'Blown away' by the blues.

AuthorDuckett, Richard

Byline: Richard Duckett

The Selwyn Birchwood Band

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 17

Where: Club Symply Fargone at Viva Bene, 144 Commercial St., Worcester

How much: $20. (978) 833-9698; www.symplyfargone.com

Selwyn Birchwood has a deep and expressive voice that sounds like it was born to sing the blues while also possessing his own gritty and often witty trademark.

How did the 29-year-old from Tampa, Florida, acquire it?

"I'm not sure -- just try to work with what I've got,'' said Birchwood, calling it like it is. On his 2014 CD, "Don't Call No Ambulance,'' Birchwood's original songs and smart lyrics are also propelled by his driving guitar playing (including lap steel), the constant forward motion of Regi Oliver's saxophones, persuasive percussion (Donald "Huff'' Wright, bass; Curtis Nutall, drums), as well as some great turns from guest artists. The first track on the album, "Addicted,'' sets the tone on several levels and in the best possible way.

Actually, Birchwood's own immersion into the blues was partly accidental, but once he was in, there was no turning back.

The Selwyn Birchwood Band has been on the road constantly since winning the prestigious International Blues Challenge (beating out about 125 bands from the U.S. and abroad) in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2013.

The band takes a turn into Worcester for the first time when it will perform at 8 p.m. Jan. 17 at Club Symply Fargone at Viva Bene, 144 Commercial St.

Birchwood is regarded as a blues up-and-comer and has "a huge future,'' according to Bruce Iglauer of Alligator Records, which signed Birchwood after the International Blues Challenge win and released "Don't Need No Ambulance'' in June. Birchwood has since been nominated for a Blues Music Award for "Best New Artist Debut'' (the awards ceremony will be held in Memphis in May).

"That was a really great launching point for us,'' Birchwood said of the International Blues Challenge. "A lot of good things are happening.''

Birchwood and the band are performing full time -- "all we do is travel and play music with the schedule we have,'' he said during a telephone interview from Tampa just before the group was about to get in a van and drive north.

Nevertheless, Birchwood also possesses undergraduate and MBA degrees from the University of Tampa. Is this a case of "just in case''?

"I've kind of always been academic. That's where my family pushed. I continued my education, if nothing else, as a personal challenge. I was doing it hoping I would never...

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