The program for the 2008 International Blues Challenge (IBC), set for January 31-February 2, 2008 in Memphis, Tennessee is now finalized. The 24th edition of the world’s premier Blues music competition will feature a record 159 acts from 36 states and 10 countries and 6 continents, with 99 competing in the band division and 60 in the solo/duo contest. For the first time ever, participants will come from Africa (South Africa) and South America (Argentina). The winners receive cash prizes, professional services and appearances at top Blues festivals.
The weekend’s events kick off early this year Wednesday evening with the Beale Street Merchants hosting a Meet ‘n Greet at the New Daisy Theater and the Memphis Grizzlies presenting four IBC participants during its Blues night at the FedEx Forum in conjunction with their NBA game against Denver. Friday is filled with seminars and workshops, including a special luncheon presentation by one of America’s great filmmakers, John Sayles, whose latest film Honeydripper is Blues-themed.
The IBC semi-finals commence at 5:00pm Thursday evening in Beale Street clubs and continue in those 16 clubs Friday evening. The ten band finalists will begin at 2:00pm Saturday afternoon at The Orpheum Theatre while the six solo/duo finals will commence at 8:30pm Saturday night at the Orpheum. The judges will also present the Albert King Award—a custom Gibson ES-335—to the most promising guitarist.
The weekend also features 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 21 categories such as journalism, literature and photography and to the best clubs and festivals, as well as managers, promoters and producers. The Blues community will recognize its peers in a moving Saturday morning ceremony at the Downtown Doubletree Hotel.
Throughout the week, The Blues Foundation will be sponsoring Blues in the Schools programming by Gary Allegretto, Spencer Bohren, and James Nixon and Shannon Williford in schools in the Greater Memphis area.
For more information regarding the 2008 International Blues Challenge or to join The Blues Foundation, log onto www.blues.org. Advance tickets are also available on the website. At all of the venues tickets will be sold at the door.