Kevin “B.F.” Burt, IBC champion, reflects on Iowa’s rich blues history

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Kevin “B.F.”Genevieve Trainor/Little Village

Kevin “B.F.” Burt is unstoppable.

As a young adult working five jobs (two full-time, three part-time) in Iowa City after a football injury in his senior year of college derailed his intended future, music was the last thing on Burt’s mind. But once he got started — auditioning as a singer for a band at the insistence of one of his bosses (whose praise at his ability was met with a characteristically self-effacing “Alright, whatever”) — his tenacity, fearlessness and ingenuity set him on a trajectory that inevitably led toward his win this winter at the prestigious International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Burt was the second Iowan to win an award at the festival (Des Moines’ Rob Lumbard won Best Self-Produced CD in 2016), the first Iowan to win in the Solo/Duo category and the first artist in the festival’s 34-year history to sweep the solo categories — he also won the Solo/Duo Cigar Box Guitar Award for most promising acoustic player and the Lee Oskar Harmonica Award.

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