Cedar Rapids guitarist Jason Christensen is heading to the Guitar Center Battle of the Blues finals in Los Angeles. The final event will feature Joe Bonamassa and Dr. John, as well the nation’s top six undiscovered blues guitar players.
His journey to this particular competition started at the Guitar Center in Cedar Rapids. Each participating Guitar Center store across the country had three preliminary competitions. All contestants performed live to one of 35 original backing tracks developed by Grammy Award winning producer Pete Anderson. They were judged by three judges for authenticity, originality, skills/technique, stage presence and overall performance.
As the winner in Cedar Rapids, Christiansen progressed to district finals in Minneapolis, regional finals in Chicago and now national finals in Los Angeles on Aug. 18. In doing so, he is considered one of the best six blues guitar players in teh country after beating out nearly 7,000 other guitarist for one of these coveted spots.
The winner of the final competition will receive $25,000 and thousands more in prizes and endorsement contracts. Christiansen is the first Iowan to advance past the second round in the competition. According to Guitar Center’s website, each of the six finalists will perform with a live band and also play a two-minute acoustic solo.
For his solo, Christiansen says he will be playing a song that was written after his house was hit by the Floods of 2008. “Guitar Center, Gibson and all of the other sponsors have been amazingly generous, and I’m very excited for the final showdown,” Christiansen says.
He still plays with Scarlet Runner from time to time, but more recently he has been playing around Eastern Iowa as the guitarist and vocalist of the Jason LeRoy Band.
He is the only constant member of this guitar-based blues, soul and classic rock band. Currently he plays with Dan “DJ” Johnson on bass and Eric Douglas on drums, with other musicians joining from time to time.
Before Christiansen had children – he and his wife have two daughters and a son — his goal was to “make it” in the music industry. While on the road for a couple of weeks, though, he realized that his young daughters had practically doubled in size during the short time he was gone. So he gave up life on the road.
“I now play music for my enjoyment and hopefully to entertain and have fun with the audience. But my main focus in life is to provide for my wife, son, and two daughters,” he says.
Christiansen plays every Saturday morning playing an acoustic show with Dan “DJ” Johnson at the Village Meat Market and Café from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Because Christiansen plays regularly in Eastern Iowa, he already has a large hometown gathering cheering for him as he travels to the Aug. 18 competition.
“This has been an amazing event to be a part of,” he says. “I’m looking forward to the chance to show everyone that someone from Iowa has what it takes to go all the way.”
– Hilary Mahoney