Local men win singing competition

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Jason Blankenship and Ryan Preddy were named winners in the recent Texaco Country Showdown, on Aug. 17. The contest is hosted by local radio station KTHS, a country music station out of Berryville, Ark. The duo will now move on to compete in the state finals held in Little Rock, Ark., during the state fair on Oct. 20. Whoever wins at that level will compete regionally, then nationally.

Ryan Preddy and Jason Blankenship, both of Cassville competed in and won the local level of a national singing competition.

The Texaco Country Showdown, started 30 years ago, held its first round of local competitions on Aug. 17. The contest is hosted by a local radio station. KTHS, a country music station out of Berryville, Ark., held the competition at the Pine Mountain Theatre in Eureka Springs.

Ryan and Jason have been singing and performing together locally for a couple of years as the "221 Band."

"Ryan plays acoustic guitar and I play the box," said Blankenship. He explained that the "box" is an acoustic rhythm and percussion instrument called a Cajon.

The duo has been friends since youth and share a love of music and perform all genres.

"We play a lot at Jersey's. We will try out new stuff there and mix songs," Blankenship said. "That's our home crowd, and we are really comfortable there."

The band has also played for hire at venues in Branson, Springfield and Eureka Springs, Ark., as well as locally.

Though the competition was a good opportunity for them to meet other musicians and test their skills, they entered the contest for personal reasons.

"I listen to KTHS on the radio every day to hear the news, when I heard about the competition," said Blankenship. "I knew Ryan needed to enter. Before his wife, Mary, died, Ryan had made a promise to her and their son, Bowen, that he would do something with his music."

Ryan, who has also played bass in the local band, "4 n a Corner," is also a songwriter.

"When I asked him about entering the contest, Ryan said, 'let's do it!'" So, Ryan and Jason, accompanied by a few local fans, went and performed. There were three local celebrity judges along with 14 other competing singers and bands.

During the competition, Ryan sang two songs, with Jason as back-up with the box and providing harmony.

Appropriately, Ryan sang, "Mary's Song," a tribute to his late wife, and a local favorite, "Cold Can," an upbeat country song.

The duo will now move on to compete in the state finals held in Little Rock, Ark., during the state fair on Oct. 20. Whoever wins at that level will compete regionally, then nationally.

The Texaco Country Showdown has had high profile competitors in the past, such as Martina McBride, Garth Brooks and Jason Aldean.

Ryan, who owns and operates Slinkard's Salvage and RPM, and Jason, who is a certified auto detailer at Les Jacob's Ford, are excited to have the opportunity to compete again.

"We are just having fun," said Jason. "Creating and playing music is what we love."

To find out where "221 Band" is playing, follow them on Facebook, or call Jason at 342-0694.

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