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30th International Beale Street Blues Challenge set for January 21-25

dennis berrios
Selwyn Birchwood Band. Image by Marilyn Stringer.


MEMPHIS -- The 30th International Blues Challenge (IBC) is set to return to Beale Street January 21-25 and will feature a record 255 acts from 40 states, 16 countries, and four continents. This event is the world's largest gathering of blues acts.

The Challenge is a judged competition which includes both a band division with 125 contestants and a solo/duo competition with another 101 acts. The IBC represents an international search by The Blues Foundation and its 200 affiliated blues societies for the regional acts looking to move onto the national and international stage. The competitors and their fans will be jamming 21 clubs up and down Memphis' world-famous Beale Street with over 600 performances, including the quarter-finals on Wednesday and Thursday, the semi-finals on Friday and the finals at the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday. In addition, 21 acts with members under 21 will showcase their burgeoning talent before the Friday semifinals. The fun all begins on Tuesday with the International Showcase featuring 12 acts from outside the United States. This year, acts come from Australia, Canada, ten European countries, Colombia, and Israel.

In addition to the evening Blues competition, the days are filled with seminars and workshops and topped off in a moving Friday afternoon ceremony 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 categories such as journalism, literature, and photography and to the best clubs and festivals, as well as managers, promoters, and producers.

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Major funding is provided by ArtsMemphis and the Tennessee Arts Commission. The 30th International Blues Challenge is also sponsored by BMI, Beale Street Merchants Association, Catfood Records, Consulate General of Canada – Atlanta, First Tennessee Foundation, Gibson, Jontaar Creative Services, Lee Oskar Harmonicas, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, Reactor Watches, St. Blues Guitars, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Vividpix & Design.

The Blues Foundation is Memphis-based, but world-renown as THE organization dedicated to preserving our blues music history, celebrating recording and performance excellence, supporting blues education and ensuring the future of this uniquely American art form. Its signature honors and events--the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame, International Blues Challenge and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards--make it the international center of blues music.

Source: The Blues Foundation

Published January 17, 2014

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