help_outline Skip to main content
Add Me To Your Mailing List


Battle of the Blues Bands!

 | Published on 5/15/2018

Time again for all blues musicians from around the state to enter the Magic City Blues Society - Battle of the Blues Bands! The winners will represent the Magic City Blues Society at the 35th International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis January 22 – January 26, 2019 when winners from more than 150 Blues societies from around the world will compete.

The winner of the IBC will get a lot of sponsorship opportunities and will be booked for some of the most prestigious blues festivals around the country. Many artists have used this competition to make the national blues scene. We are looking for the best blues bands in Alabama to compete in the 2018 Battle of the Blues Bands contest. There will be two first place winners: one band and one solo/duo act. The winners will be booked for paying gigs at MCBS events.

The first place winner of the band competition will have their choice to headline the October Phelan Park finale or open up for Blues Ball in December. The second place winner will play the gig that the first place winner does not choose. The third place winner will play for the MCBS birthday party in January 2019. The solo/duo winner will have the option to open the October Phelan Park finale or other MCBS event. Additionally, the MCBS will give a stipend to the winners to assist with the costs of attending the finals in Memphis.

Please note:

An act may only enter the IBC 3 times. They may not participate 3 consecutive years. A musician may not compete in the band category and the solo/duo in the same year. All members of a winning act must attend the IBC. Acts must enter the challenge of their own/home affiliate first. If they are not successful, they may enter the challenges of no more than 2 affiliates in that year provided those affiliates are within 250 miles of the home affiliate.

See here for full details of The Blues Foundation Guidelines


IBC judges are blues professionals and aficionados with a deep understanding and historical perspective of all blues forms. Any given panel of judges will include members with varying opinions of blues, covering the spectrum of blues from the most traditional to soul/blues and rock/blues.

Scoring Categories and Definitions:

•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. It 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 onstage. 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. The following weights will be used in calculating final scores:

•Raw scores for Blues Content will be multiplied by four.

•Raw scores for Originality will be multiplied by three.

•Raw scores for Talent and for Vocals will be multiplied by two.

•Raw scores for Stage Presence will be multiplied by two.

The maximum Total Weighted Score an act may receive is 130.

Penalty Points:

An act will be penalized one point from its Total Weighted Score for each of the following:

•Failing to acknowledge that a song is a cover and/or not giving credit to its originator.

•Each ten seconds that it runs overtime during a competition performance.

•Finishing 3 or more minutes before its allotted performance time expires.

•Showing up late and/or missing Orientation.

•Not being ready to perform at stated time.


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:

•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

1.The Scorekeeper will multiply the Raw Score in each category by the established multiplier to get each judge’s Individual Weighted Score in each category for each act.

2.The Individual Weighted Scores for each category will be added together to determine each act’s Total Weighted Score for each judge.

3.Any penalty points assigned will then be deducted from each judge’s Total Weighted Score to obtain the act’s Net Weighted Score for each judge.

4.After all acts have been judged and each act’s Net Weighted Score per judge calculated, each act will be ranked by judge based on that judge’s order of scores, with the act receiving the judge’s highest Net Weighted Score being given a ranking of 1, and so on for that judge. This will reveal each acts Final Ranking Number for each judge.

5.The Scorekeeper then will  total the Final Ranking Number from all judges for each act to determine the Gross Final Ranking.
This figure is averaged (divided by the total number of judges) to achieve the Aggregate Act Ranking.

6. The act with the best Aggregate Act Ranking will be the top finisher.

7. In the case of a tie, the Scorekeeper shall calculate the sum of all Net Weighted Scores from all judges for the tied acts. The band with the higher sum of Net Weighted Scores wins.

Other Considerations

1. Backline and Equipment

The MCBS will provide backline and sound. The setup on stage will include a drum kit with snare drums, amps, keyboards, and mics. The backline will be based on the act’s registration information.

Drummers should bring their own cymbals and kick pedals.

Harmonica players may (but are not required to) bring their own harp amp.

Keyboard players are allowed (but are not required) to bring their own keyboard and keyboard amps. Keyboard stands will be provided. Effects racks and other auxiliary equipment are permitted.

Musicians must include on the online registration form any additional or special equipment needed.

Competitors are prohibited from bringing their own guitar amplifiers (harp amps and keyboard amps being the only exceptions). Musicians should bring their own DI boxes. Every effort will be made to provide suitable equipment.

Battle of the Blues Bands Band (3 or more people) Registration

Battle of the Blues Bands Solo/Duo Registration