Local band WIRED! has won the hugely prestigious International Blues Challenge this weekend, beating out over one hundred other acts representing nearly every state and over sixteen countries. The band won a huge prize package, including nearly a dozen headlining positions in prominent blues festivals across the country.
WIRED! represented the Washington Blues Society in the challenge.
Each local blues association, which number into the hundreds, hosts a local competition to determine one band and one solo/duo act to send to Memphis to represent their organization in the International Blues Challenge (IBC), which takes place on the legendary Beale Street.
Starting mid-last week, 110 bands and over 80 solo/duo acts fromÂ sixteen countries and forty states entered the four day long competition, sponsored by The Blues Foundation, a Memphis-based non-for-profit that is dedicated to preserving our blues music history, celebrating recording and performance excellence, supporting blues education and ensuring the future of the uniquely American art form that is the blues.
All acts compete and are judged in two days of quarter-finals. Three judges, using a standard form, select several acts from each of the venues to compete in semi-finals. From the remainingÂ competitorsÂ in the semi-finals, nine acts were chosen to compete in the finals at the giant Orpheum Theater in Memphis. During the finals, the theater was packed with nearly 2,000 blues fans and industry leaders.
Sister news magazineÂ American Blues Scene covered WIRED! back in November as the band prepared to head to the International Blues Challenge. “The Wired Band is one of the most power-packed bands, trio or not, in the Northwest,” proclaimed American Blues Scene — a testament that now holds more validity than ever.
Kevin Sutton is a High School teacher by day, and the WIRED! Bandâ€™s front-man by night. With his infectious personality and grand stage performance, it must be just as thrilling to go back to school for a day to attend one of Kevinâ€™s classes.
As with all IBC winners, the WIRED! band has been essentially guaranteed a professional career as blues band. While the newly found prestige may seem like it came in aÂ whirlwindÂ overnight, like any other talented, top-tierÂ act, the band doubtlessly spent long, hard hours honing their craft.