Seven blues bands from around southern Wisconsin took the stage at the Wisconsin Blues Challenge. Each band had just half an hour to strut their stuff in front of the judges. Judges scored bands on a set of established criteria; the top three bands won prizes and the first place band will represent Wisconsin in the 24th International Blues Challenge to be held in Memphis in early 2008.
The International Blues Challenge (IBC) has been held annually by The Blues Foundation for more than 2 decades. The goal of the IBC is to seek out the best undiscovered blues talent in the United States and beyond. The 23rd IBC, held in February 2007, included more than 150 competing bands. Many now well‑established blues greats have competed in the IBC over the years including Susan Tedeschi, Slick Ballinger, Tommy Castro, Albert Cummings, Delta Moon, Diunna Greenleaf, Watermelon Slim, John Weston and Michelle Wilson.
The Madison Blues Society (MBS) is dedicated to increasing awareness, understanding and appreciation of Blues music in America's musical heritage. MBS works to expand the presence and vitality of the Blues in the Madison area through promotional events, educational programs, and strengthening links between the community and local musicians.
And don't forget the other great contestants. Everybody put in a really great performance and deserves your support!
Wisconsin's Governor Jim Doyle has issued a special commendation to Bobby Bryan and the Original Downtown Players, winners of the April 15, 2007 statewide First Wisconsin Blues Challenge. This Certificate of Commendation congratulates the band and outlines the substantial competition that they expect to be up against in Memphis with 160 competing acts from "6 continents, 11 countries and 36 states and the District of Columbia." Quite a challenge, indeed!
The Madison Blues Society offers our own congratulations and sincere appreciation for the terrific job that the band has done and expects to do as they represent Wisconsin at the end of this month in Memphis. Those that are lucky enough to be going down to Memphis will be cheering them on in the Beale Street clubs on Thursday 1/31 and Friday 2/1. We are all really hoping to see Bobby and the band bringing us great Blues at the Finals in the Orpheum Theater on Saturday 2/2. The best of luck to Bobby and the band!
"After months of preparation doing research with other blues societies and the International Blues Foundation, our Blues Challenge came to fruition flawlessly. Some thought it was going to be an impossible feat. Oceans of thanks to the Madison Blues Society members and the Blues Challenge Committee who contributed in every aspect of getting this off the ground, and seeing it through to the end. Of course, thanks again to the bands, who played to a crowd of several hundred. One of the musicians (whose band did not win) called the event phenomenal. There were many comments of praise. I hope the word will spread, and make next year's competition even bigger. If you love the blues, plan part of your vacation schedule for the IBC. We'll keep you informed."
Thanks again to all,
Catherine De Valk,
Madison Blues Society, President 2007
P.S. Bobby Bryan & the Downtown Players plan to bring home the IBC winner title in 2008!