Virginia was a busy place for bluegrass pickers this past weekend. In addition to the Virginia Bluegrass Band Championship in Chesterfield, the first annual Scott Street Five String Finals were held during the Richmond Folk Festival.
This new competition is especially for younger banjo players, held in memory of Scott Street, prominent Virginia attorney and banjo player who passed away earlier this year. Scott had dedicated much of his time in life to ensuring that young bluegrass artists were supported in learning their craft, and funds have been raised to continue this contest in his name.
The Scott Street Five String Finals are limited to Virginia residents aged 18 and under. Finalists were chosen through pre-judging and invited to perform in the finals on Sunday in Richmond. Sitting in judgement were Lonesome River Band banjo man Sammy Shelor, classical banjo player John Bullard, and Malcolm Pulley with Commonwealth Bluegrass.
The winner chosen was Clay Russell of Troutdale, VA. He received a new Huber Workhorse banjo and a personal mentorship with Shelor. Other finalists were Trajan Wellington, T. J. Honaker, and Spencer Hatcher.
Russell performs with Close Kin, a youth bluegrass and old time group under the direction of Johnny Williams in southwestern Virginia.
Congratulations to Clay and all the finalists!