Peoria's Smokers Blues Band member Hal Duckett recently stopped by the GLT Studio's to talk with Jon Norton about band's debut album, titled "Roads Less Traveled." He also talked about their recent trip to Memphis representing Peoria at the International Blues Challenge.
Duckett says his brother introduced him to Blues through his record collection. But he says he REALLY got the Blues ... in his car. He says he was driving home from St. Louis ... and was listening to WGLT on his car radio.
"I was like 'what is that!' Then I realized it was a local station, but I was disappointed because it (the blues) wasn't on all the time. "
Duckett says he also fell in love with "Delta" Frank Black, GLT's legendary Blues DJ.
"What a character, I kind of fell in love with him and the station at the same time. Now it's kind of surreal to be talking on the radio station where I cut my teeth on the blues."
Duckett says he's late to The Smokers Blues Band. He joined in time to travel with the band to compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, an annual competition pitting representatives of blues societies across the country against each other.
"Our goal when we did the local competition was to get the blues 'out there' in the community and the Peoria area, to just compete just to represent the area. When we won, we thought 'Now what are we going to do? We're going to Memphis!' It was an amazing experience the first night. We were all jitters and nerves. But once we got past the first night, we relaxed. There were just so many talented musicians down there. I could LIVE on Beale Street!"
Duckett said overall the band was well received, but said The Smokers Blues Band style of blues didn't fit what the judges were looking for. He says there were looking for bands with a front man and sidemen playing more traditional blues music.
"And that's not The Smokers. If you come see The Smokers you'll see right away that it is a dichotomy where everyone is a diverse talent. Everyone sings, everyone's involved. We're kind of an eclectic jam band blues sound. A big group from Peoria came down on a bus and gave us great support for the second night of competition."
Click below to hear Duckett's entire conversation with Norton, including his praise for fellow band members and his thoughts on the evolution of blues music.