Big Road
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Big Road

Band Blues Acoustic


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"Trio Triumps in Blues Challenge"

For immediate release, Oct. 3, 2007
For more information, contact Casey Hazelman
(336) 508-5787


In a weekend of blues competition that featured seven acoustic acts, Big Road Blues, a stripped-down three-piece band from Ashville, NC captured first place in the 2007 Blues Challenge, sponsored by the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society. The event was held at The Clubhouse, 435 Dolley Madison Road, Greensboro, on Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30.

Owen Poteat, a solo one-man band from North Wilkesboro finished second. Coming in third was Matt Nozzolio, a solo acoustic artist who traveled all the way from Meriden, CT to compete in the Blues Challenge.

As winners of the annual Blues Challenge, Big Road Blues will represent the PBPS in the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in early February in Memphis, TN. The IBC is the annual competition presented by the Blues Foundation of Memphis,

Big Road Blues will also appear at the 22nd annual Carolina Blues Festival, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 3rd, 2008 in downtown Greensboro.

Two-thirds of Big Road Blues (vocalist/percussionist Peggy Ratusz and guitarist Duane Simpson) had entered the 2006 Blues Challenge and made it to the final rounds. This year they added harmonica player Scott Craver.

“I met Scott at a blues jam,” Ratusz said after a three-song encore following their being crowned Blues Challenge winners. “Me and Duane already knew each other, of course. With Scott being the ever-perseverant one, we decided to get together and give [the Blues Challenge] a try.”

On winning the competition on their second try, Ratusz said, “It feels awesome, wonderful. Especially among so much great talent. We were so happy to see that most of the entries were solo or acoustic.”

Indeed, this is the first time ever in the history of the Blues Challenge that a full-on electric blues band with a drummer did not finish in the top three.
- Press Release

"Big Road Headed to Memphis"

Big Road headed to Memphis: But first, the local acoustic blues trio will make a stop at Hannah Flanagan’s
by Laura Blackley , take5 Correspondent
published October 26, 2007 12:15 am
Local acoustic blues trio Big Road is making a mark around here — and on the road, too. The group, featuring notable chanteuse Peggy Ratusz, recently won big at the 21st annual Blues Challenge, held in September in Greensboro.
The band’s first-place finish means it will be traveling to Memphis in February to the International Blues Challenge. With the band playing next Thursday at Hannah Flanagan’s in Asheville, we got the story from Ratusz.

Question: Who else is in Big Road with you?
Answer: Big Road is an acoustic trio. Duane Simpson plays guitar, Scott Craver plays harmonica and sings, and I sing and play some percussion. These guys are awesome — awesome players and awesome kids! I’m like their mom.
Q: How would you describe Big Road’s influences?
A: We hearken back to Delta blues days, especially in the material we cover. I’m trying to write more originals in that style, too, like Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Johnson and Ma Rainey, to name a few.
Q: How does it feel winning the Piedmont Blues Challenge?
A: I’m 50, you know. I think,‘Why couldn’t this have happened earlier?’ But really, winning it with these guys, these loving, talented and caring guys was great. They bring a lot of creative juice. It felt awesome, wonderful. Especially among so much great talent. We were so happy to see that most of the entries were solo or acousti. (according to the Piedmont Blues Society Web site, this was the first year in the history of the event that a full-on electric blues band with a drummer didn’t place in the top three finalists).
Q: What’s next?
A: We’re going to definitely ride this wave. We’ve gotten some nice feedback and nice gig offers out of (winning) this. As soon as we save enough money, we’ll make a record. We hope to have a five-song demo done in Memphis.
Q: If you had any advice to give about singing the blues, what would it be?
A: Just feel it and express it. Don’t be afraid to feel it and express it. It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake, as long as it’s authentic — and your audience can feel it when it’s authentic and real.

- Asheville Citizen-Times

"Nestled In House Concert"

The “ruby throated” Peggy Ratusz’s vocals “wrings the blues out of every single syllable” while harmonicist, Scott Craver “brings new meaning to the mouth organ.” At 6’6”, guitarist Duane Simpson’s “skills are long on meaning and intuition.

She’s fresh from her first big big-time blues festival in June, Riverbend ’07 in Chattanooga, where she performed with legends such as Earth Wind & Fire, Alan Parsons, Ricky Skaggs, and dozens of others. In this concert, Peggy’s latest efforts tend toward an intimate acoustic blues sound, with her three instrumentalists, Scottt Craver on harmonica, Duane Simpson on guitar, and Mike Rothaker on upright bass.

- Perry Steinhoff


Crowd Around the Mic Vol 12 - WNCW's Live in Studio B compilation CD - Big Road track I'm Lost Without You selected, distributed by WNCW Radio.
Peggy Ratusz - There's Nothin' the Blues Can't Heal is Peggy's sophomore effort of 13 tracks; 10 of which are original, blues infused tunes. Release date scheduled for Winter 2009.
It Takes a Lot of Faith (12 songs, all original -independent release available at CD Baby, ITunes, Band Village)being played on WNCW Spindale, NC, WPKN Bridgeport Connecticut, No Talk Radio streaming, Radio Muse, Rootstime Blues Radio, Chattanooga's JuiceRadio.
Peggy Ratusz's single entitled, Sexual High picked by Jomar Records for Women In Blues compilation CD (released Nov, 2007)
Joshua Singleton: A Crow and a Dove released 2009 and recorded in Nashville, this all original record is getting rave reviews.
Duane Simpson - 10 Songs (all original, instrumental guitar available at gigs)



2008 Semi Finalists at the 24th annual International Blues Challene in Memphis, TN. 2007 winners of Piedmont Blues Preservation Society's Blues Challenge. Voted Best Blues Band 07-08 in the Western North Carolina "Best Of" Reader's Pole. Big Road carries on the legacy of Delta Blues, as the soul of this timeless music is in the capable hands of this award winning 3 or 4 piece group. Their distinctive arrangements of Traditional Blues is matched by their captivating original material. Expressive and award winning vocalist, Peggy Ratusz...."wrings the blues out of every syllable" Duane "Do right" Simpson on guitar, "is as long on style as his 6'6" frame...." Joshua "Harp Throb" Singleton "....brings new meaning to the 'mouth organ." Together they attract audiences again and again to their intimate live performances.