As a show of support for the International Blues Challenge that we spotlighted last week, Chuck Porter of WEVL fame is posting updates here from the IBC, one of this city’s signature music events.

Here’s the latest as the Blues Challenge is poised to begin in earnest:

January 29, 7:30 p.m.

Today the atmosphere around the Blues Foundation offices at 49 Union Avenue began to take on a lot more action as the International Blues Challenge ramps up.

The volunteer side of the event is nothing more than taking the puzzle pieces and placing them where they belong. If any of the hundreds of pieces are out of place, there’s a big problem.

Executive Director Jay Sieleman and International Blues Challenge Producer Joe Whitmer have been working on this year’s event since the middle of last summer. Jenn Ocken from Baton Rouge arrived yesterday and began taking over the Silent Auction that Jay had been organizing prior to this week. One of the Blues Foundations part-time employees, Glenda Mace, began to wrap up the online ticket sales before lunch this morning and printing any checks that Jay will need to take care of business before the weekend is over.

In other words, today is like the day before you go on vacation. You’re trying to remember things you’ll need while you’re away and know there are things you’re going to forget. Today is also the day that Joe begins to get a little more nervous about things, not to mention his new wife, Sarah Negri–Whitmer who received her credentials(green card) to begin her journey as an American citizen this morning.

Sarah is from a blues family in Italy that is very familiar with the workings of world blues festivals and the world blues community. She stepped in the office today and immediately began working the graphics program needed to make signs and badges and anything else Joe needed.

Also arriving today was Greg Johnson from Portland, Oregon, who worked with Joe on printing passes needed for performers, judges, staff and volunteers. Greg also worked with Sarah and Jenn to get the merchandise in order. Greg will be in charge of any merchandise during this year’s event.

For me, today was making sure the specifics for Wednesday night’s artists, who are performing at the Grizzlies game, had their credentials and that their load-in and necessary equipment was taken care of. I also spent today working on each packet that each Venue Coordinator will receive. As a producer of previous events, preparing packets is not much more than making sure everything is there that may answer questions that have been brought up at past events.

We’re looking good! Tomorrow the bands begin to arrive, more volunteers become involved and things begin to happen. Stay tuned…