The Road was crowded, even by its own sardinian standards, and the contest generated beaucoups of hearty blues. "Based on what we saw at the national competition, there were several bands down here that could have more than held their own," says Bluni. The Roach Thompson Blues Band won, with SoBe Blues and Big Bob and the Blue Tornadoes finishing runners-up. As any follower of the local blues scene can attest, none of these bands is amateur in the strictest sense of the word. But the National Blues Foundation accepts as amateur any band without a current album or major-label contract whose players earn less than 50 percent of their income from music. Because the members of the Roach Thompson outfit have day gigs ranging from driving trucks to teaching kids with learning disabilities, and since the band has no album in pressing or under production, they decided they could live with the amateur tag if it meant a shot at a record deal and an appearance at the W.C. Handy shindig.
Winning the award has earned the band substantial notoriety locally. Recent gigs at Club M and the Road were packed, and R.T.B.B. was even invited to participate in the Firemen's Horse Parade. It's a mighty long way from house band at a Holiday Inn (the group's first regular gig) to cruising down Flagler Street in an antique fire truck surrounded by Hooters girls, and the Roach Thompson Blues Band is enjoying the ride. Who could blame them for wondering just how much gas it would take to get a hook-and-ladder all the way to Memphis?