2023 Cincy Blues Challenge
Sunday, June 11, 2023
12:00 – 6:00pm
Featuring 10 bands and solo/duo acts with a special performance by the Blues In The Schools Band!
Come on out to the 2023 Cincy Blues Challenge and hear the best blues bands and solo/duo acts in the region compete in a judged competition. Prizes include a performance slot at this summer’s Cincy Blues Fest as well as entry into the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN in early 2024. A good showing at the international competition has helped a number of acts launch their professional careers.
This year’s competition is at a new venue – Element Eatery, Cincinnati’s Premier Food Hall, located in Madisonville. With an outdoor stage, high quality food, refreshments, entertainment, and FREE admission this event is sure to be a great time!
- Doors open at 12:00pm
- Event runs until 6:00pm
- Winners announced at the end of the competition
- Admission is FREE
- Plenty of FREE parking
- Food and drink available for sale
- Plenty of seating available
- Plenty of seating available – you may bring your own chairs, but NO tents or pets
- Rain or shine – event can be indoors in case of inclement weather
Note: Schedule subject to change
|12:40||Lady Joya Band|
|1:05||The Cat & The Hat|
|1:30||Psilocin Blues Band|
|1:55||CFG & The Family|
|2:20||Jimmy D. Rogers|
|2:45||The Gina & Johnny Band|
|3:00||BREAK for Judges|
|3:20||Jamie Carr Band|
|3:45||Change It Up Charlie|
|5:00||Blues In The Schools Youth Band Showcase|
|5:30||Winners Announced/Award Presentation|
Before entering, please read the eligibility requirements and the competition rules. It explains the competition in detail and should answer most of your questions.
- For further questions contact:
How To Enter
- Purchase the entry fee with the button below (Band – $50, Solo/Duo – $30) – The entry fee includes a 1 year Cincy Blues Society Band membership
- Include a completed application
- Include a band picture (900 x 600 pixels) and bio (600 words)
- Send by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- OR mail your application, band picture, and bio, with a check for the entry fee to: Cincy Blues Society, 1623 Dalton Avenue 141080, Cincinnati, OH 45250, Attention: Blues Challenge
- All entries must be received by May 19, 2023 – 11:59PM
Who Can Enter
An act is eligible as long as it, or any member of the act, has never received a Blues Music Award nomination.
- Any act 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 in a first or second IBC.
- Any act that placed first in the IBC may not enter in the same category in the future.
- Any act that has won first place in the Cincy Blues Challenge may not enter in that same category the following year.
- Acts must be based within a 250 mile radius of Cincinnati, Ohio. Acts must enter the Challenge of their own/home/closest Blues Society first.
- *New for 2023* – A musician may not compete in the band category and the solo/duo category in the same year.
- *New for 2023* – A musician may not compete in more than one act.
In the event that we have too many entries, the following will be used to reduce the number to an amount we can handle.
- Any entry that is ineligible to compete in the IBC in Memphis.
- Any non Cincy Blues Society member based on the order in which their application was received.
- In reverse order in which the applications were received.
- If your act is not selected to compete, your entrance fee will be refunded. After an act is notified that they have been accepted, no refunds will be given. There is maximum of 24 acts (Band and Solo/Duo) plus the Blues In The School Band.
The Cincy Blues Society retains the sole right of discretion for determining the eligibility of an act or musician.
Band – any act with three or more musicians. Vocalists are counted as musicians for the purpose of this competition. Both electric and acoustic instruments are allowed
Solo/Duo – any act with one or two musicians. Vocalists are counted as musicians for the purpose of this competition. Both electric and acoustic instruments are allowed.
Performance time is limited to 15 minutes. The time starts when the band strikes its first note. Warning cards are held up to the band on stage to inform them that there are 2-minutes, 1-minute, and 30-seconds remaining. They will also see when the time is up. It Is the act’s responsibility to plan their 15 minute performance and look for the time warning cards.
- The first place Band and Solo/Duo acts will be invited to perform at this summer’s Cincy Blues Fest.
- The first place Band and Solo/Duo acts will be eligible to compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, held in January.
- The first-place Band representing the Cincy Blues Society at the IBC will receive a $1,000 stipend to help pay travel costs.
- The first-place Solo/Duo act representing the Cincy Blues Society at the IBC will receive a $300 stipend to help pay travel costs.
- Travel stipends will be paid by check a few weeks prior to the International Blues Challenge.
- *New for 2023* – In the event that there aren’t at least two competing acts in either performance category, we will select only one overall winner (instead of one for Band and one for Solo/Duo). The overall winner will be the act with the highest score, and they may be in either performance category.
An independent panel of judges will be selected to ensure that the decisions will be above-board and indisputable. We recruit professionals in the music industry, such as music critics, club owners, or booking agents to be judges. Several of the judges may be from out of town, to further ensure impartiality. None of the members of the board of the Cincy Blues Society will be judges. If available, five judges will be scoring at all times. All decisions of the judges are final.
Day of Show Check In:
To ensure proper check-in, acts with all members present, need to check-in with Tom Thiem, Stage Manager, no later than one hour before your performance time. We will conduct an orientation session at that time. Failure for all members to check in at the appropriate time may result in a missed performance opportunity. We usually have at least one cancellation, which moves your playing time up a slot. If you’re not ready at the new start time, you will be disqualified. Please share this information with all members of your act.
The Blues Society will provide all backline gear and sound. The setup on stage will include a quality drum kit, guitar and bass amps, keyboard/harmonica amps and microphones. Drummers must bring their own sticks, brass and may bring their own snare if desired. Musicians must include on the application form any additional or special equipment needed. Competitors are urged not to bring their own amps. If you must bring your “lucky” amp, it must be listed on your application and you must tell the stage manager at check-in. The Cincy Blues Society reserves the right to approve or restrict any and all equipment an entrant wishes to bring on stage. No smoking permitted on the stage at anytime.
All personal equipment must be verified by the stage manager and/or sound techs. i.e.Amps, mics (wired or wireless) , etc.
Order of Play:
Competition slots are assigned by random drawing with exceptions allowed where special setup or other circumstances are noted on the application form. You will be informed of your time shortly after the application submission deadline.
All set up and tuning is to be done before contest time. A holding area will be provided for tuning up and practicing. No individual sound checks will be done on stage for contestants. All personal equipment must be verified by the sound techs. i.e.Amps, mics (wired or wireless) , etc.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the competition is run fairly and professionally as possible. We expect the same effort from the participants. The winning blues acts will be representing the Blues Society and the Cincinnati Area Blues Community in Memphis. Several professional careers have been launched by a good showing in the Finals. The Blues Society reserves the right to disqualify and/or strip the prizes from any band whose member(s) behave in an unprofessional manner such as excessively contentious behavior, excessive protestation, drunkenness or violence. Determination of unprofessional behavior is solely at the discretion of the Cincy Blues Society.
Refreshments and food will be sold at the event and are the responsibility of the consumer.
Admission to the Blues Challenge is FREE. We encourage you to invite your fans, friends and family members to attend the Challenge.
Other Points of Consideration:
The Cincy Blues Society reserves the right to videotape or otherwise record all Blues Challenge performances.
If you have performance CD’s for sale, please bring them along and we’ll sell them at our merchandise table. It’s your responsibility to pick up your sales money and unsold merchandise before the end of the night.
We are using the same scoring criteria as the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge to help acts prepare for competing in the IBC.
*New for 2023* Your act will be judged on:
- 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.
Basic Scoring Calculation:
Judges will score acts on a 10 point scale, with 10 points being the highest score received and 1 point being the lowest. *New for 2023* The following weights will be used in calculating final scores:
- Raw scores for Blues Content will be multiplied by 4
- Raw scores for Originality will be multiplied by 3
- Raw scores for Talent and for Vocals will be multiplied by 2
- Raw scores for Stage Presence will be multiplied by 2
The maximum Total Weighted Score an act may receive is 130 (per judge).
What the score values represent:
Each judge will indicate his or her Raw Score, between 1 and 10, in each category and turn that information over to the Scorekeeper using the following scale as a guideline:
- 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 those who play the main stage at major festivals
The weighted scores of all the judges are averaged in each category to determine the final score in that category for the band. The averaged weighted scores are then added together to determine the band’s combined average weighted score. Then, any penalty points are deducted to obtain the final score used in the standings.
An act will be penalized one (1) point from its combined average weighted score for each of the following:
- Each 10 seconds that it runs overtime during a competition performance.
- Excessive loading in or or out time (at the discretion of the stage manager)
- If any performer is seen/heard talking to any judge.
In The Event Of A Tie For First Place
*New for 2023* – In the event of a tie for first place in any performance category (Band or Solo/Duo), the winner will be determined as follows:
- The act with the highest Weighted Total from any judge.
- The act with the highest Average Weighted Score in each scoring category (in preferential order):
- Blues Content
- Vocals and Instrumental Talent (combined)
- Stage Presence
- A majority decision from the judges
Performers’ Receipt of Scoring Information:
After the competition each act will receive a summarized score sheet of their performance within 2-4 weeks after the competition. This will allow each band to see their “raw score” and to see what kind of impression they made on the judges. Acts will not receive their score sheets on the day of the competition.
Best Self Produced CD Competition
All rules and eligibility are based on The Blues Foundation “Best Self-Produced CD” competition.
Rules for the Cincy Blues Society Best Self-Produced CD Competition.
- The CD must be released between November 1, 2022 and October 31, 2023.
- The artist must be a current member of the Cincy Blues Society. If you’re not already a member, you can sign up here.
- Compilation CDs are NOT eligible
- If no more than one CD is submitted, it many NOT be from a board member or officer
- A performer who has previously been nominated for a Blues Music Award (formerly the W.C. Handy Blues Award) shall not be eligible for this competition. A CD issued in the name of an otherwise eligible performer which also includes the contribution of a Blues Music Award nominee may be ineligible, depending on the extent of the contribution. We will consult the Blues Foundation for a final ruling on this rule.
- A CD on a record label that has been previously nominated for a Blues Music Award (formerly the W.C. Handy Blues Award) shall not be eligible for this competition
- Recordings with established or “known” producers within the industry are eligible as long as the recording is on the artist’s independent label and NOT on an established blues label.
- A singer, band or local producer may produce the actual CD as long as the performer is a singer, band or other individual entity
Judges will evalute the following points
The criteria are in order of importance
- Blues Content (is this a blues music recording?)
- Musical Performance (musicianship)
- Audio Quality of the Presentation (production values, audio level)
- Cover Art and Design (professional packaging, ready for the rack at your favorite music outlet?)
- Credit and Liner Information. (informative, professional)
To reflect the relative importance of each category in the success of a CD, the scoring in each category is weighted before final tabulations. Raw scores for Blues Content are multiplied by 4, both Musical Performance and Audio Quality of the Presentation are multiplied by 3 and Cover Art and Design is multiplied by 2 to give weighted scores in each category. The attached score sheet should demonstrate this clearly.
In the event of a tie, the winners name will be put in hat and the name pulled from the hat will be the winner.
To enter, contact Debby Manning at email@example.com to arrange pickup of your CDs.
The deadline is October 1, 2023.
Note the reason for 5 CDs: 1 to be used in the judging and 4 (winning CD) to be sent to the Blues Foundation for judging in the Blues Foundation’s “Best Self-Produced CD” competition. If you would desire your CDs to be returned after the competition, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time and place to pick them up.