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Crossroads to Memphis Local IBC Challenge - Meet the Judges

NJBS will be participating in the Blues Foundation's 2024 International Blues Challenge. First step is to hold a local competition -- Crossroads to Memphis Local IBC Challenge -- on Saturday, June 17th at The Stanhope House from 11 am to 4 pm -- tickets.

There are two categories in the competition -- solo/duo and bands Once band registration closes on 5/31, the participating bands and schedule will be released.

Meet the Crossroads to Memphis Local IBC Challenge judges. The judges are blues professionals and aficionados with a deep understanding and historical perspective of all blues forms:

Jamie Anthony

Jamie Anthony spent over 40 years in commercial financial and insurance underwriting most recently as CEO of a global insurance brokerage and as a commercial finance intermediary. Jamie retired from commercial finance and insurance in 2008. From 2007 – 2019 Jamie served as advisor and chairman of the board of trustees of a network of 20 non-profit food pantries, Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity, Inc. (MEND) which serves more than 300,000 individuals in need annually in northern New Jersey. Since 2009, Jamie has also pursued his passion for blues music and its history by supporting and producing events and podcasts through the non-profit, Blues Disciples Media, Inc.

Jay Lustig

Jay Lustig is the founder, editor and main writer for the web site,, which covers the music and arts scene in New Jersey and beyond. Prior to that, he was a music critic and arts and entertainment editor at the state's largest newspaper, The Star-Ledger, and a writer and editor at the weekly music newspaper, East Coast Rocker. Among the many musicians he has interviewed are Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, David Bowie and Buddy Guy.

Eliza Neals

Eliza Neals is a Detroit, Michigan-born, New Jersey-based blues-rocker who has recently released the 10-track album “Badder To The Bone.” Blues Music Magazine hailed her as having a voice that “shares a Janis Joplin and Etta James singing style, but her own unique and tremendous talents make her specifically superior and very, very likable.” American Blues Scene praised her by saying: “Trained in opera but with the grit of Koko Taylor, Neals’ voice is like sand in a velvet bag, fired from a shotgun. Sonically, this is the kind of nasty, hyper-electrified, gut-bucket blues that holds your huevos at knife point. She has proven that women have every place in the blues world, and can run with the biggest dogs in the yard.” A protégé’ of Mississippi-born songwriter Barrett Strong, several of Neals' songs have been played on Sirius XM's blues satellite radio channel, among them “Another Lifetime,” “Black Crow Moan,” “Sugar Daddy” and “Queen of the Nile.” She has performed with or opened for such music luminaries as Barrett Strong, George Clinton, The Four Tops, Walter Trout, Poppa Chubby, Victor Wainwright, Joe Louis Walker and others.

Don Jay Smith

Don Jay Smith has many years of public relations and marketing communications experience, and still produces many programs every year. He has worked in the arts and entertainment field for much of that time, with a roster of clients that has included the New Jersey State Council for the Arts/Secretary of State, the New Jersey Hall of Fame, NJCU, the Whole Theatre with Olympia Dukakis, the Madison (NJ) Arts and Culture Alliance, the Community Theatre in Morristown, the New Jersey Jazz Society, First Night, the Bickford Theatre and Carolyn Dorfman Dance among others. He is one of the founders and is the producer for the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival and is a regular contributor to Hot House Jazz Magazine.

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