By Julie Lawrence Special to Published May 09, 2008 at 7:57 AM

The Grafton Blues Association is an organization committed to keeping Grafton's charged blues history alive and the Milwaukee area's current blues scene active.

It celebrates the blues pioneers of Paramount Records, Grafton's famed recording studio that closed in 1932, and provides ample opportunity for today's blues musicians to play live.

For the past three years it's hosted the Paramount Blues Festival, but this Saturday, May 10 is the first ever Grafton Blues Challenge. The battle of the blues bands brings together eight area groups to compete, ultimately, for the chance to play at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis in February 2009.

Past winners of the IBC include Michael Burks, Tommy Castro, Albert Cummings, Delta Moon, Zac Harmon, Susan Tedeschi and Watermelon Slim.

"I was a blues novice when I first got wind of the Paramount history then I became hooked," says the Grafton Blues Association president Kris Raymond.

"The blues community is a close, supportive community and once you've been bitten, you just can't get enough! The Blues challenge is another way we are supporting the local bands. One band will have the chance of a lifetime -- to go to Memphis and perform before many record labels, DJs and agents from around the world -- what an opportunity."

The Challenge takes place at Circle B Recreation Center, 6261 Hwy. 60 in Cedarburg, and there is a $10 cover.

The line-up:
6-6:30 p.m. -- Hounds Tooth
6:40-7:10 p.m. -- The Back Alley Band
7:20-7:50 p.m. -- Charles Walker Band
8-8:30 p.m. -- Maple Road
8:40-9:10 p.m. -- Kenny J & Blue Wagon
9:20-9:50 p.m. -- Queenie & the Blue Cats
10-10:30 p.m. -- Sue DaBaco & Wise Fools
10:40-11:10 p.m. -- TBA

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”