One act came from Houston, Texas, the other from Sydney, Australia, but they both proved to be outstanding at this year’s International Blues Challenge finals, which took place January 28th at Memphis’ historic Orpheum Theatre.
Mathias Lattin representing the Houston Blues Society, left Memphis with a first-place finish in the Band Division, also taking home the Gibson Guitar Award for Best Band Guitarist. Frank Sultana from the Sydney Blues Society, triumphed in the Solo/Duo Division and Adam Karch of the Montreal Blues Society, nabbed the Memphis Cigar Box Guitar Award. Brian Peters of Deuce ‘n a Quarter (Columbus Blues Alliance), picked up the Lee Oskar Harmonica Award for the Best Harmonica Player and The Sugar Thieves Duo (Phoenix Blues Society), took second place in the solo/duo division. Winning the Best Self-produced CD was Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal for their album, Green Light..
Receiving recognition too at this year’s IBC Awards in the Band Division was The Cinelli Brothers of the UK Blues Federation, capturing 2nd place, and coming in 3rd place was Dick Earl’s Electric Witness from the Las Vegas Blues Society.
Interim President and CEO, Kimberly Horton effused, “We’re super excited to be back with our blues community on Beale Street. All of the bands were awesome and winners in their own right to be here!! Looking forward to 2024! Save the dates January 16-20, 2024!
While the Challenge served as a centerpiece of IBC Week, a varied line-up of unique events also occured including the highly esteemed Keeping the Blues Alive Awards. This year’s recipients were celebrated at a special ceremony, click here for the complete list.
Other highlights included Doug MacLeod’s book signing for his new book, Murder at the Crossroads, master classes in guitar, bass, drums, piano/keyboards and harmonica, a Blues yoga class and the IBC Silent Auction.
The International Blues Challenge is sponsored by The Tennessee Arts Commission, Arts Memphis, Memphis Tourism, Gibson Gives, Memphis Intl. Airport, Air Canada, Hohner Harmonicas, Silky O’Sullivan’s, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Big Blues Bender, Ditty TV, Folk Alliance Intl., Lee Oskar Harmonica’s, Big City Rhythm & Blues, Doubletree by Hilton, Blues Festival Guide, and BMI.
The Blues Foundation is a world-renowned Memphis-based organization whose mission is to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, the Foundation has approximately 4,000 individual members and 173 affiliated blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals worldwide. Its signature honors and events — the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame inductions, International Blues Challenge, and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards — make it the international hub of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance for musicians in need, while Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues Scholarships expose new generations to blues music. The Blues Hall of Fame Museum, located in Downtown Memphis, adds the opportunity for blues lovers of all ages to interact with blues music and history. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the global blues community with answers, information, and news.
COMPLETE LIST OF INTERNATIONAL BLUES CHALLENGE’S 2023 WINNERS
Winner – Mathias Lattin (Houston Blues Society)
2nd Place Band – The Cinelli Brothers (UK Blues Federation)
3rd Place Band – Dick Earl’s Electric Witness (Las Vegas Blues Society)
Winner – Frank Sultana (Sydney Blues Society)
2nd Place – The Sugar Thieves Duo (Phoenix Blues Society)
GIBSON GUITAR AWARD (BEST BAND GUITARIST)
Matthias Lattin (Houston Blues Society)
MEMPHIS CIGAR BOX GUITAR AWARD (BEST SOLO/DUO GUITARIST)
Adam Karch (Montreal Blues Society)
LEE OSKAR HARMONICA AWARD (BEST HARMONICA PLAYER)
Brian Peters of Deuce ‘n a Quarter (Columbus Blues Alliance)
BEST SELF-PRODUCED CD
Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal for their album, Green Light..