2016 Music Competitions

Contest finals on the main stage (photo Benko Photographics)
Contest finals on the main stage
(photo Benko Photographics)

We are still accepting entries in the 2016 instrument contests! Enter the instrument contests right now at shop.bluegrass.com or 800-624-2422. Sorry, the band contest is completely full.

Since the first Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival in 1973, the band and instrument contests have been a central part of the festival experience. Past instrument finalists have included Mark O'Connor (1974), Tim O'Brien (1975) and Jake Jolliff (2007), as well as recent band winners Steep Canyon Rangers (2001), The Railsplitters (2013), and Rapidgrass Quintet (2015).

Cheer on the next generation of musicians in the Wildflower Pavilion and on the main stage as they vie for beautiful instruments, cash prizes, well-deserved recognition, and coveted spots on the main stage.

Instrument Contests

2015 Instrument Contest Winners
2015 Instrument Contest Winners

The RockyGrass Music Competitions are traditional bluegrass competitions that began at the 1st Annual Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival in 1973. Instrumentalists compete on flatpick guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro, and fiddle to receive beautiful instruments and cash prizes. The preliminary round is held in the Wildflower Pavilion on Friday and the final rounds are held on the RockyGrass main stage on Saturday morning for all to enjoy -- with many of the finalists' performances broadcast live on KGNU Boulder-Denver.

Instrument Contest Registration

Spaces are still available in several of the 2016 RockyGrass instrument contests (banjo, fiddle and dobro). The registration fee is $15 per contest. Reserve your space now at shop.bluegrass.com or 800-624-2422.

Note that since the contests are held inside the Festival grounds, all instrument contestants must have Festival passes. If you're a prospective instrument contestant needing a festival pass, call our office at 800-624-2422. We may be able to help you out.

2016 RockyGrass Instrument Contest Prizes

Immediately after the final rounds on the main stage, the winner of each contest will be awarded a finely crafted new (or vintage) instrument.

Deering John Hartford Banjo
Deering's American-made Hartford model banjo, designed and built for legendary banjoist/performer John Hartford, has the world renonwn Deering Grenadillo (wood) tone ring. The dark walnut stained, satin finished maple neck and resonator are highlighted by the Steamboat-style, fingerboard inlays and Paramount style peghead. No other banjo in the world sounds like a Hartford. Powerful, sweet, warm and rich with no shortage of volume makes this banjo super versatile as well as lighter in weight than a bronze tone ring banjo. The wood tone ring ages like a violin or guitar, faster than bronze tone ring banjos. Top
Gibson J-29 Guitar
Introduced in 2014, the J-29 acoustic guitar represents a new direction for Gibson's round-shoulder dreadnought body style. This inaugural J-29 model features the classic tonewood combination of a rosewood back and sides topped by Sitka spruce. The rich and full-bodied tone this produces is the basis for acoustic guitar tone in general. But that's just the beginning. Paired with Gibson's '30s-style bracing and short-scale neck, the J-29 rewards you with easy playing feel and a phenomenal amount of natural acoustic projection. Top
Gibson Sam Bush Signature Model F-5 Mandolin
Gibson is proud to present a Sam Bush Signature Model Mandolin to the winner of the RockyGrass mandolin contest. This handsome instrument features the most select figured maple back, sides, and neck. The top is select spruce, and it has an accurate '20s dovetail neck joint. The neck is unfinished on its back, and has the chunky profile of the late '30s. Its ebony fingerboard has mother-of-pearl block inlays, and string spacing is set to Sam Bush's specs. Finished in hand-rubbed nitrocellulose lacquer and sandblasted gold-plated hardware. The tailpiece sports Sam's signature. Top
Jerry Douglas Signature BlackBeard ™ guitar
Paul Beard and resonator guitar virtuoso Jerry Douglas have developed an exclusive family of signature guitars, designed around their drive for sonic perfection. The Jerry Douglas Signature series includes, the standard Jerry Douglas Signature, the Jerry Douglas Limited Signature Model, Jerry Douglas Signature BlackBeard™, RedBeard™, BrownBeard™ and BlondeBeard™, all of which are individually handmade with great care here at the Beard shop and sold exclusively by Beard Guitars LLC and its dealers. A simple beauty, the Jerry Douglas Signature Blackbeard™ derives its warm clear tone from all mahogany construction. The translucent black finish gives the Blackbeard its name. Top
J.F. Devereux Fiddle
The graduations, bass bar and setup of this violin were done with bluegrass and new acoustic music in mind, but in such a way that it retains the projection and response that would satisfy a classical player. This violin is a high-quality European factory violin, purchase in the white, voiced and varnished by Jack Devereux, then finished with a traditional linseed oil and resin varnish, in the style of the great Italian makers of the eighteenth century. Jack Devereaux served as an apprentice to renowned violin maker Jonathan Cooper of Portland ME, before returning to Asheville, NC to establish his own shop. Jack also tours with the bluegrass band Town Mountain.Top
The 2nd place finisher on each instrument will receive a check for $100 and the 3rd place finisher on each instrument will receive a check for $50. All 3 finalists on each instrument will also receive a commemorative RockyGrass Instrument Contest award ribbon.

2016 Contest

The preliminary round is held on Friday, July 29 in the Wildflower Pavilion (inside the Festival grounds). The 3 top contestants on each instrument will advance to the contest finals on the Festival main stage on Saturday, July 30. Here are the schedules for each instrument:

RockyGrass Instrument Contest Rules

Pickers & Fiddlers Score in the Following Categories

Instrument Contest Prizes

In addition, all 3 finalists on each instrument will also receive a commemorative RockyGrass Instrument Contest award ribbon.

2016 RockyGrass Band Competition

2015 band winners RapidGrass (photo Benko Photographics)
2015 band winners RapidGrass
(photo Benko Photographics)

Bands perform around a single microphone in the Wildflower Pavilion on Saturday (preliminary round) and Sunday (final round) in the Wildflower Pavilion. Awards include an invitation to play a set at the 2017 Festival, cash prizes, and more. Past winners of the RockyGrass band contest include Steep Canyon Rangers, Chatham County Line, Town Mountain, Blue Canyon Boys, Front Country, The Railsplitters, and 2015 winners RapidGrass.

2016 Contest Bands

 

2016 Band Contest Registration

2015 Band Contest Finalists (photo Benko Photographics)
2015 Band Contest Finalists
(photo Benko Photographics)

Band Competition Prizes

2016 Band Competition Schedule

2016 Band Competition Rules

Bands Score in These Categories

2015 Contest Winners

2015 Band Contest Winners

2015 Banjo Contest Winner Mike Coker (photo Benko Photographics)
2015 Banjo Contest Winner Mike Coker
(photo Benko Photographics)

Congrats to the winners of the 2015 RockyGrass band contest Rapidgrass, along with other top finalists Twisted Pine (2nd) and The Blackberry Bushes (3rd). For the first time in recent memory, the band contest required an additional 1-song tie-breaker for our judges to select the winning band!

2015 Instrument Contest Finalists

Congratulations to the winners and finalists in each instrument contest. These top 3 musicians on each instrument will perform in the contest finals on the main stage on Saturday, July 25.