Timeless Troubadours and Burgeoning Bands

Timeless Troubadours and Burgeoning Bands

Timeless Troubadours and Burgeoning Bands

Timeless Troubadours and Burgeoning Bands

Telluride Bluegrass: A Launching Pad To Stardom

Every aspiring musician has gazed up at the Main Stage and wondered what it would feel like to be the star under the lights.

The journey to get there is not easy. It takes drive, vulnerability, perseverance and sometimes just the right opportunity to be heard. Since the mid-eighties and early nineties, Planet Bluegrass has hosted Band and Troubadour Contests to give these ambitious musicians that opportunity—the chance to springboard to the spotlight.

It’s been a joy to experience the humble beginnings of so many groups and solo artists throughout our years in Town Park. Perpetuating bluegrass and folk music while inspiring it’s evolution for future generations is core to our mission and we love being able to support creatives as they pave their own musical road.

We can talk all we want about it (and we will because we love it), but it hits harder when it’s from the lips of the artists themselves. Take a look.

Standing up on that stage when all the bands were there waiting for the announcement, hearing our name called sent chills down my spine… It’s a very powerful emotion

Craig Patterson, Wood Belly (2018 winners)

Highlights Throughout the Years

Timeless Troubadours and Burgeoning Bands

The Chicks

1990 Band Contest Winners

Before the 13 Grammys and millions of records sold, The Chicks were four women singing and playing acoustic bluegrass instruments around a single mic. Back then the band consisted of sisters Martie and Emily Erwin, bassist Laura Lynch, and vocalist and guitarist Robin Lynn Macy.

It was obvious from the start that the band was going nowhere but up, but we like to think that winning the Telluride Band Competition and their time on Planet Bluegrass helped set in motion their journey to stardom. Macy and Lynch departed the band in the mid nineties and the sisters added the magnificent Natalie Maines in 1997. The rest was history.

Flash forward to today, and the powerhouses are touring stadiums, releasing hit singles, and unapologetically being themselves (as they should, thank you very much).

We hear they also have a wine brand together called Gaslighter Wine! We’d definitely give it a taste but tell you we didn’t…

Timeless Troubadours and Burgeoning Bands

Greensky Bluegrass

2006 Band Contest Winners

Band members Paul Hoffman, Mike Devol, Anders Beck, Dave Bruzza, and Michael Bont have been jamming together since the early days.

Now considered a Telluride and NightGrass staple, Greensky Bluegrass had humble beginnings starting all the way across town in Elks Park. Their first Main Stage show was in 2007. Little did we know they wouldn’t be so easy to kick after that…

“i remember being proud we played original songs. it felt like the only way to be unique and seemed like our best strategy. it is perhaps the single most important thing that has happened for greensky. we were young. we still had jobs at home. the nod put wind in the sails and gave us the courage to go forth and be ourselves. we also crossed paths with our soon to become brother (and dobro player), anders beck. he helped JUDGE the contest! we didn’t know each other yet. it’s totally surreal. a year later when returned for our “prize set” he sat in for the first time.” -Paul Hoffman

Look at these babies!

when we won the band contest in 2006, we weren’t even officially signed up. we booked a tour and played the eldo in crested butte the night before planning to show up and just catch a spot from a no-show band. it worked. we drove after the gig and slept on the side of the road outside town for an hour or two before the first round.

Paul Hoffman

Timeless Troubadours and Burgeoning Bands

Gregory Alan Isakov

2007 Telluride Troubadour Winner

To know him is to love him, and we’ve known that since he began his journey as a Telluride Troubadour in 2007. Back when “The Stable Song” was young and his third self-released album That Sea, The Gambler had yet to reach record stores. Gregory has gathered accomplishments (including a Grammy for best folk album) like tokens over the last 16 years.

Here’s a peek of him day-of his first ever Telluride Bluegrass performance. He’s since traded the baseball cap for more stylish wool fedoras, but he had our hearts from the beginning regardless.

Timeless Troubadours and Burgeoning Bands

The Lil Smokies

2015 Band Contest Winners

Missoula, Montana sits at the convergence of five mountain ranges and is thus often described as the “Hub of Five Valleys.”

Likewise, the city gave rise to a four piece band- Andy Dunnigan on dobro, Jean Luc Davis on bass, Jake Simpson on fiddle and Matt “Rev” Rieger on guitar.

The Smokies are a whole new kielbasa of string-band goodness. Do you see what we did there…? They graced the Main Stage in 2022. It was a treat as always. Where there’s Smokies there’s fire!

The Winners Behind It All

Telluride Troubadour Contest Winners

1991 - Larry Good

1992 - Cosy Sheridan

1993 - Dan Sheridan

1994 - Catie Curtis

1995 - LJ Booth

1996 - Michael Lille

1997 - Jonathan Kingham

1998 - Eugene Ruffolo

1999 - Libby Kirkpatrick

2000 - Mary Coppin

2001 - Kris Delmhorst

2002 - Deb Talan

2003 - Rachel Davis

2004 - Brian Joseph

2005 - Keith Greeninger

2006 - Nels Andrews

2007 - Gregory Alan Isakov

2008 - Nathan Moore

2009 - Mitch Barrett

2010 - Robby Hecht

2011 - Matt Harlan

2012 - Reed Waddle

2013 - Reed Turner

2014 - Michael Kirkpatrick

2015 - Caitlin Canty

2016 - Anna Tivel

2017 - Clint Alphin

2018 - Garrett Owen

2019 - Emily Scott Robinson

We have not hosted a Troubadour contest since 2019. We’ve missed it dearly and are so excited to bring the competition back for our 50th Anniversary. Looking back on the wealth of history here, we feel confident it will be an amazing year!

Telluride Band Contest Winners

1985 - Blitz Creek

1986 - Loose Ties

1988 - Titan Valley Warheads

1989 - Powder Ridge

1990 - The Chicks

1991 - Meighan Edmonson Mittelmeier Band

1992 - Sugarbeat

1993 - String Fever

1994 - Salt Licks

1995 - Magraw Gap

1996 - Cornbread Sally

1997 - Ryan Shupe & Rubberband

1998 - Floodplain Gang

1999 - Pagosa Hot Strings

2000 - Clear Blue

2001 - Bearfoot Bluegrass

2002 - South Austin Jug Band

2003 - Hit & Run Bluegrass

2004 - Burnett Family Bluegrass Band

2005 - The Badly Bent

2006 - Greensky Bluegrass

2007 - Spring Creek Bluegrass Band

2008 - Blue Canyon Boys

2009 - The Hillbenders

2010 - Nora Jane Struthers & the Bootleggers

2011 - Run Boy Run

2012 - BlueBilly Grit

2013 - Front Country

2014 - Trout Steak Revival

2015 - The Lil Smokies

2016 - Fireball Mail

2017 - Sugar and the Mint

2018 - Wood Belly

2019 - Bowregard

2022 - Full Cord