-4:55) – Solo/Duo

The Avey/Grouws Duo hits hard with a soul for Blues, Americana and Roots. As the 5-piece Avey/Grouws Band, Chris Avey (Quad Cities) and Jeni Grouws (Decorah) were thrilled to represent Iowa at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis this January. Making it to the Semi Finals, they lost out to the winners of the IBC, the Keeshea Pratt Band. But still they felt they’d won. The experience and the response helped focus Avey/Grouws on finding their sound and creating their own space in the world of blues music. As an acoustic group, the Avey/Grouws Duo hits their stride, using their style and their songwriting to create music that is gritty, intimate and straight to the heart. They couldn’t be more excited to be back with so many great Iowa musicians.

Freight Train Frank  (5:05-5:30) – Solo/Duo

“Freight Train Frank” Strong has been performing Blues for many years. Frank is motivated to play like the Blues masters of old. The sound of a guitar and harmonica along with sincere vocals will release the powerful emotion of the Blues. Frank has performed with many Blues musicians, some members of the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame, and other musicians throughout Iowa. Frank is motivated to promote live music, especially the Blues for new generations of Blues lovers.  Frank manages the Botanical Blues concert series where he has performed with many Blues musicians. Frank has recently completed 12 years of presenting this unique Blues performance event for the community.

Scotty & the Wingtips  (5:40-6:05) – Band

Scotty & the Wingtips was formed in September 1989 to host a jam at a local nightspot.  The Wingtips are in their 29th year and have played at just about every venue in Des Moines, plus weddings, festivals, private parties, and have opened for such people as Junior Wells, Lonnie Brooks and Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater to name a few. The founder and leader of the band is drummer Scotty Hartung, who lays down that rock solid beat and tells the guys that he drives the bus and they all ride.  Mike Tyler is the rhythm, lead and slide guitar who’s been in the band since Day 1.  Also in the band since Day 1 is Ernie Terrell, who thumps that bass like no other. Utility man Dave Jenks, who plays sax, guitar, harmonica and has the swingingest voice of the bunch, has been with the band for 21 years.  Johnny Luna, on trumpet, flugelhorn and valve trombone, has been the brass and blowing those horns for about 23 years.  Johnny’s little brother, Dave Luna, just moved back from New Mexico to rejoin the band, which he and his brother started playing in about 1996, and these two brothers play together like bread and butter – movin’ and groovin’ and hoppin’ and boppin’ like a horn section should.  Rounding out the band on Hammond organ and electric piano is junior member Jeff Daniels, who has been in the band only 19 years.  The Wingtips’ easy-going, fun-loving style of blues is unique, energetic and just makes you want to smile.

Tina & Rob  (6:15-6:40) – Solo/Duo

Vocalist extraordinaire, Tina Haase Findlay, is a 30-year veteran of the Iowa and regional music scene.  From trailer courts to The Governor’s Mansion, from garage bands to symphonies, Tina has shared stages/opened for, among others: Robert Cray, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Johnny Rivers, Trampled Underfoot, and Bruce Katz. She gave a show stopping performance singing with Joanna Connor’s band at the 2017 Bowlful of Blues fest.  Tina is in The Iowa Jazz Hall of Fame, is a three-time Iowa Blues Challenge finalist, and in 2015, Tina and her husband, Brandon, won the Iowa solo/duo challenge.  Guitarist, Rob Lumbard, received his musical education in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa sitting in with the likes of Luther Allison, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, who played in the barrooms along Forest Avenue.  Rob has played on the same bill as The Band, Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Leon Redbone and dozens of others.  Lumbard’s release, Blues In A Bottle, won the International Blues Foundation’s 2016 Best self-produced CD award. He’s in The Iowa Blues Hall of Fame, the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and is an honorary member of the Central Iowa Blues Society. Rob has participated in the Blues In The Schools program assisting Fruteland Jackson, and Chicago blues veteran Billy Branch.

Concreteslim  (6:50-7:15) – Solo/Duo

Concreteslim, is a singer/songwriter from Rock Island, Illinois. Returning from L.A. in 2009 he began playing in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, at various venues, House Concerts, Festivals and Fundraisers, hosting Concrete 4 Cambridge in 2017 playing his original music with The Sidewalks and then The Finishers.  The last year Concreteslim has been featured on Mac 95, WQUD and KDHX St.louis, The Paula Sands Show and the upcoming PBS show State and Water.  He is in the studio now recording with his band their 3rd CD Turn Your Porch Light, with many of the songs being debuted at the Blues Challenge.

Other Brothers  (7:25-7:50) – Band

The Other Brothers are a rock & blues trio born and bred out of the Midwest.  Front man Eli Clark smokes on harmonica and guitar.  The red-hot rhythm is provided by Lorenzo Enos on bass and Jason Kadiwhompus on drums.  The band has spent the past year touring locally in support of their self-recorded debut, Rosetta.  Their latest studio effort, Born Out of Tune, is slated for release April 2018, followed by a regional tour.

Tom Buckmiller & Brian Schwager  (8:00-8:25) – Solo/Duo

Tom Buckmiller grew up in rural South Dakota and was a radio DJ at KWYR FM/AM in high school.  Now living in Waukee and working at Drake, Tom teaches in the School of Education and also teaches first year seminar called: Life in the Key of Em:  Learning lessons from the Blues. The class has produced two books featuring local metro blues musicians and fans.  The class takes field trips to Lefty’s on Wednesday to see the Butter Cow Blues Band perform to better understand the nuances of playing/listening to the blues. Tom plays guitar/sings with two local blues bands: Jimmy the Weasel and Tom Buckmiller and the Tone Tailors.  Brian Schwager grew up in Des Moines and currently lives in West Des Moines. Brian is a graduate of McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, MN.  Most recently Brian played lead guitar with the Casey Muessigmann Band (as seen on The Voice 2) and prior to that he played with Crawford County.  Brian is influenced by BB King, SRV, Walter Trout, Freddie King and Michael Bloomfield.

Who’s Been Talkin’  (8:35-9:00) – Solo/Duo

An Iowa Blues Hall of Fame and Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Billylee Janey is a guitarist, songwriter and performer who’s been compared to his own heroes: Clapton, Beck, Hendrix, even while his passionate love for music and creativity have given him his own unique style and personality. Billylee picked up his first guitar, a German Framus, during the British invasion, which shaped the direction of his future – the blues, jazz & rock.  He began recording in 1972 and his 1975 release with his blues-rock trio, Truth ‘N Janey, titled No Rest for the Wickedachieved near-cult status internationally, as well as being recognized in the Martin Popoff book, “The Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal, Vol. I: The Seventies.”  Bands that Billylee has been a member of include: Driving Wheel Blues Band, Truth ‘N Janey, Enoch Smokey, Dennis McMurrin’s Demolition Band, The Janey’s (a Ma/Pa/Son trio), Billylee Janey Band, Blue Janey, Molly Nova & the Hawk, Ernie Peniston Band, Compact 3, and now he is joined by Cedar Rapids keyboard player Jeff Craft to form Who’s Been Talkin’. Jeff has collaborated with both Billylee and his son Bryce Janey many times and has been a support player for many groups in the CR area for 40 years.  He also serves currently as the Secretary for the Linn County Blues Society.

John-Paul Jones Group  (9:10-9:35) – Band

The John-Paul Jones Group, established in 1998, continuing the tradition started in 1965-1969. The John-Paul Jones Group specializes in HEAVY BLUES. This ain’t your Great-Grandfather’s blues, but it just may be your blues. If you like traditional blues you will enjoy the traditional songs and lyrics sung by the John-Paul Jones Group. If you like blues rock, then you will enjoy the modern jam band twists the John-Paul Jones Group puts on traditional songs. If you are a hard rock, heavy metal or similar music listener, you will like the high energy and excellent musicianship the John-Paul Jones Group puts into every performance. What are you waiting for? Come Get Some… Heavy Blues.  The members of the John-Paul Jones Group are John-Paul (Jp) Jones on guitar and vocals, Sally Henry on bass, Jesse Price on bass and synth and Steven Jones on drums. For more information visit

A couple Iowa Blues Challenge nuggets…
  • The following cities are represented at the 2018 IABC: Albia, Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Decorah, Des Moines, Fairfield, Ottumwa, Rock Island IL, Ryan, Waukee & West Des Moines, demonstrating the truly statewide reach of the program.
  • The 2017 Iowa Blues Challenge Solo/Duo champion, Kevin B.F. Burt of Coralville, went on to win the Solo/Duo category at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January, as well as winning the Cigar Box Guitar award and the Lee Oskar Harmonica award – the first-ever clean sweep.  Kevin’s well-earned victory demonstrates two things that CIBS was already well aware of – that we have some pretty great blues talent right here in Iowa and that participation in the Iowa Blues Challenge has the ability to provide life-changing opportunities to our up-and-coming Iowa musicians.

For more information please contact:
Jeff Duskin, Iowa Blues Challenge Chair
(515) 494-6033