This past Saturday (May 27) saw the 21st edition of the KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest, held at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. The annual competition seeks to find the best young bluegrass band in the country through an initial round of selection through video submissions, followed by the live final rounds before an audience and the judges during the yearly Bluegrass & BBQ Festival at Silver Dollar City.
After multiple rounds of competition, the Bazemore Bluegrass Band from Bristol, OK came out on top, taking home not only the first place honors, but a check for $1,800 as well. Like many entrants in this contest, they are a family band featuring school teacher Crystal Bazemore and her three children, Soren (18) on banjo, Cyprus (14) on guitar, and Miller (12) on mandolin. Mom plays bass and holds things together for her musical charges.
Like many other Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest winners, the Bazemores have competed here before, and placed fifth in a recent outing.
Though it is not a requirement, many entrants year over year are family bands. The primary rule is that band members must be 21 years old or under at the time of the contest, the exception being for parents within a family group. That, along with the relative ease of herding a family unit as compared to multiple teens from different families, probably explains the preponderance.
Also placing in Saturday’s contest were:
- Bazemore Bluegrass Band – Bristol, OK ($1,800 prize)
- Pearlgrace & Co. – Bartlesville, OK ($1,200 prize)
- Coon Holler Kids – Terre Haute, IN ($900 prize)
- The Brothers Five – Bloomingdale, GA ($700 prize)
- Riegle Family Band – Muncie, IN ($500 prize)
While we unable to find any video from Saturday’s competition, we did see this one of the Bazemores competing last year, highlighting Soren playing a song from her banjo teacher, Scott Vestal.
Congratulations to all the winners in the 21st annual KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest, and to all the finalists invited to compete this year!