Finalists

The Blind Owl Band

In the heart of the Adirondack mountains, The Blind Owl Band has been creating what they call Freight Train String Music since 2010. “Although we look like a bluegrass band we are not,” explains co-founder Eric Munley (mandolin, vocals). “Collectively, we’re a musical representation of the sounds floating around in our heads. We use the instruments of our ancestors, but play music of our time.” In just under five years the band has released two albums and toured extensively throughout the eastern U.S., logging nearly 600 show across 17 states since January 2012.

 

Cabin Creek

Formed in the hills of Virginia, Cabin Creek is built on a foundation of old time string band music from their childhood. All four members have been active musicians for over ten years, and their collective expertise culminates in the mature and concise songwriting of this project. Their sophomore album Goodbye Home, released last July, was nominated for a WAMA and earned them critical praise – That Music Mag writes, “Goodbye Home is keeping Virginia’s musical heritage alive, well, and kicking ass,” while Whurk Magazine muses, “If Bob Dylan had picked up a banjo instead of an electric guitar and Paul Simon had teamed up with him, you’d be in the same ballpark.”

Colebrook Road

Winners of the 2016 D.C. Bluegrass Union’s Mid Atlantic Bluegrass band contest in Washington D.C., winners of the 2015 Podunk Bluegrass Festival band contest in Hebron, CT, winners of the 2014 Watermelon Park Fest band contest in Berryville, VA, and winners of the 2011 Pickin’ In The Panhandle Bluegrass Festival band contest in Martinsburg, WV, Colebrook Road has become a standout string band, a bluegrass powerhouse made up of five individuals whose sum is more than the total of their talents. The group released their sophomore album, Halfway Between, on May 7, 2016 – a ten-track record of all-original vocal and instrumental tunes.

Damn Tall Buildings

The Boston Globe calls them “The Carter Family for the millennial generation” – and indeed, they blend the hard-hitting songwriting of early American folk music with a modern approach to melody and arrangement. Born in 2013, Damn Tall Buildings got its start busking on Newbury Street in Boston, and the quartet has gone on to make two records and tour across the U.S., sharing the stage with likes of Sierra Hull, The California Honeydrops, and Gangstagrass. Their latest, self-titled album was released to a sold-out crowd at the legendary Club Passim this past July.

The Last Revel

From the budding music scene of the Upper Midwest comes the cutting edge Americana of The Last Revel.  This trio of multi-instrumentalists makes as much noise as a quintet with their virtuosic blend of acoustic guitar, upright bass, fiddle, 5-string banjo, harmonica, and kick drum. With a wide emotional range from bombastic foot-stompers to delicate folk ballads, they are scholars of all types of front porch music. Their second record, The Last Revel was released last May and accompanied by a series of shows around their hometown of Minneapolis, MN.