Captiva Band to compete in Miami for Tobacco Road blues competition
When you think of great blues musicians, who comes to mind?
Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Winter…and, perhaps, the Captiva Band? That’s what island resident, real estate agent and Captiva Band guitarist Marty Stokes is aiming for.
Stokes and his five fellow musicians will be heading to Miami next week to compete with 12 other blues groups for a coveted spot in the “International Blues Challenge” in Memphis, Tenn.
The preliminary battle of the bands will determine which of the 13 groups will be able to call themselves the best band in South Florida and represent the South Florida Blues Society at the January challenge. The competition is set to take place at Tobacco Road, the world’s oldest blues joint and Miami’s oldest restaurant (established in 1912) beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 19.
In addition to snagging the title of “Best Blued Band in South Florida,” the winners will also receive a $1,000 cash prize.
Adjudicators from the South Florida Blues Society will be judging competitors on originality and blues content — “It can’t be some pop spinoff,” said Stokes.
The Captiva Band has been spreading their authentic blues style from Fort Myers Beach to Captiva for the past six years, despite a lack of demand for the genre in Southwest Florida. “We’re basically a blues core band — we do a lot of really groove-oriented, funk stuff, but there aren’t a lot of pure blues venues on the west coast. We perform at Doc Ford’s and Nervous Nellie’s on Fort Myers Beach, the Jacaranda on Sanibel, Bert’s in Matlacha and The Crow’s Nest on Captiva,” Stokes said.
Stokes said he started playing blues music when he was 14.
“My dad was in the military so we were overseas. He did three tours of Europe, and when I was in Germany, I was hearing the blues everywhere, and that’s when I started playing it,” Stokes said. “I gravitated toward that style and that’s kind of stuff I was listening to and playing, and I developed a deep appreciation for that genre.”
Stokes continued to work on his blues sound throughout his adolescent years and into his early twenties, citing major musical influences such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream, both of which created music heavily rooted in the blues tradition.
“But when I got married, I decided I didn’t want that kind of lifestyle for my family – coming home at one and two in the morning. But once the kids were raised and gone from the house, out came my
guitar,” Stokes said.
The Captiva Band as it is today — consisting of Stokes on guitar, Michael Baer on keyboard, Todd Haut on bass, Carv Clauson on drums, Lisa George on the microphone, and Jennifer Mazziotti on sax, all of whom provide vocals of some kind for the band — was originally called the Blind Pass Band.
“But then we found out there was another band out of the Naples/Marco Island area called Blind Pass, so we changed the name,” Stokes said.
But when Stokes was in his twenties, he had a blues/funk group called The Captiva Band, and since the name was free at the time, he and his bandmates jumped on it.
In the Sept. 19 competition, the Captiva Band won’t just be representing the tiny barrier island — they’ll be representing the entire west coast of Florida.
“We’re the only band from the west coast that’s playing there and the other bands are so talented,” Stokes said. “But we’re going to keep it fun even though the competition is going to be stiff. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and making new contacts.”
But even if the Captiva Band isn’t quite what the judges are looking for, there will be another judging based solely on what the audience thinks.
“Whoever wins the house vote will win a paid gig at Tobacco Road — so we need people who are willing to make the trip to Miami to fill the house and vote for us!” Stokes said.
Islanders that are interested in going to Miami to witness the assemblage of the most talented blues musicians in South Florida — and, of course, to support the Captiva Band — can go to www.Tobacco-Road.com or call 305-374-1198 for more information.
Tickets cost $10, or $8 for members of the South Florida Blues Society. The competition starts at 2 p.m.
Tobacco Road is located at 626 South Miami Avenue in Miami.
To learn more about the Captiva Band, go to www.CaptivaBand.com.