2015 Music Competitions

2015 Instrument Contest Winners
2015 Instrument Contest Winners

Congratulations to all the 2015 contest winners: band contest winners Rapidgrass and instrument contest winners Mike Coker (banjo), Brett Bass (guitar), Tyler Rennix (mandolin), Natalie Koob (fiddle) and Jesse Friedberg (dobro).

Since the first Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival in 1973, the band and instrument contests have been a central part of the festival experience. Cheer on the next generation of musicians as they vie for beautiful instruments, cash prizes, well-deserved recognition, and coveted spots on the main stage.

2015 Instrument Contests

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

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.

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. (Finalists are listed in alphabetical order.)

2015 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
The 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 Acoustic'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
Dobro Hound Dog Deluxe Square Neck
In addition to the bridge’s ebony saddle which sits atop a maple base, the full warm tone of the Hound Dog Deluxe Square Neck is enhanced and projected by a new proprietary nickel plated Dobro® cone with a nickel fan cover plate and round sound holes with screens and classic f holes. The Hound Dog Deluxe Square Neck really howls thanks to a cutting edge Fishman resonator pickup. Epiphone has taken great care to make sure the Hound Dog Deluxe Square Neck has the classic sound and feel of this American original. Top
1948 A. Schroetter Fiddle
From the private collection of Scherer Violins, this handmade violin was built in Mittenwald, West Germany in 1948. Featuring maple back and sides, this well seasoned instrument has been lovingly restored. It includes a new case. 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.

2015 Contest

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

The preliminary round is held on Friday, July 24 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 25. Here are the schedules for each instrument:

RockyGrass Instrument Contest Rules

Pickers & Fiddlers Score in the Following Categories


2015 RockyGrass Band Competition

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

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 2016 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 2014 winners Caribou Mountain Collective.

2015 Contest Bands

2009 Band Contest Finalists
2009 Band Contest Finalists
(photo Benko Photographics)

2015 Band Contest Registration

Band Competition Prizes

2015 Band Competition Schedule

2015 Band Competition Rules

Bands Score in These Categories