The World's Biggest Blues Band Battle

(Gibson) The annual International Blues Challenge concluded in Memphis on February 5 with finals at the historic Orpheum Theatre, where George Schroeter and Marc Brietfelder of Germany won the solo/duo category and Colorado's Lionel Young Band scored first place in the band competition.

But the event is more than a giant battle of musicians competing for honors and prizes presented by the Blues Foundation. The IBC, sponsored in part by Gibson, is convocation for players and fans from all over the world. This year's sprawling festival and party featured 220 acts representing blues societies from 40 states and 13 counties who all descended on the city of blues and barbecue from January 31 through February 5 to celebrate a sound that helped define American music. Some of the performers sought to redefine that sound, but most were content to echo the past with performances in the clubs along historic Beale Street, culminating in the theater finals.

This year's winner of the annual Albert King Award for Best Guitarist was Rob Blaine of Rob Blaine's Big Otis Blues. Blaine delivered a scalding version of Luther Allison's harrowing alcoholic nightmare tale "Cherry Red Wine." His prize was a Gibson ES-335. more on this story

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