We’re looking for the next big virtuoso of the most quintessentially American instrument. Cash, industry connections, and inspiration await!

FIRST PRIZE: $1,000 CASH
+ ONE HAND-CRAFTED STATE OF THE ART BANJO
+ ON-STAGE PERFORMANCE AT FRESHGRASS 2015
BRAGGING RIGHTS

SECOND PRIZE: $400 CASH

THIRD PRIZE: $250 CASH

FOURTH & FIFTH PRIZE: $100 HONORARIUM PER BANJOIST

ALL FINALISTS:COMPLIMENTARY THREE-DAY PASS TO THE FESTIVAL
TWO POP-UP PERFORMANCES THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND
PERMISSION TO SELL ALBUMS AT THE FESTIVAL

Contest Rules

Overview

There is no fee or payment of any kind to enter the contest. All participants must submit the two video recordings described below. In addition, the five finalists must provide their own lodging and transportation to and from the FreshGrass festival, and must appear in person to play before a jury to be considered for the cash prizes. The live competition will be recorded and, at the discretion of FreshGrass, may be included in a FreshGrass 2013 compilation album to be co-produced with Compass Records.

Band Members: 1-2 Members

Please fill out the competition application form, including links to YouTube or Vimeo video recordings of two songs: 1) one traditional (public domain) bluegrass tune; and 2) one original composition. The videos must be no longer than five minutes each, and should be from 2014.

Production Support

The contest stage will be set up with a line of vocal and instrument mics.

Instrumentation

Banjo! Scruggs style, clawhammer style, or something unique – all are acceptable. No vocals. One additional accompanying member is allowed.

Important notes

While the Award will focus on fresh approaches within the bluegrass genre, the jurors will also be listening for music that demonstrates a high level of proficiency in traditional – as well as contemporary – bluegrass singing and playing techniques.

Banjoists who are competing in the banjo contest may also compete as part of an ensemble or duo.

No competing banjoist may be signed to a record label or be subject to a pre-existing third-party publisher agreement. Self-released CDs and DIY distribution are not disqualifying.

Submissions will be accepted from 12am EST on April 15, 2014, through 11:59pm EST on August 5, 2014. No submissions will be accepted prior to or after that submission period.

The Jurors will be announced in July, 2013. Note that depending on the number of submissions, the FreshGrass festival organizers may, based on their own evaluation of the award criteria, select a group of semi-finalists to be submitted to the jury for the jury’s selection of finalists.

The five finalist banjoistss will be notified and announced in mid-August 2014, and a list of the finalists will be posted on this website.

The FreshGrass organizers and jurors can disqualify submissions for any reason, including poor-quality video. Moreover, the jurors will select the First, Second and Third Prize winners based on their discretion applying the criteria set forth below; the decision of the jury will be binding and final.

At the Festival

The five (5) finalist banjoists will play two tunes for the jury. They will have a maximum of 10 minutes on stage, inclusive of both tunes. Set-up time is 5 minutes. One of the tunes must be a traditional (public domain) bluegrass tune, and one must be original material, written by the finalist. We prefer to hear music other than the songs you submitted by video, though that is not a requirement. The jurors will also be looking for dynamic range in your choice of tempos, rhythms, and tone. Mix it up for us!

Scoring will be based on the following criteria:

Originality: 40%
Instrumental and vocal skill: 35%
Proficiency in the tradition: 25%

Winners will be announced on-stage at FreshGrass 2014 and on this website following the festival.

Participants will be required to enter into a Submission Agreement in order to enter the contest. Please read these Official Rules and Submission Agreement carefully and in their entirety prior to entering the contest, and do not enter the contest unless you agree to all terms and conditions of both these Official Rules and the Submission Agreement. Please sign the check box on the official entry form to indicate your agreement.