2016 Music Contests
|2014 Troubadour Finalists & Luthier Michael Hornick
(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 and well deserved 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).
Congratulations to the 2015 Contest Winners: Caitlin Canty and The Lil' Smokies!
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), and 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), and Caitlin Canty (2015).
2016 Troubadour Schedule
- Preliminary Round.
Approx Noon, Thursday, June 16th. Elks Park Stage (across from the Sheridan Opera House on Main Street).
- Final Round.
Approx 2:45pm, Friday, June 17th. Elks Park Stage.
- The Troubadour winner performs a fifteen minute set at 5:45pm on Saturday evening, June 19th on the Festival Main Stage in front of 10,000 joyous Festivarians from all over the world. Award is presented on stage immediately prior to performance.
2016 Rules and Guidelines
- Sorry, no co-writes. Songwriting entries must be entirely written by the entering songwriter.
- We encourage songwriters to submit new / different songs for the Telluride Troubadour and Folks Showcase contests.
- Contestants cannot be signed to a third-party record label or publishing deal. This competition is meant for emerging and independent performing songwriters.
- All CDs must be postmarked or submitted by April 8, 2016 to be eligible.
- Ten finalists will be chosen for the preliminary round in Telluride. Notification will take place by April 29, 2016.
- Each finalist will receive the following:
- a complimentary four day pass to the 43rd Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival (June 16-19) that includes camping for one
- an “in the round” performance slot in Elks park
- a live radio spot
- a performance coaching session
- and a chance to perform a “tweener” song on the main stage during the festival.
|Michael Hornick of Shanti Guitars with Troubadour Reed Waddle
(photo Benko Photographics)
- Finalists will play 2 original songs in the preliminary round and the top five finalists will play 2 original songs in the final round.
- Finalists may not repeat songs from preliminaries in the finals.
- Recommended time limit: 5 minutes per song. Points will be deducted for significantly exceeding this limit.
- Acoustic instruments with pickups are permitted as well as EQ devices but no effects.
- Instruments allowed are those that can be carried out to the mics with the performer. A keyboard will be provided if necessary.
- No backup musicians allowed. This is a solo competition.
2016 Troubadour Prizes
- 1st Place: Custom Shanti guitar and $300
- 2nd Place: $500 & Martin Travel Guitar
- 3rd Place: $400 & Martin Travel Guitar
- 4th Place: $300 & Martin Travel Guitar
- 5th Place: $200 & Martin Travel Guitar
- 6th - 10th Place: $100
- Each finalist also receives: an "in the round" workshop spot in Elks Park, a performance coaching session, and a tweener main stage spot over the festival weekend.
Entering the 2016 Troubadour Contest
- We will begin accepting submissions for the 2016 Telluride Troubadour contest in early December.
- The entrance fee is $10 per song. Contestants may submit up to two original songs.
- Songs can be submitted two ways:
- Submit online: contestants may submit their songs electronically through Sonicbids. Online submissions will cost $10/song, payable by credit card.
- Submit by snail mail: send us a CD (no cassette tapes, please) with the songs/tracks for consideration clearly specified. Please enclose checks for $10/song payable to Planet Bluegrass. Limit 2 songs per person. Please do not send any lead sheets, lyrics, publicity, bios, etc. Recordings will not be returned. Send your CD and entrance fee to:
PO Box 769
Lyons, CO 80540
Attn: Telluride Troubadour Contest
2016 Telluride Band Contest
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 2017 lineup to perform on the festival main stage.
Past winners include the Dixie Chicks, Ryan Shupe & the Rubberband, the Pagosa Hot Strings, The Badly Bent, Greensky Bluegrass, Spring Creek, Blue Canyon Boys, The Hillbenders, Nora Jane Struthers & the Bootleggers, Run Boy Run, Front Country, Trout Steak Revival, and 2015 winners The Lil' Smokies.
2016 Contest Registration
- Contest registration opens on December 4, 2015 at 9am MST. Registrations will be accepted phone-only at 800-624-2422.
- We accept the first 12 bands that register, so spaces filled up quickly.
- The registration fee is $75. This registration fee is fully refundable if you notify us before March 11, 2016.
2016 Band Competition Schedule
- Preliminary Round.
Approx 10:00am, Friday, June 17. Elks Park Stage.
- Final Round.
Approx 10:15am, Saturday, June 18. Main Festival stage, inside the Festival grounds. Prizes awarded immediately after the contest.
2016 Telluride Band Competition Prizes
- 1st Place Prize: $750, strings & a main stage slot on the 2017 Telluride Bluegrass lineup.
- 2nd Place: $450 and strings
- 3rd Place: $300 and strings
- 4th Place: $150 and strings
- All band finalists will receive strings courtesy of J. D’Addario and Co.
Telluride Band Competition Rules
Playing the Main Stage at Telluride Bluegrass
- No more than 12 bands will be registered for the band contest.
- Since the final round is held on the main stage on Saturday, each bandmember must have festival passes for at least Saturday.
- Bands may consist of 3-6 members. The music should be “Bluegrass,” “Old Time,” “Western Swing,” or “New Acoustic/Newgrass.”
- Recommended time limit: 3 minutes per song. The judges mark you down if a selection significantly exceeds 3 minutes.
- No electric instruments or pickups allowed, with exception of electric bass and steel guitar (or lap steel). Only one mic will be provided for each band.
- Each band plays 3 songs in the preliminaries and 3 songs in the finals. The 3 band selections must be the following types:
- A slow vocal song
- An instrumental song
- A fast vocal song. Tempos are relative.
- Repeats of songs played in the preliminary round is not allowed in the finals.
- No drum sets or standing percussion allowed.
- Bands entering the contest may have no common members.
Bands Score in These Categories
- 30% Material Selection (taste, difficulty, authenticity/originality...)
- 30% Instrumental Performance (includes ability of soloists and overall instrumental blend)
- 30% Vocal Performance (lead and harmony)
- 10% Stage Presence
|2007 Troubadour Winner
Gregory Alan Isakov
Tips from the Telluride Band Contest Judges
- Music competitions are a test of nerve as much as skill. Your ability to perform elegantly under pressure goes with the territory.
- Scores are not cumulative from the prelims to the finals. The finals are a new contest; everyone starts on a fresh and equal footing.
- Judges may confer to ensure fairness and consistency in the rating process.
- In the event of ties or virtual ties, the judges as a group will be allowed discretion to confer to reach a consensus regarding the winner. A virtual tie is defined as total scores within 5 points of each other. If a “tie-breaker” is called, you must play one song that is different from your previous songs. It’s a good idea to have a tie-breaker tune ready.
- Band winners in previous years are not eligible to enter the Band competitions.
- The contestant order will be randomly assigned at the contest site prior to the start of the competition.
- Contestants should not talk to the judges or the clerks concerning their scores during or after the contest. The decision of the judges is final. Completed judging forms are not available to the contestants or the public. If you have a formal protest, bring it to the head clerk first. They will forward it to the right person.
- Prizes are awarded directly after the final round! Stay nearby if you want to reap the rewards you richly deserve.
- Straying too far from the boundaries of music that is out of the genre of ”Old Timey,” “Bluegrass,” “Western Swing,” or “New Acoustic” will affect you score negatively. The judges are not listening for Jazz, Classical, Rock and Fusion, For example, eight bars of a Charlie Parker solo in the middle of “Old Dan Tucker” is inappropriate, but a swingy, improvised Texas-style chorus in “Gray Eagle” is fine. Idiom is important. The judges in the end, decide if your interpretation crosses over the sometimes fuzzy boundary into another world of music.
- Failure to adhere to the required 3 song-types will result in a severe point reduction to your total score. Song medleys are NOT allowed to be used as one of the songs.
- Band finalists will receive vouchers from the contest clerk immediately after contests to access the backstage area on Saturday morning. Contestants must have a must have purchased a ticket for Saturday’s show and have a wristband to access the backstage area.
2015 Contest Finalists
2015 Band Contest Winners
Congrats to this year's band contest winners The Lil' Smokies who are now the first band officially booked to play at the 2016 Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Saturday morning was another thrilling contest finals on the main stage. Congrats to the top 4 finalists:
- The Lil' Smokies (Missoula, MT)
- The Lonesome Days (Denver, CO
- Running Out Of Road (Durango, CO)
- Fireside Collective (Asheville, NC)
2015 Troubadour Winners
Wow, what an inspiring group of songwriters who joined us in Telluride for this year's Troubadour contest. Congrats to the top 5 finalists as chosen by our judges in the 2 rounds at Elks Park:
- Caitlin Canty (Pittsford, VT)
- Hadley Kennary (Nashville, TN)
- Maria Brosgol (Albany, NY)
- Carter Sampson (Oklahoma, OK)
- Rachael Kilgour (Duluth, MN)
Enjoy this playlist of songs from all 10 of the 2015 Telluride Troubadour finalists...