Sep. 23—LUBBOCK — John Sprott has been playing the guitar for about 59 years now and if there's one brand of music the 64-year-old Lubbock resident enjoys playing the most, it's the blues.
Sprott and his band, known as the John Sprott Band, will get a chance to entertain hundreds of bluegrass lovers Saturday at the Tall City Blues Fest at The Destination in Midland.
And while Sprott has been picking for decades, the John Sprott Band only started five years ago.
"There was an opportunity to play at a certain venue in Lubbock, and they were looking for something that was beyond the normal cover band stuff," Sprott said. "They were looking for something that was 'artistic.' A musician friend of mine said that we should get a blues band going because it's a style of music that I've always loved. I thought it would be a good thing if we could get something together. It expanded out of that, and that's how we got going."
This weekend will be the band's first time playing at the Tall City Blues Fest.
"We're super excited," Sprott said. "As a matter of fact, I'm working desperately to get a CD done in time for that. ... It's a race against time. I don't know if we'll get it done, but we're trying."
Over the years, the band has had the opportunity to play at numerous concerts and festivals around Texas and even in Memphis, Tenn. This year, the John Sprott Band had the luxury of playing in blues country at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis back in May.
The competition represents the worldwide search for blues bands and solo/duo blues performers ready for the international stage, yet just needing that extra big break.
It is the world's largest gathering of blues musicians which takes place on Beale Street with more than 20 clubs hosting the challengers and fans.
To qualify for the International Blues challenge, a band must participate in and win a local challenge sponsored by a current Blues Foundation affiliated blues society.
Sprott and his band were able to qualify after winning the Greater West Texas Blues Society's "BYOB" Challenge last fall in Midland. The group ended up making it to the semifinals on the international stage.
"We just went out there and competed in Memphis," Sprott said of the International Blues Challenge. "We went out there and played a two quarterfinal round and managed to get to the semifinal round. It was an absolute gas, and it was an inspiration for trying to get an album out for original blues music. It was a unique thing to be involved with. Things like that tend to have cynical, profit-drive motives, but there's also an artistic, altruistic component to it that I really found inspiring."
For Sprott, getting the opportunity to compete in Memphis was something he'll never forget.
"I'll tell you what, the thrill of getting to play for crowd after crowd of people who are there to see your kind of music and there to witness a performance of that specific genre of blues music, was an absolute thrill," Sprott said. "Also, just to be on Beale Street, walking around with audience members and musicians as well was so neat. It's neat to feel vitality in this genre of music that I really care about since I've started playing guitar when I was 11 years old."
With the band's new album coming out, Sprott is hopeful about getting a wider audience.
"I don't think we're going to be a full-on, hit-the-road touring band, but you never know," Sprott said. "I'm 64 years old. I've already done the riding the van around and playing at different clubs in the Midwest. I don't shut the door on anything, but my goal right now is to get the band out and get the music out. For me, the most important part is getting the music out there."
Regardless, Sprott has always been a fan of playing the blues.
"You know, I fell in love with blues guitar playing and that's a big part of what pushed me to learning guitar," Sprott said. "I found all the different styles of music that I play have an element of the blues in them. Even for most of my music career, I haven't been in a dedicated blues band like this.
If you go
— What: Tall City Blues Fest
— When: 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24
— Where: The Destination in Midland
— Where to purchase tickets: tinyurl.com/n69pe6u5