2017 Heart of Texas Blues Challenge Rules and Regulations

Competition Dates and Location

Competition dates are Tuesday, August 1st, Sunday, August 6th and Tuesday, August 8th, 2017. All competitions will be held at Antone's Nightclub at 305 E. 5th St., Austin TX, 78701. Specific nights and time slots for competitors will be determined after entry cut off.


Competition Agreement

The undersigned hereby attests that he/she is 18 years of age or older; and is the responsible spokesperson for the individual(s) listed elsewhere on the Entry Form and identified on the Entry Form by real or stage name, and herein referred to as The Act


It is agreed by the spokesperson that he/she and each member of The Act, do hereby exempt from all liability, The Austin Blues Society, The Blues Foundation, and all persons, organizations and companies that are directly or indirectly associated with the Blues Challenge. 


It is further agreed by the spokesperson that he/she and each member of The Act do hereby accept full responsibility for all taxes and restrictions relating to contest prizes received by The Act; further, each member of The Act, listed on the Entry Form, here within permits The Austin Blues Society the right to make use of his/her/their names, voices, pictures, visages and other likenesses of The Act for the purpose of advertising, publishing and promoting the Blues Challenge through media, including entertainment and music syndicated radio, film and/or television shows presented or produced by The Austin Blues Society or its partners or assigns.


In addition, the spokesperson and each member of The Act hereby agrees that The Austin Blues Society will retain total ownership of the program(s), the right to edit the program(s), the right to 

broadcast the program(s), the right to copyright the program(s) and the right to license others to use these rights.


The winning act will be required to register online at the Blues Foundation’s website for the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge (IBC) at least two weeks prior to the official registration deadline or may forfeit their prize monies and the right to represent The Austin Blues Society at the 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. At this point the second place act will become the representative contestant. This ensures that the winning act both abides by IBC eligibility rules and shows true intent of traveling to Memphis to compete. 


Prize monies will be paid to the winning band, solo/duo, and youth acts in the form of a check written to one representative of each Act. Prize monies will be paid no later than one week prior to the 2018 International Blues Challenge.


An IRS W-9 form will be required to be filled out by the person receiving the check. Failure to meet all eligibility and appearance requirements at the 2018 International Blues Challenge will result in forfeiture of prize monies.


The undersigned spokesperson hereby acknowledges that each member of The Act is knowledgeable of and agrees to abide by the terms of the Official Rules and Eligibility Criteria and this document, as set forth by The Austin Blues Society.


Eligibility Criteria




  • Any artist whose name has appeared on a final Handy/Blues Music Award ballot is ineligible. All other musicians who have had peripheral and/or professional contact through performance with a Handy/Blues Music Award nominee, including but not limited to touring band members and studio musicians, are deemed eligible for the IBC.

  • An individual may not compete in more than one act in any capacity.

  • A musician cannot compete in the Band Division and the Solo/Duo Division, even if that musician represents a different Affiliate in each.

  • At least one member of The Act must be a resident of the state of Texas and a current Member of The Austin Blues Society.

  • The Heart of Texas Blues Challenge and International Blues Challenge both are open to UNSIGNED acts only.

  • Definition of a Youth Act: Any act that all members are under the age of 21 at the time of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. PLEASE NOTE: Youth acts can be appointed by the board of an affiliate. A competition is not required. PLEASE NOTE: Minors on Beale Street – During the hours of 6am and 11pm minors under the age of 18 are allowed within the Beale Street Historic District, without being accompanied by a parent or guardian. Minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter the Beale Street Historic District after 11pm unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, or going to a destination point like the New Daisy Theatre.


No other eligibility restrictions apply.


  • This means that management contracts, booking agent contracts, recording contracts, performance contracts (even those that include regular television or radio broadcast) and nationally distributed recordings have no bearing on eligibility.

  • An entry fee of $50.00 must accompany the official entry form.

  • The Act must arrive at the Competition location, to be determined, on time for their scheduled performance slot or risk disqualification. Proof of residency will be required on day of competition.

  • All scheduled performance times are approximate. It is highly recommended that The Act arrive on time for scheduled check-in, which will be confirmed when you receive your competition time-slot. Cancellations and short performance times of other acts may accelerate the schedule. If for any reason The Act is not ready to take the stage following the previous competitor’s performance, The Act will forfeit their right to perform and the competition will proceed to the next act. This has happened in the past – please be prepared for it.


Scoring Criteria

Categories include Talent, Blues Content, Stage Presence and Originality.


  1. Blues Content: Everyone has his or her own interpretation of what is and is not Blues. Thus, any given three-judge panel will include members with varying opinions of Blues, covering the spectrum of Blues whenever possible, form the most traditional to soul/blues and rock/blues. Bands should pick material carefully. At the Memphis semi-finals and finals, the judges are Blues professionals, not a bar crowd, and are likely to be unimpressed with song selections that are uninspired. (Call this — with all due respect to Sir Mack Rice and Wilson Pickett — the “no Mustang Sally” rule.)

  2. Talent: This category is self-explanatory — the act’s vocal and/or instrumental skills.

  3. 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.

  4. Stage Presence: Over the years, the quality of talent has risen so dramatically that we no longer consider this an “amateur” competition. Most contestants have performed on stage enough to know that they are not simply playing music, but putting on a show. This category rates how “sellable” a band may be. 


Scoring will be tabulated in line with the Blues Foundation IBC scoring criterion. Please see IBC Rules and Regulations for further information on scoring procedures. At the end of the competition, judges names will be blacked out, and competitors will receive their score cards so that they may see the feedback given to them the night of their performance.


Equipment and Sets

The Austin Blues Society/Antone's Nightclub will provide the PA system, microphones and drums, bass amp, and guitar amp. You are required to use the equipment provided. (Drummers may bring their own cymbals, snare, kick pedal and throne if desired). 


  • Acts will be given ten minutes to set up and five minutes to vacate the stage following their performance. 

  • Sets will be twenty (20) minutes in length. A time card will be held up at the 5, 3 and 1 minute marks. 

  • Order of performance will be determined by random drawing. 

  • Your submission is a guarantee of performance. Do not submit if you have a conflict with the date(s) of the competition.

  • Your Entry Fee is non-refundable.


Entry Requirements

Application should be submitted to the Austin Blues Society using the online form here. An entry form can be downloaded here and mailed to the Austin Blues Society at P.O. Box 81844, Austin, TX 78708-1844 or turned in directly to an Austin Blues Society Board Member at an ABS jam.


Application must be received by midnight on July 14th, 2017, including $50 application fee. The application fee is payable online at the ABS store, or a check should be made out payable to the Austin Blues Society. Application fee is non-refundable for acts accepted into the competition. At least one member of The Act must be a member of the Austin Blues Society by the entry date and a resident of the state of Texas. Proof of residency will be required on the date of the competition. 


Slots will be filled in order of the date entries are received. It is highly recommended you submit your entry as soon as possible. 


Refund of application fee for acts not accepted into the competition will be made by check after the date of the competition.


Arbitration of Eligibility Disputes

The Austin Blues Society will stand as the final arbiter of any disputes. Each entrant is required to sign their entry form stating that they have reviewed, understand, and meet the eligibility requirements. Bands found to be ineligible will be disqualified from the competition.




Best of luck to all in the 2017 Heart of Texas Blues Challenge!!