The Bow Ties take first at RockyGrass 2018

When the smoke cleared from the 2018 RockyGrass Band Competition was over, The Bow Ties came out with the blue ribbon. They had traveled all the way from San Francisco, CA to play the contest, and as first prize winners they will return next year to perform on the main stage as a featured act.

Oddly, they neither wore bow ties, nor did their banjo player use a Bow Tie inlaid five string! But seriously, the allusion is surely a reference to that classic banjo fingerboard pattern used in Mastertone instruments in the 1960s – or perhaps the string ties worn by Flatt & Scruggs in their hey day.

The guys are part of the burgeoning new traditional movement on the west coast, where bluegrass bands are championing the old time way in their music, even writing new songs that fit the mold. Yoseff Tucker plays guitar and sings lead, with Billy Moore on banjo, Jan Purat on fiddle, Andrew Powers March on mandolin, and Zach Sharpe on bass.

Here’s a video of them in the competition.

The RockyGrass Band Competition is an invitational contest, where ten groups perform on stage over two days before a panel of expert judges who choose the winners.

Top finishers this year included:

  1. The Bow Ties (San Francisco, CA)
  2. Turkeyfoot (Denver, CO)
  3. Blackberry Blossom Farm (Red Bluff, CA)

The festival also hosts contests for individual players. Winners receive new instruments plus cash prizes. 2018 results include:

  1. Max Allard (Chicago, IL)
  2. Gregg Welty (Pittsburgh, PA)
  3. Dan Whitener (Matawn, NJ)

Flatpick Guitar

  1. Geordie Halma (Boulder, CO)
  2. Scott Slay (Lakewood, CO)
  3. Mariah Skillman (Red Bluff, CA)


  1. Sam Leslie (Evergreen, CO)
  2. Eli Slocumb (Fort Collins, CO)
  3. Scott Slay (Lakewood, CO)


  1. Eve Panning (Allegan, MI)
  2. Patrick Hoeper (Nashville, TN)
  3. Betty Schoonover (Farmington, NM)


  1. David Pailet (Denver, CO)
  2. Kyle Schoonover (Farmington, NM)
  3. 3Joshua Hight (Salt Lake City, UT)

Congratulations and 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.