Nobody outdoes bluegrass and old time lovers when it comes to remembering those who have gone before us. Countless festivals and events carry the names of artists and entertainers we have lost, many of them launched specifically to keep the name of a cherished loved one alive after they have passed. Just in my neck of the woods are two such – the legendary MerleFest, started by Doc Watson to commemorate his son, Merle, and HoustonFest, started a few years ago to memorialize a picker, Houston Caldwell, who died tragically at a young age.
Another here in Virginia of a more recent vintage is The Scott Street Five String Finals, held in the memory of one of Richmond’s most civic-minded individuals. Scott Street was an attorney, a philanthropist, a kind and loving soul, and a dedicated follower of all things banjo. Even while losing his battle with cancer, Scott was the first one off the couch to help anyone who needed it, especially within the bluegrass and banjo community.
After his passing in 2015, several friends in Richmond came up with the idea of a banjo competition to keep Scott’s name in the conversation. It is held each year as a part of the Richmond Folk Festival, with generous prizes offered for pickers 18 and under in two banjo categories. A $1,000 prize is given to the winner in both a bluegrass and a clawhammer division, with $600 and $400 awards for 2nd and 3rd places.
To enter, you must submit a video of yourself playing on YouTube. A group of finalists will be chosen from the video submissions, and they will be invited to the festival on October 13 to compete in the finals live on stage. There is no fee to submit an entry.
Judges for this year include James Bailey, former banjo player with The Country Gentlemen, clawhammer virtuoso Victor Furtado, and Richard Ward, formerly with The Heights Of Grass.
Full details on the Scott Street Five String Finals can be found online.