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 2021 lineup to perform on the festival main stage.
- Online registration is now open for the 2020 contest.
- The band contest entry is $75 per band.
- To compete in the band contest finals on the main stage, all band members must have 4-Day Passes or Saturday single-day tickets.
- All Telluride Bluegrass tickets (including band contest entries) are refundable if returned on or before March 6, 2020. No returns after March 6.
- 1st Place Prize:
- $750 and strings
- main stage slot on the 2021 Telluride Bluegrass lineup
- EP recording package from The Studio at eTown Hall and Airshow Boulder (see details below).
- 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.
- Preliminary Round.
Friday, June 19. Elks Park Stage.
- Final Round.
Saturday, June 20. Main Festival stage, inside the Festival grounds. Prizes awarded immediately after the contest.
- Please note: Contestants are required to use just a single stage microphone for the preliminary and final rounds of the band contest.
- 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 fixed/mounted percussion allowed. (Musicians should be able to stand and move with their instruments. Washboards, shakers, and tambourines are examples of accepted percussion.)
- Bands entering the contest may have no common members.
- 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
- 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 your 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 purchased a ticket for Saturday’s show and have a wristband to access the backstage area.
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, Sugar & the Mint, and 2018 winners Wood Belly.