Blues Challenge

International Blues Challenge IBC

The Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation is a member of the Blues Foundation. Each October JSJBF runs a New Jersey Blues Challenge – to send a local New Jersey representative to the big international competition. The local winner goes to Memphis, Tennessee, and competes in the International Blues Challenge! The monies raised at the April Get Out Of Town fundraiser help the local winner with travel expenses.

2023 International Blues Challenge

January in Memphis

New Jersey Blues Challenge

SEPT Competition SIGN UP: SIGN UP for the NJ Blues Challenge!

OCT 2023: The NJ Competition. The winners go to the 2024 IBC!

NOV: Get Out Of Town Fundraiser for the winner’s travel expenses to the IBC.

2024 International Blues Challenge


The International Blues Challenge (IBC) is an annual event taking place in Memphis, Tennesee.

Our New Jersey Blues Challenge winners will go to the Memphis IBC!

Over 250 bands from around the world participate in this challenge! more info on

Scoring Criteria:

Scoring will be based on the system utilized by the Blues Foundation. The categories include: Blues Content, Instrumental and Vocal Talent, Originality and Stage Presence and are defined by the Blues Foundation as follows:

  1. Blues Content: Everyone has his or her own interpretation of what is or is not Blues. Any given three-judge panel will include members with varying opinions covering the spectrum of blues whenever possible, from the most traditional to southwest blues, jump blues, swamp blues, rock/blues, etc. Bands should pick their songs carefully. Judges will be unimpressed with song selections that are uninspired( they refer to this as the “No Mustang Sally Rule.”)
  2. Vocals: The Act’s vocal skills.
  3. Instrumental Talent: The Act’s instrumental talent.
  4. Originality: Original work is encouraged. Cover tunes are allowed but playing recorded renditions of lick by lick is discouraged; will not be looked on favorably by the judges and will be reflected accordingly in the scoring. When doing a cover you need to “make the song yours,” e.g. Hendrix’s cover of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”
  5. Stage presence; This category relates to how “sellable” a band may be.

The raw scores are based on a scale of 1-10 points per category. The Blues Foundation provides the judges the following information on what the raw scores mean:

  • 1-3 points  – Typical of a beginning blues band
  • 4-5 points  – Typical of a local weekend band
  • 6-7 points  – Typical of an advanced local band but not yet ready to headline a major blues club
  • 8-9 points  – Typical of the quality of blues artists who headline major blues festivals
  • 10  points  – Typical of those who play the main stage at major blues festivals.

Those raw scores are then adjusted by a ” weighted multiplier” of X-4 for blues content, X-3 for originality and X-2 for instrumental talent, vocal talent and stage presence.

Penalty Points:

Of the 10 the Blues Foundation uses, we only enforce 2.

  1. You will be deducted 1 point if you finish 3 minutes or more before your allotted time performance expires. This has to do with people wanting to see certain bands and missing them because of short sets.
  2. You will be deducted 1 point for every 10 seconds you go over your 25 minute set time.

The Blues Foundation deducts points if you fail to acknowledge a song is a cover and /or not giving credit to its originator. We don’t but to get in the practice for Memphis, let the judges know when you’re doing an original or covering another artist’s song.

More info about the International Blues Challenge on