All Live Performance Photos By James Wessels

The Blues Foundation’s 34th annual International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis (at various locations from January 16-20) includes expert panels, masterclasses, a documentary movie screening, a memorabilia auction, a Blues Hall of Fame memorabilia unveiling, networking events, and receptions for blues societies, fans, and professionals.

The annual International Blues Challenge sees hundreds of musicians from across America, as well as from more than a dozen other countries, come to Memphis to play in pursuit of top honors in the Challenge’s five performance categories: best band, best solo/duo act, best band guitarist, best solo/duo guitarist, and best harmonica player.

Danny Banks

Drummer Danny Banks will present a masterclass for IBC attendees on Thursday, January 18 at 2 p.m. at Tin Roof: 315 Beale Street in Memphis. Banks plays drums with John Nemeth, who is a past recipient of the Blues Foundation’s B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year award. An IBC Pass is required for entry.

The International Showcase kicks off the festivities Tuesday, January 16, at 5 p.m. at the historic Clayborn Temple, the site of numerous Memphis civil rights events during the 1960s. Beginning Wednesday evening, the Challenge’s competition shows will commence at 21 different Beale Street venues, and continue through Friday January 19, culminating on Saturday, January 20 with the IBC Finals event starting at 12 noon in the iconic Orpheum Theatre.

In addition, on Wednesday, the Blues Hall of Fame Museum welcomes John Oates at 3:15 p.m. for a book signing and conversation that is open to the public. He’ll share stories from his autobiography, Change Of Seasons, and discuss his latest CD project, Arkansas, which began as a tribute to his idol Mississippi John Hurt and was expanded to include some roots-oriented original tracks.

The Souliz Band from Tampa, Florida, performing at the 2017 IBC Finals. Photo: James Wessels.

Little Steven Van Zandt will participate in the Blues And Social Action discussion panel Thursday at the Blues Hall of Fame at 2:45 p.m. Open to the community, the panel discussion will look at how blues music can be used to create a better world. Van Zandt will talk about his work as founder and director of Little Steven’s Blues School in Norway. Panelist and moderator Mike Kappus will discuss his charitable work with the Logan and Arhoolie Foundations, and Little Village Foundation Founder/CEO Jim Pugh will address the ways he has seen blues music positively affect musicians and society, while Blues Foundation board member and HART Fund Committee Chair Dr. Janice Johnston will share the Foundation’s work to ensure musicians’ health.

Find more detailed information about The Blues Foundation’s 34th Annual International Blues Challenge, including ticket pricing and ordering, in addition to programming and events.

For schedule details, see The Blues Foundation’s IBC Schedule.

Visit The Blues Foundation at