KIRBY KELLY Crowned Guitar Center's King of the Blues
Posted by Michael Mueller on November 16, 2009 at 1:53 PM
On Thursday, November 12, in front of a capacity crowd at House of Blues in Hollywood, CA, Kirby Kelly of Sherman, Texas, beat out more than 4,000 guitarists to be crowned Guitar Center's 2009 King of the Blues. In the final round, Kelly competed against four other undiscovered blues guitarists to a panel of celebrity judges that included Jimmy Vivino of the Tonight Show Band, Elliot Easton of The Cars, blues legend Hubert Sumlin of Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, renowned blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Steve Lukather of Toto, and Dweezil Zappa, among others. You can see video of his winning performances below.
Hosted by Grammy-Nominated blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the event was a celebration of guitar and the music—the blues—that has defined and influenced generations of musicians and all of today's popular music. Grammy Award winning producer and guitarist Pete Anderson kicked-off the show with a set of red-hot blues, which was followed by the King of the Blues final competition where each of five contestants fronted a vintage black tuxedo-clad live band lead by Pete Anderson. Performing to a live rendition of 1 of the 25 official King of the Blues backing-tracks, the five contestants also were required to perform a two-minute solo-performance on a Gibson acoustic guitar to display their ability to master two major aspects of the guitar. Following the contestants' performances Guitar Center's King of the Blues Finals culminated with an electrifying performance by blues great Joe Bonamassa, who invited a series of surprise special guest musicians to join him on-stage for an exclusive jam that included Sumlin, Lukather, Vivino, Easton, and Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.
A life-long blues player, Kelly has been playing the blues for his family and friends for years, and this victory was his crowning moment on the long road to being named Guitar Center's King of the Blues. Kelly was awarded an impressive package of prizes, including $25,000 cash, along with a Gibson '59 Les Paul reissue guitar, a $2,500 Levi's shopping spree, a Marshall Vintage Modern 50 watt half stack, a Boss GT-10 Guitar Multi Effects Pedal, a feature in Guitar World magazine, worldwide distribution of their music in iTunes and more, plus endorsement deals from Ernie Ball, Marshall Amplification, VOX Amplification and Gibson. Additional regional, district and local prize packages were also awarded, thanks to the generous support of Gibson Guitar, Levi's, Ernie Ball, Marshall, Boss, VOX, Guitar World, and TuneCore, all of whom are proud partners of Guitar Center's King of the Blues.