Congrats to the 2018 winners Garrett Owen and Wood Belly

2018 Music Contests

The Lil' Smokies performing in the Contest Finals (photo Benko Photographics)
2017 band winners Sugar & the Mint
(photo Benko Photographics)

Once again, songwriters and bands from around the country will take part in the nationally recognized Telluride Troubadour and band competitions, vying for beautiful instruments, cash prizes, an EP recording package, and well-deserved international recognition.

Be inspired by these fine songwriters and great string bands on Thursday and Friday at Elks Park (free workshop stage in downtown Telluride). Then enjoy the finalists on the Festival main stage on Saturday morning (band contest) and Saturday evening (Troubadour winner).

Telluride Troubadour Contest

The Telluride Troubadour Competition is a nationally recognized songwriter competition open to anyone who writes and performs original music and who is not currently signed to a major recording or publishing deal. Contestants are judged on the quality of the song’s composition, vocal delivery, and the overall performance. Finalists are awarded cash and prizes, as well as critical acclaim, well-deserved recognition, and a chance to perform on the festival main stage!

The Telluride Troubadour Competition has been held in conjunction with the Telluride Bluegrass Festival since 1991. Previous winners include Larry Good (1991), Cosy Sheridan (1992), Dan Sheridan (1993), Catie Curtis (1994), LJ Booth (1995), Michael Lille (1996), Jonathan Kingham (1997), Eugene Ruffolo (1998), Libby Kirkpatrick (1999), Mary Coppin (2000), Kris Delmhorst (2001), Deb Talan (2002), Rachel Davis (2003), Brian Joseph (2004), Keith Greeninger (2005), Nels Andrews (2006), Gregory Alan Isakov (2007), Nathan Moore (2008), Mitch Barrett (2009), Robby Hecht (2010), Matt Harlan (2011), Reed Waddle (2012), Reed Turner (2013), Michael Kirkpatrick (2014), Caitlin Canty (2015), Anna Tivel (2016), and 2017 winner Clint Alphin.

Contest Finals in Telluride

After 2 inspiring performance rounds on the Elks Park stage, congratulations to the 2018 Telluride Troubadour winner Garrett Owen and the other top 5 finalists! Celebrate with Garrett on Saturday evening as he performs a 15-minute set on the main stage at 6:15pm.

  1. Garrett Owen (Dallas, TX)
  2. Rob Nance (Durham, NC)
  3. Jackson Emmer (Carbondale, CO)
  4. Kora Feder (Brooklyn, NY)
  5. Lydia Luce (Los Angeles)
Be sure to check out the songwriter in-the-round sets Saturday and Sunday at Elks Park featuring all 10 of this year's Troubadour finalists.

2018 Troubadour Finalists

We're excited to announce the 10 finalists who will perform throughout the 45th Telluride Bluegrass Festival (June 21-24). Once again we were inspired by the more than 400 entries we received from around the world. These 10 finalists will perform in contest rounds on Telluride's Elks Park stage, in Troubadour-In-The-Round sets at Elks Park throughout the festival, during the festival broadcast, and for short 'tweener sets on the festival main stage.

2018 Troubadour Honorable Mentions

2018 Troubadour Schedule in Telluride

2018 Rules and Guidelines

2018 Troubadour Prizes

2017 Telluride Troubadour finalists
2017 Telluride Troubadour finalists

Entering the Troubadour Contest


2018 Telluride Band Contest 

The Lil' Smokies performing in the Contest Finals (photo Benko Photographics)
The Lil' Smokies performing in the Contest Finals
(photo Benko Photographics)

The Telluride Band Contest is a nationally-recognized bluegrass contest. Finalists are awarded cash and prizes, as well as critical acclaim, well-deserved recognition, and a spot on the 2019 lineup to perform on the festival main stage. Registration for the 2018 band contest will open in early December.

Past winners include the Dixie Chicks, Ryan Shupe & the Rubberband, Greensky Bluegrass, Spring Creek, Blue Canyon Boys, The Hillbenders, Nora Jane Struthers & the Bootleggers, Run Boy Run, Front Country, Trout Steak Revival, The Lil' Smokies, Fireball Mail, and 2017 winners Sugar & the Mint.

2018 Band Winners

Congratulations to the 2018 Telluride Band Contest winners Wood Belly and the other top 4 finalists. Wood Belly are now the first band officially confirmed for the 2019 Telluride Bluegrass main stage lineup!

  1. Wood Belly (Denver, CO)
  2. The Get Down Boys (Huntington Beach, CA)
  3. Stillhouse Junkies (Durango, CO)
  4. Scott Slay & The Rail (Lakewood, CO)

2018 Contest Bands

Join us in cheering on these bluegrass bands from around the country during the contest prelims on Friday, June 22 at Elks Park. Bands will perform in a randomly selected order.

2018 Telluride Band Competition Prizes

2018 Band Competition Schedule

EP Recording Package Details

eTown Hall studio
Airshow Mastering Boulder
Thanks to our recording partners: eTown Hall Studio and Airshow Mastering Boulder.

To make sure the winning band has something great-sounding to sell at their 2019 main stage debut, the winning band will receive an EP recording package from two complementary Boulder studios. They'll track and mix at eTown Hall Studio and finish up with mastering at Airshow Boulder.

*An EP is defined as "up to 20 minutes, up to 5 songs." The prize includes up to 12 hours of tracking time and six hours of mix time, and up to 4 hours of mastering plus master parts. Mastering includes a master for CD manufacturing and a set of 24-bit master files for digital distribution or vinyl pressing. This prize may be applied to a larger work, with the band paying the studios' customary rates for additional time or parts. The prize must be used by Mar 30, 2018.

Telluride Band Competition Rules

Bands Score in These Categories

2014 Troubadour Finalists (photo Benko Photographics)
2014 Troubadour Finalists & Luthier Michael Hornick
(photo Benko Photographics)

Tips from the Telluride Band Contest Judges

2018 Contest Registration


2017 Contest Winners

2017 Troubadour Finalists

Congratulations to the 2017 Telluride Troubadour winner Clint Alphin. Clint will performed a main stage set at 5:45pm on Saturday. Our judges (and audience) were inspired by all 10 of the songwriters who joined us in Telluride for the 2 performance rounds at Elks Park on Thursday and Friday. Here are this year's top 5 finalists:

  1. Clint Alphin (Nashville, TN)
  2. Heather Mae (Washington, DC)
  3. Lauren Pratt (Boston, MA)
  4. Heather Aubrey Lloyd (Baltimore, MD)
  5. Chase Gassaway (Austin, TX)

And congratulations to the other 2017 Troubadour finalists:

Check out the SoundCloud stream of songs from each of this year's finalists.

2017 Band Finalists

Congratulations to the 2017 Telluride Band Contest winners Sugar & the Mint. They are now the first officially confirmed band for the lineup of the 45th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival - June 21-24, 2018! Congratulations also to the other top finalists in the 2017 contest:

  1. Sugar & the Mint (Prescott, AZ)
  2. The Lonesome Days (Denver, CO)
  3. Meadow Mountain (Denver, CO)
  4. The Wooks (Lexington, KY)