International Blues Challenge — presented by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation, which also stages the Blues Music Awards each May — runs from Wednesday to Jan. 23 at various venues along Beale Street.
The 2010 event is celebrating its 26th anniversary with new records in terms of participants — 224 acts from 13 countries and 39 states in the USA, performing at 19 venues for crowds that are expected to number close to 10,000 for the duration of the event (compared with last year’s 184 acts, from 36 states, nine countries, 16 venues and 8,000 attendees). The week also includes seminars for music professionals and a “Keeping the Blues Alive” awards ceremony.
“One of the biggest challenges we’ve had to deal with has been the growth,” says Jay Sieleman, president of the Blues Foundation. “It’s a good problem to have, but it keeps you from just being able to plan the same way twice. Because each year there are more acts, more facets to the event, more venues, more judges, more volunteers, more hotel rooms, and all of that to deal with.” For Sieleman, the evolution of the Blues Challenge is measured by more than just numbers, but also by the quality of the performers. “Absolutely, the quality and the variety has increased considerably over the years,” he says. “We’ve often told the judges that their hours are much longer now, but the quality is better. And they all agree. Judging the competition gets harder and harder each year.”
We understand that participation in this event means not just meeting people, seeing old friends again, and playing some music together, but also moderate stress, full concentration and absolute giving it all up onstage. We know our strengths, and we are more than ready to present them!
Some of the U.S.blues artists who have performed with us at the Bite’s Blues Club are in the International Blues Challenge Entrants list either.
Good Luck to all of us!
More info on the International Blues Challenge can be found at www.blues.org