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Blues Society to host Vicksburg Blues Challenge



Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. presents a proclamation to Vicksburg Blues Society in 2015. Left to right: Mr. Sipp, Shirley Waring, Mayor Flaggs, Gerad Hardy, Eddie Cotton Jr., Rep. Oscar Denton (D-Vicksburg).
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Get ready for a night full of fun, socializing and blues.

The Vicksburg Blues Society, Inc. will host the annual Vicksburg Blues Challenge at Ameristar Casino Hotel in the Bottleneck Blues Bar starting at 2 p.m.  Sept. 29. The event is free to fans of blues music who are 21 and older.

Keith Johnson perfoming for the Vicksburg Blues Challenge 2019

This event is a preliminary competition to select a Vicksburg Blues Society representative for the International Blues Challenge held annually in Memphis, Tenn. The Memphis event is a highly recognized competition of blues artists from around the globe.

The competition is split into two categories: solo/duo acts and band acts. Each solo-duo act will perform for 20 minutes, while bands will entertain the crowd for 25 minutes. The local artists will be judged based on the same standards used for national level artists.

“Some of the things the acts will be judged on are blues content, stage presence, their musicianship, their musical abilities,” said Shirley Waring with the Vicksburg Blues Society, Inc., “and the criteria is the same as what they use in the International Blues Challenge.”


Shirley Waring and Chris Gill

The Vicksburg Blues Society, Inc., an affiliate of the Blues Foundation in Memphis, has been a part of the international challenge since 2012 by hosting this preliminary challenge in Vicksburg. Local winners have gone on to win in the Memphis event.

“We have won this competition twice,” Waring said. “We won in 2014 with Mr. Sipp and again in 2015 with Eddie Cotton, and we are recognized internationally. We have put Vicksburg on the map internationally, and this has kept us in the spotlight, because when we go to Memphis we are recognized as bringing some of the best talent.”

Like Mr. Sipp and Eddie Cotton, the winner of this year’s Vicksburg event has an opportunity to be internationally recognized.

“The international blues challenge is the largest gathering and largest blues competition in the world,” Waring said. “It takes place in Memphis, Tennessee on Beale Street, and it is a five day event. It’ll be Jan. 28 through Feb. 1, and the first two days, Wednesday and Thursday, will be the days we take our act to compete on Beale Street. The judges up there will judge them, pick semifinalists who will compete on Friday, and they will pick finalists who will compete Saturday at the Orpheum Theatre. So this whole thing is a preliminary challenge to pick who will represent us.

“There are usually about 850 musicians that are participating in this and 250 acts, so it is very prestigious for us to do as well as we do every year.”

 The mission of the Vicksburg Blues Society encompasses more than simply informing people of Vicksburg talent. The society works to make Mississippi greater than what it already is.

“We’re very excited about this,” Waring said. “It’s part of what we do to build the cultural heritage recognition that we have for Mississippi.”

For more information on the Vicksburg Blues Challenge 2019 including the talent lineup, follow the event page on Facebook or check out the Vicksburg Blues Society website.


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