Guitar Center has announced the return of King of the Blues, the nationwide search for the next great undiscovered blues guitar player. Guitar Center’s King of the Blues will feature competitions in over 200 Guitar Center locations across the country, culminating with the Grand Finals in Los Angeles this November. In addition to showcasing the top five finalists, the King of the Blues Grand Finals will also feature performances by renowned blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa, who has been awarded “Best Blues Guitarist” by Guitar Player Magazine for the past three years, and Grammy Award winner Pete Anderson.
King of the Blues is part of Guitar Center’s ongoing mission to provide emerging artists and musicians with career-altering opportunities and vehicles to achieve success. Other Guitar Center programs include Drum-Off and On-Stage. Now in its 21st year, Guitar Center’s Drum-Off has been a launching pad for numerous professional drummers, including Cora “CC” Dunham (Prince), Eric Moore II (Suicidal Tendencies), Tony Royster Jr. (Jay Z) and Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta). In 2008 Guitar Center also added On-Stage, a search for America’s next great rock band, with close to 8,000 bands vying for an opening slot on Mötley Crüe’s 30+ city North American arena tour. The winning band, The Last Vegas, not only toured with Mötley Crüe, but was also awarded a record deal with Eleven Seven Music and a management contract with Tenth Street Entertainment (Mötley’s management company).
Introduced in 2006, Guitar Center’s King of the Blues is designed to offer similar life-changing opportunities for unsigned guitarists. More than just a competition to find the most technically skilled players, King of the Blues is designed to seek out the most passionate, innovative and authentic undiscovered guitar players and give them a shot at stardom. Some of today’s most iconic and groundbreaking artists, including BB King, John Mayer, The Black Crowes and Kenny Wayne Shepherd have participated at past King of the Blues events, and the winner of Guitar Center’s 2007 King of the Blues, Aaron Loesch, was invited to perform at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival in front of over 25,000 attendees.
With “the Blues” being the foundation for nearly all of today’s popular music, the search for the nation’s greatest undiscovered blues guitarist is expected to unearth a goldmine of unsigned talent, some of whom are destined to become tomorrow’s legends. “The Blues defines today’s music—from Robert Johnson to Jack White and B.B. King to John Mayer,” notes Dustin Hinz, Manager of Event Marketing and Promotions for Guitar Center. “By tapping into this rich and deep musical art form, our goal is to find true original talent—not clones of great guitarists, but rather great guitarists in their own right who deserve a place alongside the legends.”
Guitar Center’s King of the Blues champion will win an impressive package of prizes, including $25,000 cash, a featured spot in a Guitar Center ad campaign, along with a Gibson ’59 Les Paul reissue guitar, a $2,500 Levis shopping spree, a Marshall Vintage Modern 50 watt half stack, a Boss GT-10 Guitar Multi Effects Pedal, a feature in Guitar World magazine, worldwide distribution of their music in iTunes and more, plus endorsement deals from Ernie Ball, Marshall Amplification, VOX Amplification and Gibson. Additional regional, district and local prize packages will also be awarded, thanks to the generous support of Gibson, Levi’s, Ernie Ball, Marshall, Boss, VOX, Guitar World and TuneCore, all of whom are proud supporters of Guitar Center’s King of the Blues
- How It Works:
- Sign-ups for the preliminary rounds of the King of the Blues competition began July 1, and run on a “first-come, first-serve” basis, with a maximum of 30 registrants per store. Contestants must sign up with a Guitar Center associate at their local store -- no phone or online sign-ups are available.
Each contestant will perform live to 1 of 25 original backing tracks, developed by Grammy Award winning producer, Pete Anderson. All backing tracks are available for free download at guitarcenter.com/kingoftheblues (opens in new tab). Contestants may bring and use any 6, 7, or 12 string acoustic or electric guitar, lap steel or pedal steel guitar, plus any audio pedal effects that can be set-up in a 5 minute time limit, all of which will be plugged into a selection of amplifiers provided by Guitar Center.
Local competitions start August 20 in all 214 Guitar Center locations nationwide. One winner from each store will be chosen to move up to district competitions (24 locations), followed by regionally hosted semi-finals (6 locations) and culminating in the final King of the Blues Grand Finals competition in Los Angeles in November, where the grand finalists will perform in front of a live audience and a panel of celebrity judges, sharing the stage with Joe Bonamassa, who was named Best Blues Guitarist by Guitar Player Magazine’s readership in their annual Reader’s Choice Awards for 2008, and whose incendiary playing has resulted in numerous albums in Billboard’s Top 10 blues chart.
Store Prelims: August 20th, August 27th, September 3rd
Store finals: September 10th
District finals: September 30th
Regional finals: October 21st
Grand Finals: November 2009