From its first incarnation in 1993, MerleFest’s annual Chris Austin Songwriting Competition has seen the likes of Gillian Welch, Tift Merritt, and Martha Scanlan rise to the top of an always competitive field of up-and-coming songwriters. Legendary songwriters have presided over the competition from the start as judges, too. Darrell Scott, Hayes Carll, and the late, great Guy Clark have all taken a turn at judging the CASC. This year, the event will be judged by Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, better known as The Milk Carton Kids, Cruz Contreras of The Black Lillies, and Texas-troubadour Radney Foster. Mr. Americana Jim Lauderdale will host the competition and Mark Bumgarner will return as emcee for the finalist contest taking place at MerleFest’s Austin Stage on Friday, April 26th at 2:00 p.m.
This year’s Chris Austin Songwriting Competition Finalists each fall into one of four categories:
Wyatt Espalin (Hiawassee, GA): “Light Coming Through”
Anya Hinkle (Asheville, NC): “Ballad Of Zona Abston”
James Woolsey (Petersburg, IN) and David Foster (Petersburg, IN): “Sugar Ridge Road”
Hannah Kaminer (Asheville, NC): “Don’t Open Your Heart”
Andrew Millsaps (Ararat, NC): “Ain’t No Genie (In A Bottle Of Jack)”
Shannon Wurst (Fayetteville, AR): “Better Than Bourbon”
Wright Gatewood (Chicago, IL): “First”
Alexa Rose (Asheville, NC): “Medicine For Living”
Bryan Elijah Smith (Dayton, VA): “In Through The Dark”
Ashleigh Caudill (Nashville, TN) and Jon Weisberger (Cottontown, TN): “Walkin’ Into Gloryland”
Kevin T. Hale (Brentwood, TN): “We All Die To Live Again”
Russ Parrish (Burnsville, MN) and Topher King (Savage, MN): “Washed By The Water”
All three finalists in each category will have the chance to perform their songs for the judges on MerleFest’s Austin Stage before category winners are ultimately decided on Friday.
Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception, the scholarship has been awarded to 91 deserving students.
In addition to the songwriting competition, MerleFest’s band competition will take place on the Plaza Stage on Saturday the 27th from 11:00 a.m to 3:30 p.m. Judged by members of The Local Boys and emceed by Mark Bumgarner, the competition’s winners will be announced at 4:00 p.m on the Plaza Stage. The winning band will head over to the Cabin Stage, where they will perform to an enthusiastic MerleFest audience from 6:35 to 7 p.m. This year’s band competition finalists include Shay Martin Lovette (Boone, NC), Pretty Little Goat (Brevard, NC), None of the Above (Piedmont Triad, NC), Brooks Forsyth (Boone, NC), Alex Key and the Locksmiths (Wilkesboro, NC), Massive Grass (Wilmington, NC), Redleg Husky (Asheville, NC), and The Mike Mitchell Band (Floyd, VA).
The Road Rolls On: Songwriter Sessions Volume II out now!
Get it wherever you get your music!
The second in the Songwriter Sessions series, The Road Rolls On, is the latest from award winning folksinger, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Ashleigh Caudill. Caudill’s songs take you on a lonely train ride through the mountains, a drive along the countryside, or back in time, with warm, dancing vocal melodies and spacious, unique acoustic instrumentation. If you like your music sophisticated, fun and honest, you need look no further.
Enjoy this live video performance of, I Don't Miss You Anymore, a track off the upcoming EP! The Road Rolls On, Songwriter Sessions Volume II will be out February 1st!
This performance was captured by Kate Weekes on Bluegrass Wednesday at The American Legion Post 82. Featuring Colin O'Brien on percussive dancing, Amberly Rosen and John Mailander on the fiddles.
Keep your ears out for The Road Rolls On, Songwriter Sessions Volume II February 1st!
The Bluegrass Situation premiers, The Road Rolls On, title track of upcoming EP, The Road Rolls On, Songwriter Sessions Volume II.
read more and hear the tune here:
Subscribe to the mailing list to receive a special thank you gift for supporting Ashleigh and her music! If you join on or before Thursday December 13th you'll get in on this special offer! Already on the mailing list? Great! Just be sure to check your email on Friday for more details!
The International Bluegrass Music Association has announced the participants in their 2018 Songwriters Showcase, to take place in Raleigh, NC during the World Of Bluegrass convention in September.
The Showcase puts the selected writers in front of dozens of artists, producers, and labels who attend looking for new material. The participants are chosen in a competitive process with only ten making the final cut.
This year’s list contains a good many names that will be familiar to anyone who follows bluegrass songwriting. Many have showcased during World Of Bluegrass previously, and each earned their showcase by submitting a demo for a new, typically un-recorded song for consideration. And like in years past, you can expect to hear several of the showcased songs on albums next year.
The 2018 Songwriter Showcase for 2018 will include:
The Convention runs from September 25-27. Full details about registration for World Of Bluegrass 2018 can be found online.
The International Bluegrass Music Association has announced today the artists invited to the 2018 World of Bluegrass convention to showcase during the event’s Bluegrass Ramble. Each act will have at least two opportunities to perform during World of Bluegrass (September 25-27).
They are selected by a committee of industry professionals assembled for this purpose, and will play in a variety of settings in and near the Convention Center in Raleigh, NC where World of Bluegrass will be hosted.
Among these are arch-traditionalists, more contemporary bluegrass acts, old time artists, and groups that perform music influenced by bluegrass traditions.
Chosen to showcase for 2018 are:
Songwriter Sessions Vol II is in the works! Check out these pictures from the studio. More details coming so very soon.
Photo credit: Kate Weeks
"2017 is over and it has been a crazy year! I released an EP (the first in my new digital Songwriter Sessions series), performed with so many amazing musicians, collaborated with songwriters that I admire, traversed countless miles, added some amazing instruments to my arsenal, written a plethora of songs, and contributed to some beautiful recordings.
After 120 or so shows last year I was thrilled to wrap it all up in my home state at my favorite Colorado honky tonk surrounded by friends, fans and family. I've been gearing up for Songwriter Sessions Volume II and, as usual, I'm eager to share the process and the finished product with you. I'm in the tune selection and pre-production mode thus far but already fired up for the release which is expected in September!
I wanna thank you for continuing to support and follow my musical adventures and creative endeavors. I could never do what I do with out each and every one of you! Even though its been a divisive year one thing we can all agree on is the power and connectivity of music. Let's all tackle this new year with optimism, kindness, creativity and compassion."
Join Ashleigh and band at the Swing Station in Laporte, Colorado on December 22nd for the last show of the year! There will be drinking and dancing and tons of holiday cheer as well as a whole bunch of guest pickers and singers! Visit the shows page for more info!