Congratulations to the 2016 Iowa Blues Challenge Champions – Bare Bones in the Solo/Duo category and the Jeff Banks Band in the Band category.

Complete Results:

Solo/Duo Champion – Bare Bones
Solo/Duo Runner up – Bruce Kort
Solo/Duo 3rd Place – Steve Robinson

Band Champion – Jeff Banks Band
Band Runner up – The Royal Blues
Band 3rd Place – Diva & the Deacons



Downtown Des Moines Marriott

Admission at the door is $15 ($10 for members of any Iowa Blues Society
with a current card). There are no advance ticket sales for this event.


6:00 – 6:30 pm – Steve Robinson Fairfield
6:45 – 7:15 pm – Bruce Kort Quad Cities
7:30 – 8:00 pm – Bare Bones Des Moines


8:15 – 8:45 pm – The Royal Blues Quad Cities
9:00 – 9:30 pm – Diva & the Deacons Newton
9:45 – 10:15 pm – Jeff Banks Band Des Moines

The preliminary rounds are complete and the lineup is now set for the 2016 Iowa Blues Challenge Finals on Saturday, June 18th at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott.  Admission at the door is $15,  $10 for members of any Iowa Blues Society with a current card.  There are no advance ticket sales for this event.

6:00 – 6:30 pm – Steve Robinson – Fairfield Solo/Duo winner

Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is a songwriter who calls Des Moines, Iowa home.  Descriptions of Steve’s music have been as diverse as the music he makes. Steve utilizes a blend of rock, blues, soul, and experimental sounds for his audience to enjoy his commanding stage show. As a solo acoustic performer or with a full band this charismatic locomotive led by a voice that is part primal scream and soulful swagger captivates audiences and takes them on a ride.

While traveling around America and New Zealand Steve has earned a following of eclectic fans. Steve released his album ‘Hello from the Up-Down Room.’ on Mushroom Cloud Records in 2007. Touring, record sales and radio support have allowed the band to get spins on college radio and stocking the shelves of record stores across the Midwest and Northwest of America.

Please See full bio at

6:45 – 7:15 pm – Bruce Kort – Quad Cities Solo/Duo winner

Bruce Kort

Bruce Kort is a musician traveling the Midwest who is best known for his lifelong career in the blues field, in addition to his repertoire of old jazz and tin pan alley, hard country and bluegrass and  anything else that is native to North America. Born in Elgin, Illinois, he grew up and spent most of his life in the Chicago area, soaking up the sounds of the then – vibrant  Chicago blues scene. He started playing professionally in the late 70’s with various local musicians, picking up on any influence that came through the area. It wasn’t until the late 80’s that he started to gain some notice with his blues band, “The Dairyland Aces”. Aside from their own shows through northern Illinois and Wisconsin, they also opened for legendary bluesmen, including  Lonnie Brooks, Son Seals, Eddy Clearwater, Phil Guy, The Mellow Fellows, Eddie Shaw, Barkin’ Bill Smith and a host of others. They also hosted the Budweiser Bluesbreakers Battle of the Bands for several years, as well as making Several appearances at Wrigley Field in the early nineties, playing prior to Cubs games. As the nineties wound down, he concentrated on solo as well as duet performances with blues piano player Randy Adolf, working on songs as well as improving his technique and vocal style. Now a resident of the Driftless area of northwestern Illinois, he  travels and plays throughout the tri state region as well as other Midwest venues. He also occasionally makes appearances with his blues band, “The Infarctions!” playing regularly at Flatted Fifth as well as other festivals and venues. Be prepared to hear raw, Chicago style blues as well as jump blues and boogie on guitar and harmonica, along with full bodied vocals.

7:30 – 8:00 pm – Bare Bones – Des Moines Solo/Duo winner

Bare Bones

Drummer and New Jersey native Dwight Dario first came to Iowa in 1974 where he spent time playing in the Mother Blues Band, the 3rd Street Sliders with Bo Ramsey, The Little Red Rooster Band, Bob Reidy’s Chicago Blues Show with Johnny Littlejohn and in a duo with fellow Iowa Blues Hall of Famer Joe Price.  Dwight left Iowa in 1984 and settled in the Twin Cities.  He spent 5 years with Blues Deluxe with R.J. Mischo, and then 14 years with the Big George Jackson Blues Band, with whom he toured Europe 12 times.

Guitarist Bob Pace has entertained Midwest audiences for more than 40 years.  He led the Tuesday night house band at the legendary Blues on Grand for 20 of those years.  He’s a proud member of the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame and the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.  Bob has jammed with Eric Sardinas, Sonny Rhodes, Junior Wells, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Tab Benoit, John Mayall and many others.

Bare Bones is two Blues veterans getting together to create their own brand of raw, stripped down, butt shakin’, high energy Blues.

8:15 – 8:45 pm – The Royal Blues – Quad Cities Band winner

Royal Blues

Matthew Fuller is 16 years old and has been playing since he was 8 years old.  His main influences are Albert King, Albert Collins , B.B. King, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan and his uncle Joe Peña.  He has played with a lot of people over the years, including: Bernard Allison, Billy Branch, Anthony Gomes, Samantha Fish and many more.  He can play various styles, but Blues is his favorite.

John Peña has 50 years experience in music.  He is the founding member of the legendary Peña Brothers and also Serious Business.  He has played with Luther Allison, Ron Thompson and has shared the same bill with John Lee Hooker, Bobby Blue Bland, Koko Taylor and Son Seals, to name a few.  He is also a veteran of 10 MVBS Festivals and a finalist in the IBC Challenge in Memphis in 1986 and 1987.

Terry Patton has been playing drums for over 45 years.  He played in many local and nationally known bands, including Midnight Express, Hal Reed and Mississippi Journey, Network from Minnesapolis, and Terry did a tour with Zap from Dayton, OH.  He’s been a veteran of the music scene for many years.

9:00 – 9:30 pm – Diva & the Deacons – Newton Band winner

Diva & the Deacons

Diva and the Deacons is a musical tribe of true blues lovers eager to blow your mind with energetic renditions of first class blues tunes from all the colors of the blues rainbow.  Under the leadership of the dynamic and soulful lovebird duo, 2015 Iowa Blues Challenge duo champions, Tina and Brandon, every show by this great group is one heavenly blues celebration.

Already honored at the tender age of 50 with the terms “legend” and “icon”, the awardwinning vocals of Tina Haase Findlay have made their mark throughout the blues realm as well as in jazz, rock, soul, gospel, commercial jingles, and musical theatre.  During her 30-plus year professional career, she has opened for and/or shared the stage with such luminaries as Bruce Katz, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Andrew ‘Jr. Boy’ Jones, Robert Cray, Renee Austin, Damon Fowler, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Tea Leaf Green, Eddie Money, Trampled Underfoot, Mike Farris, and many more.  A two time Iowa Blues Challenge finalist with The Groove Merchants and Bella Soul, Tina humbly considers herself creatively wealthy and effervescently youthful due to the constant inspiration of all her talented friends way too numerous to name from the regional and local music scenes that have graciously indulged her hobby of being a “collaboration junkie”!

Standing right beside the diva for most of those thrilling guest moments, Brandon Findlay has dove into the deepest end in tribute to his greatest bass inspirations, the late great Allen Woody of Gov’t Mule fame, as well as one whom he is honored to call friend, mentor, and “homeboy”, the incomparable Scot Sutherland.  A previous Blues Challenge finalist with Bella Soul, Brandon was the lead guitarist of Lady Blue and Bella Soul, and has written, co-written, and/or arranged many of the hits in those bands’ catalogs.  In addition, he is an accomplished civic arts and culture advocate, and a freelance music journalist who has had the pleasure of interviewing some of his personal music heroes, including Marc Ford, Ray Manzarek of The Doors, Derek Trucks, and the one the Findlays call ‘Jesus on the guitar’, Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule.

Joining Tina and Brandon for this blues adventure are two true deacons, onstage and off, Ricc Terranova on guitar and Nate McDonald on drums.  Tina and Brandon are blessed to present them for you to add to your list of favorite players and favorite people.  Born in Fleetwood, England, and a graduate of Liverpool University, Ricc is quite simply a British blues phenom, making his mark in bands such as Superchief, Bella Soul, and Abby Normal.  Visit him at Professional Music Center in Clive, IA for his expert assistance on all your musical instrument needs.

Nate McDonald is a torch bearer of millennial drumming excellence.  From a two generation legacy of drum expertise, Nate is earning his Masters Degree from Truman State University in Missouri.  In addition to his deacon blues time, he also pounds with The Des Moines Community Jazz Center Big Band, and is currently working on an album with the Matt Cook Collective of Kansas City.

DIVA is an acronym meaning Divine Inspiration Victorious Attitude, and Deacon is a word that means one who serves.  So Tina, Brandon, Ricc, and Nate consider their Deacon mission to be serving up a feast of true DIVA-style blues for your body, mind, heart, and soul.

9:45 – 10:15 pm – Jeff Banks Band – Des Moines Band winner

Jeff Banks Band

From the first note to the last, the funky, original sound of the Jeff Banks Band will titillate your ears and soothe your soul.  Jeff Banks, along with Justin Appel on keys, Kip Heaberlin on bass and Scott Dawson on drums, brings the true spirit of the blues to life.






2016 IABC Sponsors

Thanks to the sponsors of the 2016 Iowa Blues Challenge

2016 Iowa Blues Challenge Prize Package:

1st Place Solo/Duo:  $250 cash, 8 hours recording time courtesy of Junior’s Motel in Otho, Opportunities for paid gigs, including the Winter Blues Fest, Parks Area Sweet Corn Day and more & Entry into and $300 travel expenses for the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN.

2nd Place Solo Duo:  $150 cash

3rd Place Solo/Duo:  $100 cash

1st Place Band:  $500 cash, 8 hours recording time courtesy of Junior’s Motel in Otho, Opportunities for paid gigs, including the Winter Blues Fest, Parks Area Sweet Corn Day, BBQ ‘Loo & Blues Too and more & Entry into and $1200 travel expenses for the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN.

2nd Place Band:  $300 cash

3rd Place Band:  $200 cash