Members of the Belfast-based Juke Rockets Blues Band decided to approach the statewide Road to Memphis competition Sunday, May 20 in the same way they do when they perform at venues around the state.

“We just said, ‘let’s go in there and have some fun,'” said the band’s drummer, Tim Woitowitz of Stockton Springs.

That approach worked well for the blues band that has been together for less than a year, as Woitowitz said the foursome of himself, Carlene Thornton, Bob Strusz and Steve Mellor out-performed six other musical acts from across the state to win the title of the best blues band in Maine. The competition was held at the Auburn American Legion Hall.

The Maine Blues Society hosts the Road to Memphis competition annually, and Woitowitz said as the 2012 winner, the Juke Rockets will go on to compete for the national title in Memphis, Tenn. The local act will head south in January and Woitowitz said he and his band mates hope to make an impression on the judges in the city that is known as the home base of music legends Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and Elvis Presley.

While Woitowitz said the competition was quite fierce, the Juke Rockets pulled out all the stops, performing all of their own works.

“We did all original songs; no covers,” said Woitowitz.

When asked how the Juke Rockets reacted to the news that they played their way to the top of the pack, Woitowitz said the news was a pleasant surprise.

“We were shocked,” said Woitowitz.

For more information about the Road to Memphis International Blues Challenge, visit

Courier Publications’ reporter Tanya Mitchell can be reached at 207-338-3333 or