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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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Event calendar
Friday, Mar 22, 2019


MUSIC

East Coast In Lullaby @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

LIONEL RICHIE @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

Swingadelic Featuring Rob Paparozzi @ Roys Hall (Blairstown), Blairstown - 8:00pm

Carolyn Messina at Table 42 @ Table 42, Dover - 7:00pm

Tom Chapin with Dan Pelletier at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

Finding Neverland @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Music of Cream @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm

Summer of Love IX @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

WARRANT @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville - 6:00pm

Selwyn Birchwood @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Mamma Mia @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Native Gardens @ Eagle Theatre, Hammonton - 8:00pm

The Source by Jack Canfora @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

Sassy Mamas presented by Dunbar Repertory Company @ Middletown Arts Center, Middletown - 8:00pm

CURIOUS GEORGE: THE GOLDEN MEATBALL @ The Growing Stage: The Childrens Theatre of New Jersey, Netcong - 7:30pm

Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 7:00pm

Ken Ludwigs The Gods of Comedy @ Matthews Theatre @ McCarter Theatre, Princeton - 8:00pm

Theo @ Marion Huber Theater @ Two River Theater, Red Bank - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Comedy Night at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm


FILM

Hairspray Sing-Along with host Jeremy Grunin! @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 8:00pm


KIDS

Celebrate Holi @ iPlay America, Freehold - 4:00pm

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