Are you the King of the Blues?

Guitar Center fourth annual King of the Blues, the nationwide search for the next great undiscovered blues guitar player, began its in-store competitions last week.

Contestants will go toe-to-toe, demonstrating their blues skills for the chance to win thousands of dollars in prizes and the opportunity to perform at the King of the Blues finals at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, and play on the same stage as Grammy Award-winning guitarist Derek Trucks.

The success of last year's reigning champion, Kirby Kelley, is testimony to Guitar Center's support of aspiring artists as he was recently selected to play at the Eric Clapton-curated Crossroads Guitar Festival on June 26th at Toyota Park in Chicago, IL, opening for a long list of legendary artists, including: Allman Brothers Band; ZZ Top; Steve Winwood; BB King; Jeff Beck; Vince Gill; Sheryl Crow; Buddy Guy, John Mayer and Clapton himself. All profits from the Festival will benefit The Crossroads Centre in Antigua, a treatment and education facility founded by Clapton for chemically dependent persons.

"King of the Blues is a wonderful event that came at pivotal point in my life and career, and having won last year's competition is an absolute honor," said Kelley. "Anyone who has ever picked up the guitar and enjoyed the sound of it is equally blessed. We should all remember that fun is the key. Fun in life, as well as in playing the guitar."

All store, district and regional finalists will win impressive prize packages including top gear from Gibson, Epiphone, Ernie Ball, Egnater and Boss. The guitarist crowned Guitar Center's King of the Blues will receive: $25,000 case; endorsement Deals from Gibson, Ernie Ball, Boss and Egnater; a Feature in Guitar World Magazine; a Gibson 1960 50th Anniversary ES-335; an Epiphone 1965 Elitist Casino, an Egnater Renegade full-stack amplifier, and a Boss GT-10 Guitar Multi-Effects Processor with effects pedals.

Each contestant will be required to give a live guitar solo, performed over one of thirty original backing tracks, developed by Grammy Award-winning producer/guitarist, Pete Anderson (all backing tracks are available for free download at guitarcenter.com/kingoftheblues). One winner from each store will be chosen to move up to district competitions (25 locations), followed by regionally hosted semi-finals (5 locations), which culminate in the aforementioned King of the Blues finals competition on September 2nd. Here, the five finalists will perform in front of a live audience and a panel of celebrity judges, and share the stage with world-renowned guitarist Derek Trucks, leader of the Grammy Award-winning Derek Trucks Band and member of Allman Brothers Band. Trucks' extensive list of accolades and accomplishments includes being tapped by Eric Clapton to join the guitar legend's 2006/07 world tour as a featured soloist and appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone's "New Guitar Gods" issue, as well as being the youngest musician to make the magazine's "100 Greatest Guitar Players of All Time."

King of the Blues is one of many Guitar Center initiatives created to foster growth and success within the music community, including its annual Drum-Off, On-Stage and Your Next Record undiscovered artist programs. Guitar Center's Drum-Off, now in its 21st year, has been a launching pad for many drummers, including Cora Coleman-Dunham and Tony Royster Jr, two Drum-Off champions who have gone on to become acclaimed professional drummers (Prince and Jay-Z respectively).

Guitar Center Presents Your Next Record with Slash provides emerging artists the chance to win the ultimate career-altering opportunity: record a 3-song EP with legendary producer, Mike Clink and have Slash write, record and perform on the winning artists' single -www.YourNextRecord.com.


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