Blues Column

Blues Column

Sometimes it feels like we’re stuck down here in the antipodes, miles from the action of the mainstream blues scene. But it’s not so! The 31st International Blues Challenge is on in January 2015, and it’s time to get ready! The Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society has called for bands and individuals to nominate for our Victorian Blues Challenge. The aim of MBAS is to find the best possible blues band/artist(s) to represent the MBAS and Australia in Memphis Tennessee, USA at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) each year.
Previous entrants sponsored by the MBAS have included Rod Paine’s Fulltime Lovers, Andrea Marr Band, Dreamboogie, Sweet Felicia and the Honeytones, Collard Greens and Gravy and Fiona Boyes, all of whom have played down here. The 2015 International Blues Challenge will be the 31st year of blues musicians from around the world competing for cash, prizes and industry recognition.
This, the world’s largest gathering of blues acts, represents an international search by The Blues Foundation and its affiliated organisations for the blues band and solo/duo blues act ready to take their act to the international stage. In 2014, 255 acts from 40 states of the USA and 16 countries (and four continents) entered, filling the clubs up and down Beale Street for the quarter-finals and semi-finals and then the finals at the Orpheum Theater. From those 255 acts, it came down to eight solo/duos and nine band finalists competing for the top prizes before an esteemed panel of judges.
There are prizes for three top bands, plus the Gibson Guitarist Prize (top guitarist among band finalists). For duo/solo entrants, there are prizes for the top two acts, plus the St. Blues Guitarist Prize (top guitarist among solo/duo finalists). There is also the Lee Oskar Harmonica Player Prize (top harmonica player among semi-finalists) and the prize for the best self-produced CD. Last year the winners came from the USA and Canada, and it’s about time we gave that a shake.
The IBC expects at least as many acts in 2015. 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, which can be found on the Blues Foundation website as below. The MBAS will send only one act to participate in the ‘Band Category’.
The initial heats will be held in October on Monday 13th, Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th at the Royal Standard Hotel, 333 William Street, West Melbourne. The finals will be held on Sunday, October 19 at the GH Hotel, St Kilda. If you are entering make sure you have no other gigs on the days of the heats or finals.
The MBAS will pay for up to two musicians’ airfares and accommodation. The fundraising for this is largely done by a set of benefit gigs in and around Melbourne. Depending on the success of these gigs, the MBAS has the discretion to pay for additional airfares and accommodation.
PBS FM is the major supporter and provides substantial radio coverage for the whole event. Full details, conditions and entry forms are available on the MBAS website.
mbas.org.au
blues.org/international-blues-challenge/2015-international-blues-challenge
By John (Dr John) Lamp