Sowell Family Pickers take 1st at Silver Dollar City

The results are in from the 2017 KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest, held each year during the Bluegrass and BBQ festival at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO.

Roughly a dozen young groups are invited to compete, with more than $4,000 in prize money at stake. To qualify, the bands need to consist of musicians 21 years of age or younger, though parents are allowed in family groups. All perform live on stage for the judges in multiple rounds before final placement is determined.

Winning this competition is often a springboard for professional success in bluegrass, as several past winners have moved quickly into a higher touring status following the contest.

Leading the pack for 2017 are The Sowell Family Pickers, who sing and play at churches and festivals through Texas. Jacob is on banjo, Joshua on guitar, Naomi on bass, Abigail on mandolin, and John-Mark on fiddle. Their parents, Guynn and Cindy, are also part of the group, though they did not participate in the competition.

Here are the final standings from the 2017 KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest on May 27:

  • 1st Place – The Sowell Family Pickers, Hempstead, TX
  • 2nd Place – Resonating Grace, Greenbrier, AR
  • 3rd Place – Southern Strings, Branson, MO
  • 4th Place – The Ross Family, Piedmont, MO
  • 5th Place – Rusty Nail Crossing, Michigan City, IN

Well done, all!

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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.