The Blues Foundation will host its 33rd Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, from January 31, through February 4. Musicians from around the globe will compete for cash, prizes, and bookings as they are judged the best in IBC categories, including Band, Solo/Duo, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica Player, and Self-Produced CD. The Challenge’s alumni include such acclaimed musicians as Susan Tedeschi, Tommy Castro, Delta Moon, Trampled Under Foot, Sean Costello, and Grady Champion.

Historic Beale Street will be the site for each of the challenge rounds, opening with the International Showcase on Tuesday, January 31, 2017; quarter-finals on Wednesday, February 1 and Thursday, February 2; and the Youth Showcase and semi-finals on Friday, February 3.

The final round of the competition will be held in Memphis at the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, February 4, beginning at noon.

In addition to live blues performances, the five-day-long IBC will also present a variety of lectures, seminars, workshops, film, networking events, a silent auction, and affiliated blues society receptions for blues music professionals and fans alike.

While the International Blues Challenge looks to the future, The Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Awards honor those individuals and institutions that have helped to keep the blues going strong.

“Our 2017 Keeping the Blues Alive recipients are all wonderful examples of blues flame keepers, each working in their own sphere of influence to move the genre forward while honoring its past,” says Blues Foundation President and CEO Barbara Newman.

These honorees, who will be recognized during a luncheon on February 3, represent record labels, music festivals, recording studios, clubs, radio stations, publications, and individuals who are committed to preserving and sustaining blues music as an art form.

The 2017 Keeping the Blues Alive Awards recipients are:

Baltimore Blues Society


Blues and Soul Records

Kathy Bolmer

Briggs Farm Blues Festival

Kyle Deibler

Greaseland Studios

Highway 99 Blues Club

Jay Miller

Jacques Morgantini

James Nagel

Porretta Soul Festival

Steve Salter

Eddie Stout

Susan Swanson

WGLT radio

Wolf Records

The International Blues Challenge is sponsored in part by ArtsMemphis, AutoZone, Beale Street Merchants Association, BMI, First Tennessee Foundation, Gibson, Lee Oskar Harmonicas, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, Saint Blues Guitar Workshop, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Tennessee Arts Commission, and VividPix & Design.

Media sponsors include Beale Street Caravan, Big City Rhythm and Blues, Blues Festival Guide, Blues Matters!, Downtowner, Elwood’s Bluesmobile, and Living Blues.

More information on the International Blues Challenge can be found at

Passes to the IBC for the entire week’s events are $100 and add-on tickets for the Keeping the Blues Alive luncheon are available online at or by calling (901) 527-2583, ext. 10.