GRANTS PASS, Ore. – A local blues musician gets the opportunity of a lifetime – to compete in an international music competition in Memphis, the blues capital of the world. But that dream was dealt a blow when he discovered that all his instruments and equipment had been stolen.
Grants Pass resident Phil Newton and his band partner David Pinsky competed as a duo at the Eugene Blues Society for the chance to make the trip.
The two normally perform in separate bands. Learning how to play together, and as a two-piece unit, was no small challenge.
“He and I simply honed our act as a duo and worked on that for about a year to get the parts to fit right,” said Newton.
But after winning the prize this fall, the unthinkable happened. The two were performing a gig at a Selma bar. When Newton pulled up to the bar he went to get his gear from his truck, but discovered it empty.
“We were doing the fundraiser to go to Memphis… I turned around to get my harmonicas and they were gone, along with the mics and everything else,” said Newton.
Newton says he isn’t concerned about the money – the equipment is insured after all. But some of it is one-of-a-kind.
“Some of the equipment that was stolen I can’t… I can’t replace,” said Newton. “It’s one of a kind of stuff, and has huge sentimental value as well.”
But not sentimental enough to stop him.
Newton has played and admired the blues ever since he was a kid. Whether borrowed or backup, he says he’ll find what he needs to compete.
“I bought the tickets today,” said Newton. “We’re on our way, the hotel rooms are reserved!”
The Memphis International Blues Challenge kicks off in January.
Until then you can catch Phil Newton and his band, Broadway Phil & the Shouters, playing gigs all over the valley to raise money for the competition.