Chris Austin Songwriting Contest finalists announced

MerleFestFinalists have been announced for the 2014 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, held annually as a part of MerleFest. As is usually the case, a number of young bluegrass artists show up on the list.

Paul Harrigill, banjo player with Flatt Lonesome, is nominated along with Amber Nugent for their song, I’m Blue. Allen and Corey Smith from Ash Breeze also got a nod for Without Love. In addition to her husband, Kelsi Robertson-Harrigill, who plays mandolin in Flatt Lonesome, is up for the prize in the Country category for If You Never Let Me Go.

On the fringes of bluegrass, Joseph Terrell of Mipso made the cut with Angelina Jane is Long Gone.

A complete list of finalists follows:


  • Josh Crews (Boone, NC) – Crossties
  • Paul Harrigill (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Amber Nugent (Ferriday, LA) – I’m Blue
  • Chelsea McBee of The Random Assortment & the Christian Lopez Band (Shepherdstown, WV) – Gone-A-Rye


  • Gary Alan Ferguson (Alexandria, VA) – Time To Praise the Lord
  • Frank Hurd (Raleigh, NC) – Light
  • Allen Smith and Corey Smith of Ash Breeze (Robbins, NC) – Without Love


  • Dan Buehner (Salt Lake City, UT) and Ben Childs (Oxford, MS), both of Hollering Pines – Cadillac
  • Kelsi Robertson-Harrigill (Murfreesboro, TN) – If You Never Let Me Go
  • Becky Warren (Nashville, TN) – Call Me Sometime


  • Clint Alphin (Dunn, NC) – Nobody Knows My Name
  • Sarah Potenza and Ian Crossman (both of Nashville, TN) – My Turn
  • Joseph Terrell of Mipso (Chapel Hill, NC) – Angelina Jane is Long Gone

The finals will be held on Friday, April 25 at MerleFest. Each finalist will perform their entry live on stage. Cash and merchandise prizes will be awarded to each contestant.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.