The Chicago Blues Challenge is a timed, judged, and scored battle of the bands sanctioned by the Windy City Blues Society (WCBS). The WCBS is the Chicago local affiliate organization of the Blues Foundation. The Blues Foundation mandates all greater Chicagoland musical acts must first go through the Windy City Blues Society to advance to the Blues Foundation's International Blues Challenge (The IBC's).
1) Bands A band is any group with three or more musicians.
2) Solo/Duet Acts A solo/duo has no more than two musicians. Both electric and acoustic instruments are allowed in either category, and vocalists are counted as musicians for the purpose of this competition.
3) Youth acts A Youth participant is any group in which all performing members are under the age of 21 at the time of the International Blues Challenge.
4) Best Self Produced CD The Blues Foundation established an award for the Best Self-Produced CD, given out at the International Blues Challenge, as part of our mission to celebrate blues recording and to ensure the future of this uniquely American art form and to recognize excellence in independent Blues recordings. Entries for the Best Self-Produced CD are permitted by Blues Foundation Affiliated Blues Societies only.
Blues Content: The sound and feel of the music should be true to any of blues sub-categories: traditional blues, country blues, soul blues, blues rock and/or contemporary blues. Judges will be listening for inspired and original song selections or new takes on blues standards. Creative reach is encouraged.
Originality:Original work is encouraged. Cover tunes are allowed but playing the recorded rendition lick by lick is discouraged, will not be looked upon favorably by the judges, and will be reflected in scoring. Acts must indicate if their songs are their own original material (this can be done at the start of the set or before each song as appropriate) and/or identify the covers that they are playing and acknowledge the originator.
Vocals: The act’s vocal skills to include concepts of tone, musicality, meaning, and expression.
Instrumental Talent: Ability level on all instruments featured within the act.
Stage Presence:The ability to command the attention of the audience by the impressiveness of one’s manner and appearance on stage. Judges will consider how an act connects with and engages the audience in the music. Proper use of microphones and amplification will be considered.
Judges will score acts on a 10 point scale, with 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest.
1-3 Typical of a beginning blues band.
4-5 Typical of a local weekend band.
6-7 Typical of an advanced local band but not yet ready to headline a major blues club.
8-9 Typical of the quality of blues artists who headline major clubs.
10 Typical of main stage acts at major festivals like Chicago or The King Biscuit.
The following weights will be used in calculating final scores:
Raw scores for Blues Content will be multiplied by four (4)
Raw scores for Originality will be multiplied by three (3)
Raw scores for Talent and for Vocals will be multiplied by two (2)
Raw scores for Stage Presence will be multiplied by two (2)
The maximum Total Weighted Score an act may receive is 130.
1) Each judge will indicate his or her Raw Score, between 1 and 10, in each category and turn that information over to the Scorekeeper
2) The Scorekeeper will multiply the Raw Score in each category by the established multiplier to get each judge’s Individual Weighted Score in each category for each act.
3) The Individual Weighted Scores for each category will be added together to determine each act’s Total Weighted Score for each judge.
4) Any penalty points assigned will then be deducted from each judge’s Total Weighted Score to obtain the act’s Net Weighted Score for each judge.
5) After all acts have been judged and each act’s Net Weighted Score per judge calculated, each act will be ranked by judge based on that judge’s order of scores, with the act receiving the judge’s highest Net Weighted Score being given a ranking of 1, and so on for that judge. This will reveal each acts Final Ranking Number for each judge.
6) The Scorekeeper then will total the Final Ranking Number from all judges for each act to determine the Gross Final Ranking. This figure is averaged (divided by the total number of judges) to Achieve the Aggregate Act Ranking.
7) The act with the best (lowest) Aggregate Act Ranking will be the top finisher.
8) In the case of a tie, the Scorekeeper shall calculate the sum of all Net Weighted Scores from all judges for the tied acts. The band with the higher sum of Net Weighted Scores wins.
An act will be penalized one point from each judges Total Weighted Score for the following:
· Excessive time loading-in before and/or loading out after a competition performance
· Failing to acknowledge that a song is a cover and/or not giving credit to its originator
· Each ten seconds that it runs overtime during a competition performance.
· Finishing 3 or more minutes before its allotted performance time expires.
· Showing up late and/or not being ready to perform on time
· Musicians are not allowed to compete in the Chicago Blues Challenge if their names have appeared on a final Blues Music Award ballot (formerly the W.C. Handy Awards).
· Band members of a band nominated for Band of the Year in the Blues Music Awards are not allowed to compete.
(All other musicians who have had peripheral and/or professional contact through performance with a Blues Music Award nominee, including but not limited to touring band members and studio musicians, are deemed eligible in the Chicago Blues Challenge.)
Musicians may enter the IBC a maximum of 3 times, after which they are no longer eligible. They may not participate in the IBC in three consecutive years, i.e., there must be a break of at least one year after competing two years in a row.
A musician may not compete in the band category and the solo/duo category in the same year.
Any challenger, band, or solo/duo, that has won first place at the IBC in Memphis may not enter a challenge in that same category in the future.
Musician must first enter the challenge of their own/home blues society or the closest blues society based on distance. If they are not successful, they may enter the challenges of no more than 2 more blues societies in that year, provided those blues societies are within 250 miles (425 Km) of the home blues society.
Challengers are not permitted to enter the challenge of the two distant blues societies if either is held prior to the home challenge.
Musician may be invited to participate in the challenge, but they may not be “pre-selected” and must compete in a fair, live, judged event.
All members of the winning acts must attend the IBC's in Memphis. Should unexpected circumstances arise (illness, family emergency, etc) no more than one member of any act may be replaced. Violation of this rule is a disqualification and all prize monies returned.
The Windy City Blues Society will provide backline and sound. The setup on stage will include a drum kit with snare drums, amps, keyboards and mics.. Drummers can bring their own cymbals and kick pedals. Harmonica players may (but are not required to) bring their own harp amp. Keyboard players are required to bring their own keyboard and keyboard amps. Keyboard stands will be provided. Effects racks and other auxiliary equipment are permitted. Musicians must include on the online registration form any additional or special equipment needed.
In MEMPHIS Competitors are prohibited from bringing their own guitar amplifiers. Guitar players competing in Bolingbrook MUST bring their own amp. Therefore to be fair to everyone, Guitar players competing in Willow Springs may bring their own amps, although there will be quality amps supplied. (please bring your harp amps and keyboard amps in particular for Bolingbrook). Musicians should bring their own DI boxes. Every effort will be made to provide suitable equipment.
The winners of the Chicago Blues Challenge move on to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis (Jan/Feb 2023).
Prize money to the winners to help cover their trip to Memphis. Typically Bands = $1,000 -$1500, Solo/Duet $500-$750, Youth $250-$500, Best Self Produced CD = $100-$150 . prize money depends on the amount of money raised minus expenses.
Typically at least One winning act appears on WGN Morning News
Typically at least One winning act appears on KFFA "King Biscuit Time" Radio show in Helena Arkansas. They also get an opportunity to pitch themselves to one of the talent buyers for the King Biscuit Blues Festival.
The Title of " 2022 Chicago Blues Challenge Winner" that looks good to talent buyers.
The Windy City Blues Society reserves the right to use any contestant’s name, voices, pictures, visages and other likeness for the purpose of advertising, publishing and promoting the Chicago Blues Challenge, The Windy City Blues Society, The IBC's , The Blues Foundation, or the particular Village or municipality we are partnering with.
The Windy City Blues Society reserves the right to videotape or otherwise record all Chicago Blues Challenge performances. The Windy City Blues Society shall retain total ownership of all recordings and programs, and reserves the right to edit the program, the right to broadcast the program, the right to copyright the program and the right to license others to use these rights.
This is the Application for the Blues Challenge... READ IT...email us if you have questions. Download the application, Fill it out , and send it back in . This is going to be fun.
The Finals of The Chicago Blues Challenge duet division, sponsored by The Windy City Blues Society at Buddy Guy's legends on 11/10/13
Ryan Mumby and the 100 Year Rain play the finals of the Chicago Blues Challenge sponsored by the Windy City Blues Society. Took place at Buddy Guy's Legends on 11/10/2013. These cats were smoking
24 minute video , various acts
Larry Taylor Blues and Soul Band performing at the Windy City Blues Society Challenge. Chicago, 2014
The Chicago Blues Challenge , YOUTH Division presented by The Windy City Blues Society and supported by the Blues Kids Foundation presents Generation Blues, our runner up