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2016 International Blues Challenge

2016 International Blues Challenge

The 2016 International Blues Challenge will be the 32nd year of Blues musicians from around the world competing for cash, prizes, and industry recognition. The Blues Foundation will present the 32nd International Blues Challenge January 26-30, 2016 in Memphis, TN. 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. In 2015, 257 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. We will have at least that many in 2016.

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2016 Blues Challenge Program
PASSES/TICKETS – Now available at Club 152 2nd Floor from Noon – 10pm Wed-Fri

The 32nd year of the International Blues Challenge will once again include a youth showcase for those under the age of 21. The 32nd IBC will include an afternoon (Friday, January 29) of talented young people showcasing their talents for record labels, media, festivals, managers, talent buyers and the fans.

Watch this page for further information. Email if you have any questions.

The week of events will once again kick off Tuesday night with the International Showcase in several venue son Beale Street. In addition to the evening Blues competition, the days are filled with seminars and workshops and topped off in a moving Friday afternoon 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.

The 32nd International Blues Challenge is sponsored by ArtsMemphis, Beale Street Merchants Association, BMI, Category 5 amps, Catfood Records, Gibson Guitars, Jontaar Creative Studios, Lee Oskar Harmonicas, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, St. Blues Guitars, and Tennessee Arts Commission.

Media sponsors include Beale Street Caravan, Big City Rhythm and Blues, Blues Festival Guide, Downtowner, Elwood’s Bluesmobile, Living Blues, Memphis Flyer, Music on the Couch and Offbeat.

The list of current blues artists that have competed in the IBC over the years is impressive indeed: Barbara Blue, Fiona Boyes, Eden Brent, the late Michael Burks, Sean Carney, Albert Castiglia, Tommy Castro, Grady Champion, the late Sean Costello, Albert Cummings, Delta Moon, Larry Garner, Joey Gilmore, Diunna Greenleaf, Zac Harmon, Homemade Jamz Blues Band, Richard Johnston, Robin Rogers, Matthew Skoller, JP Soars, Super Chikan, Susan Tedeschi, Teeny Tucker, Trampled Under Foot and Watermelon Slim.

Winning the International Blues Challenge is better than having a $100,000 publicity budget. 2004 IBC winner and 2006 Blues Music Award Best New Artist Zac Harmon

This was my first year attending the International Blues Challenge and it was better than any festival I have ever attended. Eddie Bagwell, Tulsa Blues Society.

The amount of talent that gathered in Memphis was staggering. I have to admit it sent chills down my spine whenever I looked around and realized I was in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge and that I actually knew some of these performers on stage. Goose bump time! We were able to see 35+ IBC performers and I can honestly say everyone we saw was talented and truly belonged there. Everything we heard was pure blues, and this was one time I was glad I was not judging. Chick Cavallero, Colorado Blues Society

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.

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 Semi-Finals on Beale Street in Memphis, TN.

Affiliates are required to stage a regional preliminary IBC competition, with the winner of that competition representing the organization in the Memphis international competition. Usually, these preliminary rounds are held in clubs as part of a fundraiser or simply an excitement-building event. Each organization is free to structure the preliminary round as it sees fit, as long as a single band and/or solo/duo act is identified. However, since The Blues Foundation scoring criteria will determine the ultimate winner, we strongly encourage our Affiliates to use the same system in the preliminary competitions.

Blues Music Fan