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To participate in the ORBS Blues Challenge, you must complete the application process in full. The first five Bands and the first five Solo/Duo musician(s) who fulfill all of the requirements of the application process will be selected to compete. Youth musician(s) will be selected to perform during the Youth Showcase but will not compete.


*How Does The ORBS distinguish between Band, Solo/Duo, and Youth?

A band is any group with three or more musicians. A solo/duo has no more than two musicians. Both electric and acoustic instruments are allowed in either category, or vocalists are counted as musicians for the purpose of this competition. A Youth participant is any group in which all performing members are under the age of 21 at the time of the ORBS Blues Challenge.



Challenger may enter the ORBS BC a maximum of 3 times, after which they are no longer eligible. They may not participate in the ORBS BC in three consecutive years, i.e., there must be a break of at least one year after competing two years in a row. A musician may not compete in the band category and the solo/ duo category in the same year.


Musicians may be invited to participate in the challenge, but they may not be “pre-selected” and must compete in a fair, live, judged event.



ORBS Blues Challenge judges are Blues professionals and aficionados with a deep understanding and historical perspective of all blues forms. Any given three-judge panel will include members with varying opinions of Blues, covering the spectrum of Blues from the most traditional to soul/blues and rock/blues.


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: 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:


  • Missing act check-in on the day of the event

  • The act neglects to check in with its Stage Coordinator at least 20 minutes before the first performance begins.

  • Excessive time loading-in before and/or loading out after a competition performance.

  • 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.


ORBS strongly suggests that after meeting with the Challenge Director or for their required check-in, each act remain in their assigned venue in order to be immediately available to perform at the Stage Coordinator’s direction. The Stage Coordinator will be responsible for assessing Penalty Points based on ORBS BC rules.


Affiliates and/or Acts are prohibited from contacting any ORBS judge for any reason, and any act that directly contacts a judge leading up to or during the course of the ORBS Challenge will be subject to disqualification. The ORBS Blues Challenge Staff are your ONLY contacts for this competition.



  1. 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.


  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.


The act with the best Aggregate Act Ranking will be the top finisher.


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.


Order of Appearance

The order of appearance of acts is random.


Other Considerations

Backline and Equipment ORBS will provide backline and sound. The setup on stage will include a drum kit with snare drums, amps, keyboards and mics. The backline will be based on the act’s registration information. Bassists will use the bass rig included in the backline. Drummers should bring their own cymbals and kick pedals; thrones and snares may also be brought if desired. Harmonica players may (but are not required to) bring their own harp amp. Keyboard players are allowed (but are not required) to bring their own keyboard and keyboard amps. Keyboard stands will be provided. Effects racks and other auxiliary equipment are permitted. Musicians must include on the online registration form any additional or special equipment needed.


Musicians should bring their own DI boxes. Every effort will be made to provide suitable equipment. Exceptions to the backline and equipment rules may only be granted pursuant to a formal written petition submitted in writing and received via email by the Challenge Director ( no less than 15 days prior to the competition. Make sure to also include a request in the act’s online registration. With the number of bands participating, it is impossible for us to allow every player to bring every piece of equipment that they wish, space considerations prohibit it. Thus, any petition for an equipment waiver must include a compelling reason for exclusion.


* * * ORBS reserves the right to use any contestant’s name, voice, pictures, visages, and other likeness for the purpose of advertising, publishing and promoting the ORBS.


ORBS reserves the right to videotape or otherwise record all ORBS performances. ORBS shall retain total ownership of all recordings and programs, and reserves the right to edit the program, the right to broadcast the program, the right to copyright the program and the right to license others to use these rights. * * *

Should you have any questions or concerns, ORBS staff is always an email or phone call away to assist you. Please do not hesitate to call on us:


IRA BARGER, CHALLENGE DIRECTOR  **********  ORBS318@GMAIL.COM  **********  (318) 348-0852

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