DC Bluegrass Union sets instrumental contest

Here’s an idea that’s long overdue: A writing contest that focuses on instrumental numbers in the bluegrass and old-time traditions.

The DC Bluegrass Union opened entries today for the inaugural Mike Auldridge Instrumental Contest, which will go hand-in-hand with the organization’s Hazel Dickens Songwriting Contest. Auldridge and Dickens, both selected for the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame, were giants on the bluegrass scene in and around the nation’s capital. Auldridge, cited as an influence by many of today’s best Dobro players, is best known for his long run with the Seldom Scene

“We couldn’t think of a better way to remember Mike than by celebrating original music in his name,” said DCBU President Randy Barrett. “We encourage players of all string instruments to write a new tune or dust off an older composition and take part in the contest.”

Entries will be accepted through October 15. Winners will be announced on December 1, with first place receiving $500 and a chance to perform the winning song on the main stage at the DC Bluegrass Festival in Vienna, VA, in early March. The runner-up will be paid $250, with $100 for third. The cost per entry is $30.

Complete rules and details are available at dcbu.org, but here’s some guidance from the organizers: “Entries will be judged on melody, chord structure, catchiness and originality. Extended improvisation is discouraged.”

Good luck, tunesmiths!

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.