Deadline for Band Challenge registration is 5/20/2022.

Challenge is limited to the 1st 16 bands that sign up

Challenge will take place on Sundays at Black-Eyed Sally's, Hartford CT

Your registration was sent successfully! A CTBS representative will contact you to finalize your registration.



THE CONNECTICUT BLUES SOCIETY, as an affiliate member of The Blues Foundation, is hosting the 25th Annual Connecticut Band Blues Challenge. The preliminaries will take place at Black-Eyed Sally’s, 350 Asylum Street, Hartford, CT.


The winners of each preliminary round (plus the highest scoring wild card) will compete in the Finals with the winner sponsored by CTBS to participate in the 36th International Blues Challenge in Memphis, 2023.


CTBS will award our winning Band $2,000 plus a gig at the Blues in the Park Festival and at Black-Eyed Sally’s. Winners of The Blues Foundation's IBC Finals (in Memphis) in the past have received $2,500, gigs at several major Blues Festivals and a gig on the Legendary Blues Cruise. There is no entry fee.



Eligibility Requirements

One band member must reside in CT and one member (not necessarily the same member) must belong to the CT Blues Society. Membership can be obtained or renewed at any time before the band takes the stage to compete.  Also, in accordance with The Blues Foundation rules, Blues Music Award nominees are ineligible to compete. Acts will be judged by writers, DJ’s, musicians and fans active in the Blues community.

Rules and Scoring Criteria

Blues Challenge 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 Blues/Rock. 

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, 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:  This is the ability to command the attention of the audience by the impressiveness of one’s manner and appearance on stage. 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 not being ready to perform on time.


Scoring System for Judges

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


The Scorekeeper

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


Peter Rost, President of Connecticut Blues Society

Ellen & Scott Sebastian, Event Coordinators