Blues fans from around the world are traveling to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge. This annual event put on by the Blues Foundation continues to grow and has turned into a vacation destination for many blues fans.
One is given the opportunity to see many blues acts before they make the big time.
In 2012, 119 bands and 86 solo/duo acts entered, filling the clubs up and down Beale Street for the quarter-finals on Wednesday and Thursday, the semi-finals on Friday and the finals at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday. There will have at least that many in 2013.
The 29th International Blues Challenge will begin Tuesday Night (Jan 29) with the FedEx International Showcase. Bands visiting from other countries are given a chance to perform for the fans before the scoring begins. Then Wednesday and Thursday nights (January 30 & 31), the quarter finals will be conducted on Beale Street.
On Friday (Feb 1) the Youth Showcase and Semi Finals will be held. Saturday (Feb 2) IBC will conclude with Finals in the beautiful Orpheum Theater.
The week of events will once again kicks off Tuesday night with a Meet & Greet hosted by the Beale Street Merchants Association at the New Daisy Theater. A variety of foods from Beale Street is made available and one has the chance to talk with bands and fans that are in town. This is followed by the FedEx International Showcase.
In addition to the evening Blues competition, the days are filled with seminars and workshops and topped off in a moving Saturday morning brunch in which the Blues community will honor its own with the prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) awards that honor the men and women, who have made significant contributions to the Blues music world, in 20 categories such as journalism, literature and photography and to the best clubs and festivals, as well as managers, promoters and producers.
You also have the time to get out and sample some of the Memphis food. BBQ of course is present in many places. Another favorite spot is Gus’ Fried Chicken, spicy and tasty. Rachel Ray, Guy Fieri, and the Travel Channel list it very high on the fried chicken scale.
The 2013 International Blues Challenge wi
ll be the 29th year of Blues musicians from around the world competing for cash, prizes, and industry recognition. The world’s largest gathering of Blues acts represents an international search by The Blues Foundation and its Affiliated Organizations for the Blues Band and Solo/Duo Blues Act ready to take their act to the international stage.
The 29th year of the International Blues Challenge will once again include a youth showcase for those under the age of 21. The 29th IBC will include an afternoon (Friday, February 1, 2013) of talented young people showcasing their talents for record labels, media, festivals, managers, talent buyers and the fans.
The list of current blues artists that have competed in the IBC over the years is impressive indeed: Slick Ballinger, Barbara Blue, Fiona Boyes, Eden Brent, Keith Brown, Michael Burks, Sean Carney, Albert Castiglia, Tommy Castro, the late Sean Costello, Albert Cummings, Delta Moon, Larry Garner, Joey Gilmore, Diunna Greenleaf, Zac Harmon, Homemade Jamz Blues Band, Richard Johnston, Joe Moss, Jason Ricci, Robin Rogers, Matthew Skoller, Super Chikan, Patrick Sweany, Susan Tedeschi, Teeny Tucker, Watermelon Slim, the late John Weston and Michelle Wilson.
The IBC has evolved into the nation’s biggest and most respected showcase for Blues musicians ready to take their act to the national stage. The IBC is a judged “Battle of the Bands” in which competitors take the stage and play a short set for a
panel of judges. The acts are judged based on an established set of criteria.
The IBC represents an international search by The Blues Foundation and its Affiliated Organizations (mostly blues societies) for the Blues Band and Solo/Duo Blues Act ready to perform on a national stage, but just need that extra break. Each Affiliate of The Blues Foundation has the right to send a band and solo/duo act to represent the organization at the IBC.
The Connecticut Blues Society has been sending a band and a solo/duo act to Memphis for a number of years now.
The Rich Badowski Blues Band and Steve Balkun will be representing the state this year. Affiliates are required to stage a regional preliminary IBC competition, with the winner of that competition representing the organization in the Memphis international competition.
In Connecticut, many of the best bands in the state take part and gives an insight into the great talent here.