The 27th International Blues Challenge brought artist from 40 states and 13 countries together to compete and entertain in multiple venues on or near Beale Street. The competition which began with quarterfinals Thursday with more than 200 acts led up to Saturday’s finals where 8 bands and 8 solo/duo acts performed in the Orpheum for top honors.
The winners were:
1st: The Lionel Young Band representing the Colorado Blues Society
2nd: The Mary Bridget Davies Group representing the Kansas City Blues Society
3rd: Rob Blain’s Big Otis Blues representing the Windy City Blues Society
1st: George Schroeter & Marc Breitfelder representing Baltic Blues from Germany
2nd: Harris “Sweet Taste” Kennedy representing the Canal Bank Shuffle in Ontario, Canada
The Best Guitarist Award: Rob Blaine of Rob Blaine’s Big Otis Blues
Best Harmonica Player: Stephane Bertolino of the band AWEK
Best Self-Produced CD: ‘Get Inside This House’ by Joe McMurrian
The Memphis Blues Society was represented by Vince Johnson and the Plantation Allstars and solo performer Valerie June. Both acts made it to the semifinals. In the youth showcase, which is not a competition, the Memphis Blues Society was represented by harmonica player Brandon Oneal Bailey.