A North Grenville native is part of an Ottawa-based blues trio who won the top award at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis at the end of January. In its 36th year, the International Blues Challenge is the largest of its kind, attracting over 260 acts from all over the world. It is also a huge talent-scouting and networking opportunity for the blues industry, attracting labels, agents, festival directors, and promoters from several continents.
Jamie Holmes, originally from Burritt’s Rapids, is the drummer in the blues trio Horojo. The other band members are guitarist J.W. Jones and singer-keyboardist Jeffrey Rogers. J.W. also won an award at the festival for this year’s best guitarist.
Although the trio is relatively new (2018), J.W. Jeffrey and Jamie have already had their own successful music careers in Ottawa. Horojo was formed after the three of them jammed together after a gig in Ottawa and felt how organic playing as a group was for them. “We all knew each other and respected each other a lot,” Jamie says. “It was the perfect storm.”
In order to get the chance to compete in Memphis, they had to win their spot against several other Ottawa blues bands in a competition run by the Ottawa Blues Society. When they won, the Society helped them fundraise to pay for their trip to Memphis. Jamie says they spent several months preparing to compete in the international competition by taking into consideration the criteria set out by the Blues Challenge. They ended up bringing four original songs and one cover to the competition, hoping that they would measure up against all the incredible talent that was going to be in Memphis in January.
And they did. Horojo brought the top prize home at the beginning of February, drawing huge attention from the international blues scene, as well as local media. “Winning has catapulted us to the top of the blues radar,” Jamie says. As a result, Horojo will be playing many high-profile blues festivals, as well as working on a full-length album. “To be recognized alongside some of the biggest names in the business is a dream come true,” Jamie says.
Jamie always knew he wanted to be a musician, ever since he was a child attending Oxford-on-Rideau Public School. He is proud of his roots and is very happy to be able to bring this honour home to share with his family and friends. “There is no place that I love more than coming home,” he says. “Coming from a small little country town, it makes me even more appreciative of where I come from.”
Jamie is excited to see what is to come as Horojo continues to make a name for itself on the world stage. “The sky is the limit as far as what is going to happen with us,” he says. “I can’t wait to see what is next.”