Do you have a song that’s been bouncing around in your head, waiting to be heard? A bluegrass or old-time tune you’ve been working on? The DC Bluegrass Union (DCBU) thinks your work should be recognized, and sponsors competitions in memory of two pillars of the Washington music community, to find the best new songs and tunes. Who knows, maybe your song could become a classic!
Winners of the 2018 Mike Auldridge Instrumental Composition Contest were announced in December. This annual competition honors the life and musicianship of one of America’s greatest bluegrass players. Mike’s smooth and effortlessly tasteful Dobro guitar work was grounded in the bluegrass tradition, but added swing, blues and horn influences to arrive at a uniquely new sound. A founding member of The Seldom Scene and in-demand session player, Mike was a pillar of the Washington bluegrass scene for 40 years.
Entries for the Hazel Dickens Song Contest will be accepted through January 5, 2019. This competition recognizes the life and work of one of bluegrass music’s most beloved songwriters. From hardscrabble beginnings in West Virginia coal country, Hazel Dickens moved to Baltimore, MD as a young woman. She was soon recognized for her singular mountain singing style and her gift with a lyric. She sang of coal miners, unionization, hard times, feminism and much more, recording several albums with duo partner Alice Gerrard as well as four records as a solo artist. Hazel was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship in 2001 from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Each contest awards cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100 to the songs or tunes. Judging is by a 3-member panel of industry leaders, and their selection is based on the composition, not the recording’s performance or production.
Entries must be submitted electronically (e-mail or Dropbox), along with a $30 per song entry fee. The top three winners of the Mike Auldridge contest will be announced on December 10; the winners of the Hazel Dickens contest will be announced February 15, 2019.
For full details, check the DCBU website.
DCBU is a nonprofit volunteer organization serving the greater Washington, DC area bluegrass and old-time music community, helping to inform, educate, connect and broaden its very active community of performers, fans, venues and promoters.