Next stop, Memphis: It's International Blues Challenge time

With the International Blues Challenge set to kick off next week in Memphis, blues musicians from all over are making their way to Beale Street to prove their mettle. As I have written before, many of us here in Memphis take the Blues Challenge for granted, but for the acts involved it's both a serious competition and a chance to represent their corners of the world in front of the global blues community.

* From Phoenix, the Sugar Thieves are headed to Memphis for their second appearance at the International Blues Challenge. The band brings brings a youthful energy and a unique sound to the competition, according to a piece in the Phoenix New Times:

While they are not as traditional sounding as some others, they are soulful and sassy, sincere and optimistic in a way that only the blues can be. Sharp-dressed, gritty, and doing plenty of Jäger shots before taking the stage, they own their shows, and this year, they've decided that they're "in it to win it."

Note: The Sugar Thieves were formerly known as the Mikel Lander and Meredith Moore Band. A couple of the members are pictured in this GoMemphis story.

* Topeka, Kan., will be well represented at the Blues Challenge. Two acts making their way to Memphis will play Saturday night at a kickoff party at a Topeka blues spot called Uncle Bo's.

In Memphis, the Nick Hern Band will participate in the IBC's Youth Showcase, a noncompetitive event staged in conjunction with the blues challenge in which Josh Vowell & The Rumble will compete against blues acts from around the globe. Two Topekans -- Suki Willison, Topeka Blues Society president and talent buyer for Uncle Bo's, and Stacy Jeffress, writer for Blues Revue -- will serve as judges for the semifinal round of the International Blues Challenge.

* Up in Corvallis, Ore., fingerstyle picker Adam Scramstad has been busy polishing his act for his first-ever trip to Memphis.

"It's the birthplace of the blues," Scramstad said. "There is a whole lot of history there."

He and Al Rivers, who competed in Memphis last year, are playing a show Saturday in Beaver Town to help raise some cash for expenses.

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  • About Links to Memphis

Deputy Online News Editor Mark Richens takes you through all the news about Memphis from sources outside the Mid-South.