The International Blues Challenge honors artists with awards in three categories: band, solo/duet, and "Best Self-Produced CD."

And the Winner is...

The Blues Foundation held its 28th annual International Blues Challenge this past weekend, February 1st through 4th, 2012. This was the biggest and best IBC to date, with a record 226 acts, a total of 748 musicians from 40 states and 16 countries from around the globe participating in the competition. This year's IBC was expanded from three nights to four, with quarter-final rounds held on Wednesday and Thursday nights, semi-finals on Friday night, and the final round on Saturday.

The International Blues Challenge honors artists with awards in three categories: band, solo/duet, and "Best Self-Produced CD." Performers for the challenge are chosen by local blues societies to participate, and the performances were held at 20 different venues along historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. Taking the top honor in the band category is the WIRED! Band, sponsored by the Washington Blues Society. The Bart Walker Band from Nashville took second place, followed by Paula Harris, who was sponsored by The Golden Gate Blues Society.

Sponsored by the Ozark Blues Society of Northwest Arkansas, blues veteran Ray Bonneville took first place in the solo/duet category, beating out Doctor Don's Double Dose, who were brought to the dance by the Sydney Blues Society. The competition for the "Best Self-Produced CD" was particularly strong this year, a record 74 submissions whittled down by the judges to a more-manageable 30 albums for the second round. In the end, the well-deserved new Dave Keller CD Where I'm Coming From... won the award.

Bart Walker didn't go home empty-handed, the guitarist earning the event's "Gibson Guitarist Award" and winning himself a new axe, while the title of "Lee Oskar Top Harmonica Player" was awarded to Randy McQuay. For more information on the International Blues Challenge, check out The Blues Foundation .

Quickly, to the point, the winner of the band competition is: The WIRED! Band (Washington Blues Society)

The winner of the solo/duo competition is: Ray Bonneville (Ozark Blues Society of Northwest Arkansas)

The other winners are: Band-2nd place: The Bart Walker Band (Nashville Blues Society); Band-3rd Place: Paula Harris (The Golden Gate Blues Society); Solo/Duo-2nd Place: Dr. Don's Double Dose Sydney Blues Society

Also, the Gibson Guitarist Award went to: Bart Walker ; and the Lee Oskar Top Harmonica Player was awarded to: Randy McQuay .

The Best Self Produced CD was judged to be: Where I'm Coming From... - Dave Keller .

The Gibson guitar autographed by Blues Music Award nominees was won by Chris Hardwick

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