Local 2011 IBC Competitions Heat Up Worldwide by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

Posted on 8/30/2010 by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

Feb. 1-5, 2011

Local competitions are taking place everywhere to determine winning contestants to travel to Memphis for this year's International Blues Challenge sponsored by the Blues Foundation. Over 185 affiliate Blues societies will be hosting regional preliminary competitions and sending contestants in the band, solo and duo, and youth categories.

Don't miss your chance to compete this year during February 1-5 in Memphis, Tennessee, Home of the Blues and headquarters of the Blues Foundation. Blues fans, professional musicians, industry professionals and representatives of recording labels will all gather for this yearly spectacle which has grown into a massive enclave of musical performances and the initiation of new, up and coming Blues stars to the constellation of the Blues pantheon.

Orpheum Theater, Main and Beale Streets, from

This year, the IBC will move to a four day format, 2 days of quarter finals (Feb 2-3), one day of semi-finals (Feb 4) , concluding with finals in the beautiful Orpheum Theater (Feb 5).

From the Blues Foundation's website,

"The 2011 International Blues Challenge will be the 27th year of Blues musicians from around the world competing for cash, prizes, and industry recognition. The Blues Foundation will present the 27th International Blues Challenge February 1-5, 2011 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 2010, 110 bands and 80 solo/duo acts entered, filling the clubs up and down Beale Street for the semi-finals on Thursday and Friday and the finals at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday. We will have at least that many in 2011.

Michaela Rae performs on Memphis television during the 2010 IBC
Michaela competed in the youth category of the IBC

The 27th year of the International Blues Challenge will once again include a youth showcase for those under the age of 21.
Smokin' Bluz of Charlotte, NC has signed on again as the Presenting Sponsor. The 27th IBC will include an afternoon (Friday, February 4, 2011) of talented young people showcasing their talents for record labels, media, festivals, managers, talent buyers and the fans.

Laura Chavez, Barbara Blue, Candye Kane at the 2010 IBC

The week of events will once again kick off Tuesday night with a Meet & Greet hosted by the Beale Street Merchants Association at the New Daisy Theater, followed by the FedEx International Showcase.

Michaela Rae with 2010 KBA Journalism award winner David Fricke of Rolling Stone

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."

Email Joe Whitmer if you have any questions.

Joe Whitmer of the Blues Foundation runs operations at the 2010 IBC

American Blues News will be covering every day's events of the 2011 International Blues Challenge and provide live reporting from several reporters as well as daily updates to provide unmatched coverage to our audience of worldwide blues fans. Join us each day at

JOIN the Blues Foundation today! Click here, it's easy: Join


Here's just a smattering of the excitement generated by local and regional competitions and their announcements:

Smoky Mountain Blues Society

Do you have a band or know of a band that might be interested in competing in the 2011 International Blues Challenge!!?? We are signing up bands NOW!! Our judges will select a winning band/ a duo or solo and a child band to send to Memphis early next year!! Labron & LA3 were finalists this year!! Let's show up again!! Call 973-0408

Southern Fried Blues Society-North Carolina

Attention NC Blues Bands and Musicians
Compete in the 2010 TBS Blues Challenge and Qualify to compete in the 2011 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. Win a paid performance at one of the 2011 Bull Durham Blues Festival events. Receive money to travel and compete in the 2011 International Blues Challenge (note: you must attend the IBC to receive this money) and more prizes TBA. 2010 TBS Blues Challenge Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 Berkeley Cafe 217 West Martin St., Raleigh, NC. This is a qualifying event for the Blues Foundation's International Blues Challenge (IBC)) in Memphis, TN. Winners in the band and solo/duo categories will be eligible to compete in the IBC (Feb. 2011). The TBS Blues Challenge is a professionally judged competition open to North Carolina blues acts.
Solo/duo acts and bands have until August 31 to get their application in and compete in the TBS Blues Challenge.

Atlanta Blues Society

Attention Musicians!!!

The Atlanta heat of the International Blues Challenge is
right around the corner. This year’s challenge will be on September
19th at Mudcatz Bayou Bar & Grill. Get your sponsor now and email to your application. Applications and entry
...fees are due by September 10th....

Prizes are as follows: Band - $1,000; Youth - $500; Solo/Duo - $300;
People’s Choice - $250. Don’t miss your chance to go to Memphis to
represent Atlanta in the IBC! Contact Kelli Stripling at with any questions or concerns.

Golden Gate Blues Society
Congratulations to the winner of the final Golden Gate Blues Society preliminary round of the International Blues Challenge: TIP OF THE TOP! It was a wonderful day of music with Brothercat, Alabama Mike, and Tip of the Top. Come join us at the FINALS on November 7 (location and other details to be announced) to cheer on JC Smith, Twice as Good, Wendy DeWitt, and Tip of the Top!! Congrats ALL!
South Florida
We'll be there at Tobacco Road in Miami on Sunday Sept. 19th---the competition will be 'stiff' but we plan to rock the house!
Location: Tobacco Road
Time: 2:00PM Sunday, September 19th

Chicago-Windy City Blues Society

You are invited to participate in the 2010 Chicago Blues Challenge (CBC), a musical competition for Chicago area blues musicians. The winner of this competition will represent the Windy City Blues Society in Memphis this February at the 2011 International Blues Challenge (IBC).

There are three divisions for the competition:

  • Band Competition
  • Solo / Duo Competition
  • Youth Showcase

WCBS commits to supporting the musicians by sponsoring them at the IBC. WCBS will provide a portion of the musician’s travel expenses to Memphis for Band and Solo/Duo, amount to be determined.


  • Musicians must be from the Chicago area or primarily perform in the Chicago area
  • Musicians must not have previously been listed on the final ballot for Blues Music Award (formerly known and as W.C. Handy Award). NOTE: If a musician was on the final ballot as a sideman or part of a band, they ARE eligible.
  • Performers must make a commitment to representing the Windy City Blues Society and Chicago at Memphis from February 1, 2011 through February 5, 2011
  • Performers can only compete as a band leader in one division
  • Performers can be a sideman with more than one band but the sideman must disclose that they are working with more than one band to each bandleader and the WCBS
  • Youth category only: All performers, including sidemen must be under the age of 21 as of the start of IBC (February 1,2011)


  • Applications for solo/duo and youth must be received by September 1,2010
  • Application for band competition must be received by September 15,2010
  • Chicago Blues Challenge Finals, Chicago, IL, November 7,2010
  • International Blues Challenge, Memphis, Tennessee February 1,2011 – February 5,2011


  • For more information on the Windy City Blues Society, please see our website You can find more information about the Windy City Blues Society and the Chicago Blues Challenge on our Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter sites.

Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin hosted his annual blues jam on Beale Street
at the Rumboogie Cafe during the 2010 IBC

Colorado Blues Society

Third Colorado Blues Society (CBS) International Blues Challenge is TODAY ---->Sunday from 2 PM-7PM: Boulder Outlook, 800 28th St, Boulder. Bands include The Bobby K Blues Band, Blue Recluse featuring Shawntel Royale, The Taylor Marvin Band, The Lionel Young Band, The Mighty Jivesters, and Boa & the Constrictors. Winner advances to the finals on Sept 12. The CBS winner is entered in the Blues Foundation IBC Finals in ... See More February in Memphis. $5 cover charge. Hope to see you there!!!
Non-profit organization supporting the blues in Colorado. Provides blues event calendar, venues, newsletter article submission, photo gallery, membership.


© photographs and text by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms,2010

American Blues News Staff

What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

Mon: Memphis Correspondent - Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
Nighthawk is our resident globetrotter and man behind the scenes, as he tours with the Reba Russell Band.

Tues: New York Correspondent - J. Blake
Blake is the American Blues News review and interview guru. You may catch him out and about in NY playing the blues.

Wed: National Correspondent - Monica Yasher
Monica is our executive director and artist interview specialist. You can catch Monica singing the blues around Pittsburgh or working on some country music songs in Nashville.

Thurs: Washington, DC Correspondent - Virginiabluesman
Geraldo offers inteviews and reviews. You may have seen him at an Ana Popovic concert or conversed with him on her websites, as he offers administrative support with her music.

Fri: Northeast Photographer - Nelson Onofre
Nelson offers a Friday column of blues photography and pictorial support for the interviews covered by the team.

Jim Stick in Colorado
Jim will be focusing on the Blues Festivals in the beautiful state of Colorado, and the artists that live and visit there.

Maureen Elizabeth, our resident art correspondent, will be focusing on blues art as she explores the creation of CD covers, or speaking with artists who also have a love of creating pictorial art in addition to their music! She may also feature some of her good friends in the Pittsburgh area. In her love of art, you may find Maureen's photography accompanying writer's articles on our pages. Maureen is also our marketing director.

Pittsburgh correspondent and photographer, CR Bennett, will share the Pittsburgh scene with all of you. You may also see CR's pictures accompanying other writer's articles.

We head to the big state of Texas! Abby Owen, our Texas correspondent.

Another big area to cover, the West Coast with Casey Reagan, Casey will feature many artists and events on this ocean's shores.

Lastly, we have our roving blues entertainment writer,
Chef Jimi.

And of course, we will surprise you sometimes!

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