They came to Marietta from Japan via Boston and, with any luck, The Tokyo Tramps will be representing the Mid-Ohio Valley in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge in February.
The Tramps, attendees of Boston's Berklee College of Music, took their name from Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" and have fully embraced the bluesy roots of American rock 'n' roll music.
The trio took first place in the band category at the 2010 River City Ohio Blues Competition and the "Memphis Bound Get Down" event will serve as a fundraiser to help the band fulfill a dream of playing blues music on Memphis' famous Beale Street.
File photo courtesy of Dusty Scott
The Tokyo Tramps, a blues trio from Boston, took top honors at the 18th River City Ohio Blues Competition in 2010 and will travel to The International Blues Challenge in Memphis. A fundraising benefit will be held Friday at The Adelphia Music Hall to help with the band’s expenses.
"The band drove 13 hours to Marietta to play 20 minutes, and they won the whole thing," said Steve Wells, vice president of the Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society and one of the organizers of Friday's event. "This is the whole reason we have our competition, to get bands down to Memphis to represent our area."
The Tokyo Tramps - made up of Satoru Nakagawa, Yukiko Fujii and Kosei Fukuyama - are able to represent the Mid-Ohio Valley since the local competition is open to anyone who is willing to come and play.
"A lot of the bigger cities have competitions where you have to be from within a certain radius, but we have no restrictions since we're so rural and so small," Wells said.
If you go
What: Memphis Bound Get Down, featuring the Tokyo Tramps and Bongo Joe and Little Steve-O.
When: 8 to 11 p.m. Friday.
Where: The Adelphia Music Hall at The Galley, 203 Second St., Marietta.
Why: Blues benefit to help send the bands to The International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Feb. 1-6.
Cost: $10 suggested donation.
Second-place winners at last year's local competition, Bongo Joe and Little Steve-O, will also be traveling to Tennessee to compete in the solo/duo portion of the challenge.
Friday's benefit at The Adelphia Music Hall will help to raise money for lodging, food and other expenses the bands will incur for the duration of the competition.
The River City Ohio Blues Competition, in its 19th year, will bring blues musicians from all over back to the area in mid-February. This is, however, only the fourth or fifth benefit event, according to Wells.
"It's kind of a trend that got started by some of the other competitions to get their musicians to the IBC," he said. "Twice we've had people make it to the finals but, so far, no winner."
Wells thinks the Tramps have what it takes to go all the way.
"It's ultimately up to the judges and what they are looking for, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are at least in the top 10," he said.