The Blues Foundation held its 29th annual International Blues Challenge this past week, January 29th through February 2nd, 2013 in Memphis, Tennessee. The IBC represents the largest gathering of blues musicians in the world; the 2012 event brought in over 200 acts from around the globe and when all the counting is down, the 2013 event is expected to set a new record for participants.
The International Blues Challenge honors artists with awards in three categories: band, solo/duet, and "Best Self-Produced CD." Performers for the challenge are chosen by local blues societies to participate, and the performances were held at different venues along historic Beale Street in Memphis. Taking the top honor in the band category this year is the Selwyn Birchwood Band, sponsored by the Suncoast Blues Society in Florida. Second place went to Michael van Merwyk and Bluesoul, sponsored by the German Blues Network, while third place was awarded to Dan Treanor's Afrosippi Band with Erica Brown, brought to the dance by the Colorado Blues Society.
Sponsored by the Atlanta Blues Society, Little G Weevil took first place in the solo/duet category, beating out runner up the Suitcase Brothers, who were sponsored by the Barcelona Blues Society in Spain. The competition for the "Best Self-Produced CD" always features a number of strong contenders, and this year's award was earned by Steve Hill for his album Solo Recordings, which was sponsored by the Montreal Blues Society.
Selwyn Birchwood also took this year's "Gibson Guitarist Award," winning himself a sweet custom Gibson ES-335 guitar (sporting The Blues Foundation logo) and Category 5 amplifier. For more information on the International Blues Challenge, check out The Blues Foundation website.
Selwyn Birchwood Band photo courtesy The Blues Foundation