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Will This Be The Next King Of The Blues?

By Gary Wien


Last year, Guitar Center's "King of the Blues" was Matt O'Ree who hailed from Monmouth County, New Jersey. The Garden State hopes to hold on to its crown for a second straight year thanks to Rob Baumiester, a 24-year-old guitarist from Deptford who will be competing in the finals after beating out thousands of guitarists from around the country.

The finals will be held on June 16th at the Music Box @ Fonda Theater in Hollywood, California. The remaining guitarists will compete for a prize package valued at over $50,000. In addition to the "King of the Blues" competition, there will be feature performances by The Black Crowes and a special collaborative set by Kenny Wayne Shepherd & blues legend Hubert Sumlin.
Baumiester never imagined he'd be one of the last standing. He took part in last year's competition but didn't get very far. In fact, he didn't even get out of his local store's battle.

"I actually thought I was done with it," explained Rob Baumiester. "I thought it wasn't worth entering again, but one of the judges kept telling me to come back. A year later, I was walking through the store and people were telling me that the competition was back on. They were telling me to enter again, so I just said what the heck and entered."

You won't find much about Baumiester on the web. He's played in some bands, and currently plays in a Christian rock band called Compelled and performs in his church, but you won't find a band website or even a Myspace page for him. He simply picked up the guitar when he was 13 and basically taught himself how to play.

"There was a friend of my father's that played guitar who gave me some pointers here and there for a couple of months," explained Baumiester. "But like anything else I just dropped out of it because I didn't want to be instructed, I wanted to learn how to play myself. I don't know how to read music or anything, I just learn songs by ear and pick up stuff by doing it that way."

Around the time Baumiester was a senior in high school he began noticing that his passion for music was much stronger than his friends'. His passion also led his natural ability to grow to the point where it was obvious he was better than others.

"Everybody else was into a lot of things other than music and just played guitar now and then, but for me it was something I had to do every day," he said. "I just had to do it because I loved it so much."

He's literally using this competition as his coming out party and doing it on a grand scale. If he wins he'll not only be crowned "King of the Blues" and receive tons of great prizes, but he'll receive 7 days in the studio with Grammy Award-winning producer Pete Anderson, a 20-minute set on the main stage during Eric Clapton's Crossroads Festival in Chicago on July 28th, and will be fetaured in Guitar World Magazine. In other words, Rob Baumiester will no longer be a secret.

"This is something I really didn't even think I could accomplish," admitted Baumiester. "It would be a huge accomplishment for me as a musician and kind of prove to some of the people who didn't think I could do this that I'm capable as a 24-year-old to hang with a lot of the people that are playing across the country. It's such a huge passion of mine that it would be very fulfilling for me. I consider myself blessed from God just be given a gift like this and to be given an opportunity to play with awesome people."

Some of the artists Rob's looking forward to meeting are Kenny Lee Shepherd and the Black Crowes. Shepherd was one of Baumiester's idols while growing up and the Black Crowes are one of his favorite bands.

Ironically, Baumiester only started getting into the blues over the last few years. As with many music fans, he was lured to the blues by the desire to learn more about the artists who had influenced his idols (guys like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton). From there, he began moving deeper and deeper into the blues.

"I started to realize just how much they were influenced by the blues and then I began buying those records and I just found myself lost in it," said Baumiester.



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Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.
Bickford Theatre Presents Herb Gardner's Groundhog Jam
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The great Groundhog Jam has a long history of prying jazz fans out of their warm burrows and into the chill of February weather in order to welcome the advent of spring.  The Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum continues a tradition of hosting this event on Monday, February 4 at 7:30pm. Herb Gardner, who plays both trombone and piano, is assembling a stellar group of musicians from the New York, New Jersey, and New England areas including: Fred Vigorito on cornet, Joe Licari on clarinet, James Chirilloon guitar, Mike Weatherly on bass and Robbie Scott on drums.  Daughters Abbie and Sarah Gardner will be handling the vocals and guitar.


Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!










Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


MUSIC


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

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