This weekend more than 130 blues acts from across the country and overseas will descend on the proving grounds of Beale Street for the biggest battle of the bands in the blues world. Sponsored by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation, the 22nd Annual International Blues Challenge promises to be the biggest ever, with a record number of acts playing semifinal events at 16 Beale Street venues Thursday and Friday night for a chance at one of the 16 slots at the solo/duo and band finals Saturday. Each act at IBC has already won a preliminary contest sponsored by one of the foundation's affiliated blues societies, such as East St. Louis' Alvin Jett & the Phat noiZ Blues Band (pictured), which will represent the St. Louis Blues Society. Recent IBCs may not have produced household names, but they have introduced compelling new blues acts in the form of Southeastern roots enthusiasts Delta Moon, California's juke-worthy Zac Harmon, and Memphis' Richard Johnston. See Blues.org for more information.
International Blues Challenge, Thursday, January 26th-Saturday, January 28th, in and around Beale Street clubs. Solo/duo finals 2 p.m. Saturday at the Center for Southern Folklore. Band finals 8 p.m. Saturday at the New Daisy Theatre.