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    An Interview with Joey Gilmore
    by Pete "Blewzzman" Lauro © April, 2005


BM: Joey, I have known you close to 25 years now and during that time, besides me being a major fan, we have also become very good friends. Therefore it is a pleasure for me to be doing this interview, my first ever, with you. On behalf of Mary, myself and of all of the visitors to www.Mary4Music.com, we want to thank you for agreeing to this interview, at a time that has been quite stressful to you, in the wake of the IBC ordeal.

JG: Thank you Pete.

BM: Joey, if you don't mind, I'm going to go straight to it, Let’s talk about the IBC incident.

JG: It’s quite alright, let’s talk about it.

BM: OK Joey, tell me how you feel about the whole situation. Let’s hear your side of the story, Please.

JG: The title was taken away from me because of a technical error that we were not aware of. We took for granted that ten years meant ten years. They didn't specify that the rule had to be from a certain date to a certain date. We subtracted 1995 from 2005 and came up with a ten year difference, thinking we were eligible. There was a six month overlap we did not take into consideration.

BM: You're talking about a national CD release earlier in your career, right Joey? And I believe the rules stipulate you must not have a CD released within the last ten years.

JG: Yes, that’s right and I did release a CD during 1995.

BM: So that’s what you were referring to when you say you subtracted 1995 from 2005 and came up with ten years. However, the rules specify that it should be within a calendar year, such as Jan 1, 1995 to Jan 1, 2005, is that correct?

JG: Yes, that’s correct. Unfortunately they used August of ’95 to August of ’05. Had they used January to January, we would have been eligible, we only missed by a few months.

BM: I understand Joey. The question that now arises in my mind is who’s responsibility was it to actually verify if you did or did not qualify? Was this something that you and your people needed to check out prior to entering you or was this the responsibility of the Blues Foundation itself?

JG: We basically felt that it was their responsibility and we wish that they had disqualified us prior to entering the contest, because we spent a lot of our own money to pay our own way there. I feel it was their responsibility to check that. I was told by some of the other people that they You're have time to do that because there were too many acts to check out, so they took your word for being correct. But it was just a mistake because as I said, we felt ’95 to ’05 was ten years. We failed to check close enough to check for the correct dates. As a matter of fact, we don't even know who would go searching out that type of information in the first place.

BM: Well Joey, apparently the second place finisher was concerned enough to check out that information a little closer than you did, but we won't go there.

JG: Exactly

BM: Joey, there has been quite a bit of feed back on this issue. Being involved in the blues community, I've been the addressee on many of the emails that have been flying back and forth on the subject. Most of it had seemed to be in your favor, but a good portion was not. On the other hand, there are those who have been defending the Blues Foundation also - and rightfully so. As far as I know, that whole office consists of two very hard working people, Jay and Wesley. They feel that it was up to each individual to follow the rules. My take on this is that if the Foundation is running this event then they should be responsible for the rules being followed.

JG: Not only did we assume that, but we had people from other agencies say to us that they had checked out the information for us and it was OK for us to enter. Using their information, we entered. These were people from inside the foundation, people who were board members. Someone had checked out that information for us.

BM: OK, when you say someone, especially a board member, are you prepared to say who?

JG: It was a person that was acting as one of my agents that is very well know to the Blues Foundation.

BM: Well, it’s obvious that I am not going to get a name out of you, but what you are saying is you were given misinformation, from a Blues Foundation board member and this was the cause of all the problems?

JG: Yes, that’s right. However, I prefer to not use the word misinformation. We were given the green light based on the way they viewed it. They assumed the time period as we assumed it 1995 from 2005 equaled ten years.

BM: So what it looks like we are dealing with here is an interpretation issue, correct? Some people read something and thought this while others read the same thing and thought that.

JG: That’s exactly it.

BM: Well Joey, we and everyone else can talk about this till we're all 100 years old and it’s not going to change. The Blues Foundation made their decision and they are sticking with it. They have stripped you of the title and have passed it on the second place finisher who is now the official winner. Are you prepared to now just put this behind you and live with their decision and use this publicity to the best of your advantage?

JG: Yes, I am. I never had any notions or intentions of fighting the decision. I accept it and my thought with myself is I am who I am and they can never take that away from me. You can take away the trophies and the titles, but you can't take away the fact that I won that competition.

BM: That’s a very good point Joe, and you beat me to my next question. Unfortunately, we are both old enough to remember when Muhammad Ali had the Heavyweight Champion Title stripped from him for refusing to be drafted and serve in the United States Military. There were very few people in the boxing world who did not still consider him the champ. He was the so called peoples champ, and he was still getting all the big money to put on all the big fights. Do you feel, in your heart, whether legally or illegally, you still won? The judges picked you because you were the best in the competition, so does that make you the peoples champion?

JG: You are 100% right. Not only did the judges pick me, but the other contestants - the ones that lost - also endorsed me as being the best, so I will be comfortable with that for the rest of my life.

BM:: Since you don't have much of a choice and you have to live with the decision, that’s a good attitude to have. In your mind, you are a winner and will always be a winner.

JG: Yes it is. Also, my heart goes out to all the people who were on my side. All of the people who spoke out against what they felt was an injustice. I applaud them and are happy they are my friends. I am sure a lot of good is going to come out of this, I know it is.

BM: Joe, do you and your manager feel that this “near win” so to speak can and will be a tool to assist your career? Is it something you will refer to in your press releases and your promo packages?

JG: Yes, we do feel that and we will use it. As a matter of fact we have started.

BM: So you still feel that in spite of all of the controversy, that this will still have a positive effect on your career?

JG: Exactly. Our attitude is we are still the winner. Hands down, everybody knows we won. And if anyone disagrees with that, it’s their problem.

BM: Yes, but unfortunately, someone else will be playing at the Handy Awards, going on the Blues Cruise and playing at all the festival gigs.

JG: We're going to get some anyway. My new manager Jim Nestor has a lot of things going on for me. Even prior to the IBC’s we were booked to do a summer tour of Asia.

BM: Joey, as long as Nest or talking about Asia, tell me about this Taiwan connection. At the IBC’s, you were the representative of the Taiwan Blues Society. Can you tell me about your affiliation with them?

JG: Originally, we had not planned to enter the IBC competition. As a matter of fact, we did not even enter the competition that the South Florida Blues Society had to represent them. All along, we felt that we may not have qualified because of the record we talked about earlier. My band entered without me, as a three piece band, and lost. That’s when the Blues Foundation Board member that I talked about earlier said to me “you should have been in that contest”. That person was one of the agents that was working with some of the other agencies that were working on getting me bookings around the world. When she….errrr, the agent researched the information, we took their word for it that the record had been ten years ago. At that point, we started making plans for a society to represent us. To make a long story short, the Taiwan Blues Society made the best showing because they were able to make a decision without having to go through a bunch of meetings. However, they told us that although they were endorsing us, we'd have to pay all of our own expenses. We spent over $5,000 of our own money. Our goal was to just get some exposure, I never even thought about winning the contest. We wanted some record labels to get to see and hear about Joey Gilmore. As a result of the contest, we are now in negations with two major record labels right now. So definitely, a lot of good came out of the exposure.

BM: As we referred to earlier, you still will reap some of the benefits from this controversy.

JG: Yes, many of the festivals that were going to book the winners still are making offers to us.

BM: Since I was one of the judges for the South Florida Blues Society‘s competition, your absence did have me baffled. Now I understand why you weren't involved. Joey, before we close, is there anything you might like to say to the Blues Foundation. Here’s your chance.

JG: I think it would be helpful if they give a calendar span for the record issue. In other words, “If you have had a record released between this date and that date, you are not eligible” The other thing is I feel that they should not have influenced their decision based on the complaints of the loser. Their decision should have been based on how they felt about it. They should have had enough backbone to stand up for their decision. A lot of the controversy was caused by a few troublemakers.

BM: Well Joey, the time has come for all of this to be finally be laid to rest. All of south Florida is behind you and we wish you the best of luck in everything you do. Please allow me to totally change the subject and end this interview on a whole different platform. Let me give you a few seconds to tell me something about this FLORIDA MUSEUM OF HISTORY BLUES EXHIBIT. I hear that you are one of the main features of the exhibit.

JG: One day, out of the blue, I got a call from a gentleman in Tallahassee telling me about the exhibit. The title of it is “FLORIDA’S GOT THE BLUES”. They asked me to provide them with some old pictures, posters, articles and other memorabilia spanning my career and have listed me as one of Florida’s Treasures.

BM: Well Joey, you certainly are a treasure to all of your fans. Thank you very much and the best to you, your band and your manager.

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