Having just come from the IBC Sendoff Party for Amanda Fish Band and Brody Buster, I was counting up how many times Kansas City has been represented in the finals of the International Blues Challenge. Since the Blues Foundation began sponsoring an annual band contest in 1984, Kansas City has been fortunate to have many talented musicians reach that coveted spot on stage. While not all bands reach the finals, they still get to be discovered by new fans, sell CDs, and network with music industry folks.
The contest was first termed an “amateur” one but later was termed for "unsigned bands." Over time the rules have been liberalized even further, and the number of entries has grown significantly, although it isn’t necessarily a cause-and-effect. More blues societies have been established or have sponsored entries. In 2002 the contest established its solo/duo category which added to the numbers of entries.
At its onset the contest included only 10 or so bands, all performing in a one-afternoon, one-round competition. Compare that to 2017 when more than 260 blues acts will compete from all around the world.
About 20 clubs on Beale Street--half with bands and half with solo/duo acts-- host 2 nights of quarterfinals and one night of semifinals. The winners from each venue move on to the finals held Saturday from 1 to 7pm at the Orpheum Theater.
Here is Kansas City’s history of acts that made it to the finals. If readers can fill in any missing information, let us know!
1990 Millage Gilbert Blues Band, 5th place
1991 The Blues Notions, 3rd place
1998 Cotton Candy and So Many Men, 3rd place
2006 Noah Earle, solo/duo
2007 Levee Town
2008 Trampled Under Foot, 1st place
2008 Doghouse Daddies representing Ozarks Blues Society
2011 Mary Bridget Davies Band, 2nd place
2011 Grand Marquis representing Topeka Blues Society
2014 Katy Guillen & the Girls, 4th place