On Thursday, December 20, 2018, a board meeting was convened to discuss the Robbie Antone Band's eligibility to compete in the upcoming International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee on behalf of the Great Lakes Blues Society (GLBS).
As set out in our rules posted on our web site, which all competitors are advised to read, every participant in the Road to Memphis Challenge must hold a valid Canadian Passport, and be legally eligible to enter into the United States and the winning act is expected to perform in Memphis as they competed in our final round.
It is the obligation of the band's spokesperson to inform the Great Lakes Blues Society of any situation which could cause our representative artists to be refused entry into the U.S. and to date, there has been no communication from Robbie Antone's band to indicate that there was a problem.
Despite assurances from Robbie that all band members had the proper documentation to legally enter the United States, by means of our own inquiries, we learned that one of the band members did not in fact have a valid Canadian passport; therefore, would not be able to enter the U.S. legally.
Although, there are provisions to allow a band member to be replaced with another player, these provisions are for a situation that suddenly comes up such as illness, death in the family, or accident. In this case however, this is something the band has been aware of for some time, and to date, we have still not received official notification that there is a problem.
For those reasons, and after much careful consideration of the situation, the GLBS Board of Directors has voted unanimously, with regret, to cancel the Robbie Antone Band's entry in the IBC in Memphis in January 2019 as the representative act in the band category for the Great Lakes Blues Society.
The deadline for making a substitution was Nov 20, 2018, therefore we are also unable to send the runner-up band, thus leaving us with only the Solo-Duo act as our representatives this year at the International Blues Challenge.
We deeply regret having to take this unprecedented action, but without clear intentions from the Robbie Antone Band, we had no choice but to protect the band and future entrants from the possibility of being denied entry into the United States and/or a possible lifetime ban.
Chair, Great Lakes Blues Society