From Mauston to Memphis: Mauston alumni to perform at the International Blues Challenge

January 05, 2018

Memphis - Blues musician, 19-year-old Kyle Roberts, last January moved from his hometown of Mauston, WI, to Memphis, TN, to pursue a career as a professional artist while surrounding himself with the sights and sounds of the deep history of the blues. In October, the Memphis Blues Society selected Kyle to represent them at the International Blues Challenge (IBC). The five-day event takes place on Beale St. in Memphis. This year's challenge starts on January 16, 2018, and runs through January 20, 2018.

The IBC represents the worldwide search for those Blues bands and solo/duo Blues acts ready to perform on the international stage, yet just needing that extra big break. Each Affiliate of The Blues Foundation has the right to send a band and a solo/duo act to represent its organization at the IBC.

Roberts, as the Memphis Blues Society's youth performer, will be showcased alongside other youths from across the globe. The Youth Showcase is the chance to hear the next generation of great blues artists as they hone their talents in order to take the bigger world stage of the future. Youth Showcase performances will lead directly into the Semi-Final rounds of the IBC.

"It is an honor to take part in the showcase and to be representing Memphis, known worldwide as the Home of the Blues. This all is mind-blowing to me. The pressure is real," stated Roberts.

Roberts arrived in Memphis at the end of January 2017; "I packed up my old van with as much as I could fit, including my brother, Justin, and my best friend, Gabe. We started out in a little studio apartment and lived on the little bit of money we were able to save. Within a month all three of us secured jobs at A. Schwab's on Beale Street. That retail job has put me right in the center of the Memphis Blues scene. It is a dream come true," he stated.

Within days of arriving, Roberts took the stage at the Hard Rock Cafe for a Memphis Music Matters monthly showcase and has since performed at additional Memphis Music Matters showcases. In May, he was featured on Memphis Radio's Blues and Booze show in an hour and a half long interview.

Roberts is a self-taught guitarist. He also plays the trumpet and some piano. He performs originals as well as covering songs from the greats. He style is often compared to a modern Muddy Waters.

"People always ask me how this kid from Wisconsin got into the Blues. The true story is one day when I was nine years old I met a homeless man who played for me some jazz and blues and since then I have been hooked. It is the music that speaks to me. It is real. It is me."

He is a 2016 graduate of iLead Charter School and credits the school for providing the right foundation for him to walk out on and take the risks needed for a life as a musician. Mauston High School Band Director, Roger Spindler, is one of Kyle's mentors.

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Twitter - @kyleroberts1998