The Wooks take the 2016 RockyGrass title

The WooksThe Wooks from Lexington, KY are the 2016 winners of the prestigious RockyGrass Band Contest. The boys worked a stop at the festival in as part of a western swing through Colorado and Montana, and turned in a stellar performance during the finals this past Sunday, earning them a standing ovation from an appreciative RockyGrass audience.

The band is led by former NewTown guitarist CJ Cain with Galen Green on mandolin, Arthur Hancock on banjo, Roddy Puckett on bass, and Jesse Wells on fiddle. Their sound is decidedly young and modern, but with a clear influence from all the classic bluegrass created in their home state over the years.

Their debut album, Little Circles, is set for release in September, recorded and produced at Nashville’s Compass Records Studio by Alison Brown. Of this new young group, Brown says…

“I love The Wooks. With one foot in the Kentucky bluegrass and the other in a galaxy far, far away, they are post modern grassers at heart, delivering song after song full of infectious energy, tremendous musicality and flat out joy.”

Judges in the band contest had a tough time narrowing things down after the early round of competition, and chose four finalists instead of their usual three. The eventual standing came out this way:

  1. The Wooks (Lexington, KY)
  2. Masontown (Boulder, CO)
  3. Ragged Union (Denver, CO)
  4. Honeysuckle Possums (Santa Barbara, CA)


RockyGrass also hosts individual competitions for the various bluegrass instruments with more than 50 contestants entered this year. First place winners received new instruments from Gibson, Deering, Blackbeard, and Devereaux with cash prizes of $100 and $50 going to 2nd and 3rd places.

2016 Instrument Contest Winners


  1. Alex Genova (Madison, WI) 
  2. George Guthrie (Denver, CO)
  3. Gregg Welty (Pittsburgh, PA)


Flatpick Guitar

  1. Eric Wiggs (Longmont, CO) 
  2. Michael Furry (Littleton, CO)
  3. Max Kabat (Boulder, CO) 



  1. Thomas Cassell (Norton, VA) 
  2. Galen Green (Paris, KY)
  3. Bryan Johnson (Broomfield, CO)



  1. Ellie Hakanson (Portland, OR)
  2. Jesse Wells (Moorehead, KY)
  3. Patrick Hoeper (Boulder, CO)



  1. Justin Konrad (Boulder, CO)
  2. Bruno Pichler (Lewes, England)
  3. Kyle Schoonover (Lone Grove, OK)


Congratulations to all the 2016 winners!

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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.