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DC Blues Society Battle of the Bands

Enter DCBS Battles

Battle of the BLUES Bands Contestants - Enter Now!

Entry deadline is June 5

Nominations available:   BLUES Bands   |   Solo/Duo BLUES Acts   |   Youth BLUES Acts   |   Self-Produced BLUES CDs   |   Invite all to the BLUES Battle

Battle of the Bands and Solo / Duo BLUES Competition Details

The DC Blues Society BLUES winners will compete at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN and more!

The deadline for entering is NOW!

The competition will consist of a CD review competition and an all-live competition.

Battle of the BLUES Bands:   Saturday, August 19
Solo / Duo BLUES Acts:   Saturday, September 9
American Legion- Cissel Saxon Post 41
905 Sligo Avenue (entrance on Fenton Street)
Silver Spring, MD 20910

The winners are paid to perform at the 2017 FREE College Park Blues Festival (an IBC Fundraiser) on Saturday, November 4, 2017 AND at the 2018 FREE Annual DC Blues Festival (Subject to Change) AND represents the DC Blues Society at the 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.

The contest is open to blues artists from DC, Maryland and Virginia. See Eligibility Criteria below for additional details.

How to Enter

To enter:   print and fill out the DCBS IBC Application form (write clearly) - application form is also available in Word format

To be eligible, you'll need to send all of the following:

  1. Filled out form with confirmation of DCBS membership - identify which you're entering:   Battle of the BLUES Bands or Solo / Duo BLUES Act
  2. Confirmation that you and your band have read the Scoring Criteria / Penalties / Eligibility Criteria
  3. At least 3 sample tunes on CD
  4. Official band name
  5. Short band bio (100 words or less)
  6. A digital color or B&W photo with a 300 dpi resolution
  7. A link to your website

Failure to send the above may forfeit eligibility. Sample tunes are required in order to qualify. Materials sent to DCBS will only be returned if a self-addressed stamped envelope is provided.

E-mail items 1-7 to and mail everything by the deadline.

DC Blues Society - IBC Battles
P.O. Box 77315
Washington, DC 20013-7315

Eligibility Criteria

The winner is obligated to attend the IBC competition.

  • An act is limited to two consecutive appearances at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN and must then sit out at least one year before being eligible to compete again.  An act under the same name will not be allowed to compete three consecutive years.
  • 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.
  • The competition is for Blues Bands.

No other entry 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.

For complete International Blues Challenge rules, scoring, and other information, visit

Scoring Criteria

The following scoring criteria reflect in large part the Blues Foundation recommendations as they apply to the International Blues Challenge. Categories include Talent, Blues Content, Stage Presence and Originality.

  1. Blues Content (weight of 4):
    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, from 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. Originality (weight of 3):  
    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.

  3. Vocals (weight of 2):
    The acts vocal skills

  4. Instrumental Talent (weight of 2):
    This category is self-explanatory - the act's vocal and/or instrumental skills.

  5. Stage Presence (weight of 2):
    Over the years, the quality of talent has risen so dramatically that the IBC 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.

Band Sets
Each band will have thirty (30) minutes to perform their selections. There will be a 7-minute changeover period between sets. If a band exceeds the 30-minute performance time or the 7-minute changeover a penalty may apply. (See Penalty section.)

Weighted Scoring
To reflect the relative importance of each category in the success of a band, a band's score in each category is weighted. Raw scores for Blues Content are multiplied by four. Talent is multiplied by three. And Originality and Stage Presence are multiplied by two. The total in each category represents the Weighted Score for that category. Total possible weighted score is 110. DCBS will not use the IBC ranking calculations. The band with the highest sum of Net Weighted Scores is the winner.

Penalty Points
A Band is penalized one point from its Total Weighted Score (see below) for each ten seconds that it runs overtime. There is no penalty for using less than the allotted time. The same penalty also applies to exceeding the 7-minute changeover period. [If the preceding band takes more than five minutes to clear the stage, the oncoming band will not be penalized.]

DCBS Battles

Entry deadline is NOW

Nominations include:
  BLUES Band   |   Solo / Duo BLUES Act
Youth BLUES Act   |   Self-Produced BLUES CD

The contests are open to Blues artists from DC, Maryland and Virginia. See Eligibility Criteria and How to Enter

2017 Battle of the Blues Bands & Solo/Duo Winners play the

2017 Annual FREE College Park Blues Festival


2018 International Blues Challenge


2018 Annual FREE DC Blues Festival (Subject to Change)

Congratulations to the 2016 DCBS
Memphis or Bust IBC Battle Winners

2016 College Park Blues Festival

Thanks to all the bands and musicians who competed! Click the links and photos to view more information.


Here is the scoring procedure for DCBS Battle of the Bands:

  1. All categories and weightings are as previously stated.

  2. Each judge will indicate his or her Raw Score (a whole number between 1 and 10) in each category and turn that information over to the scorekeeper. Judges will not weight scores.

  3. The scorekeeper will multiply the Raw Score in each category by the established multiplier to get each judge's Weighted Score in each category for each act.

  4. The Weighted Scores from each category for an act are added together to determine the acts’ Total Weighted Score for each judge.

  5. Any penalty points will then be deducted to obtain the act's Net Weighted Score.

  6. The band with the highest Net Weighted Score wins.

    - Each band will have thirty (30) minutes to perform their selections and up to 7 (seven) minutes to set-up. (See Penalty section.)

    - In case of a tie, the band that has the highest weighted score in the Blues Content category will be declared the winner. If a tie remains, the scorekeeper shall calculate the sum of all Total Weighted Scores from all judges for the tied acts. The band with the higher sum of Total Weighted Scores wins.

    - Visit the International Blues Challenge website for more information on the IBC.


* If no one is a DCBS member, please visit to download the Membership form.

* The DC Blues Society is a Blues Foundation affiliate. The International Blues Challenge (IBC) is restricted to acts sponsored by a Blues Foundation affiliate.