In keeping with the diversity of the various styles of bluegrass and traditional acoustic music that Flagstaff Friends of Traditional Music represents, this band contest is not confined to a specific genre of acoustic music. Rather, it is an opportunity for a broad variety of acoustic bands to display their talents, musicianship and entertainment abilities to a wide audience.
Pickin’ in the Pines Band Contest Prizes
1st Place: $750
2nd Place: $500
3rd Place: $250
Previous band contest winners
If your band wins the band contest, you’ll be in great company.
Previous winners of the Pickin’ in the Pines Band Contest include:
2023 – The Arizona Wildflowers
2022 – The Cross-Eyed Possum
2021 – Ace Slim
2019 – Copper Wren
2018 – Crying Uncle
2017 – Cadillac Mountain
2016 – Sugar & The Mint
2015 – The Haymarket Squares
2014 – Cisco & The Racecars
2013 – The Baker Family
2012 – The Railsplitters
2011 – Backwater Opera
2009 – Run Boy Run
2008 – Headline Bluegrass Band
2006, 2007 and 2010 – Whistle Stop Bluegrass Band
1. Registration: Entry in the Pickin’ in the Pines Band Contest is on a first-come, first-served basis and will be limited to ten contestant bands. Entry fee is $30.00 for each band. All contestants must hold a valid festival ticket for at least the day of the contest; no discounts or free passes will be granted. Entry fees are non-refundable after September 1. Any entries received after all ten (10) bands have entered will be placed on a waiting list and entry fees will be refunded if no other cancellations occur.
Any questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At least one representative of each band must report to the registration table in the Commercial Building at 8:45 am on the morning of the contest to draw for their place in the lineup, review the rules, and ask any questions pertaining to judging. Contestants must be present and ready to perform at their scheduled time, or they will be disqualified. Contestants must remain in the band contest stage area in case of a tie. If a playoff is required and a contestant band is not present, the award will go to the other competitor.
The top three contestants from the band contest will perform on the main stage in a playoff round. Finalist bands will perform up to two pieces which must be different from those performed during the preliminary round. All playoff contestants must be present near the backstage entrance at least 15 minutes prior to the playoff round (additional direction will be given when finalists are announced at preliminary round). Winners of the band contest will be announced following the first main stage set after the finals on Sunday morning.
*Bands who have won the contest in previous years are not eligible to enter the band contest. Paid performers, Festival directors, Flagstaff Friends of Traditional Music board members, employees of Coconino County Parks and Recreation, or Pepsi Amphitheater at Ft. Tuthill County Park, LLC, or R-Entertainment may not enter this contest.
2. Musical Styles, Material and Instrumentation: Each band will play three selections which should include: a slow vocal song, a fast vocal song, and an instrumental number, in any order. All-instrumental bands are permitted, with tune selection at their discretion, and variety encouraged. Each band should plan to limit their stage time to ten minutes, though a reasonable grace period may be given at judges discretion. Talking between songs is allowed and encouraged, since it reflects a band’s rapport with the audience and since band stage presence is a judging factor (see below). Any type of traditional acoustic music is allowed in this contest, including bluegrass, old-time, celtic, western, newgrass, swing, gospel, or other acoustic forms. To avoid delays with band setup, all bands must use a single mic setup provided by Pickin’ in the Pines. A separate bass mic is allowed, at the band’s preference. While the contest is not restricted to any specific genre of music, contestants must perform with acoustic instruments; no electrically amplified instruments, pickups, or contact mics, with the exception of electric bass, are allowed in this contest. Minimal percussion instruments, such as a snare, shaker or hand-held drum are allowed (please email us if you have questions about instruments). Accident beyond the control of the contestant (such as string breakage) may result in a replay at the bands request and if the judges so merit.
3. Band Members: A band will consist of at least two, but no more than seven members. Songs, material, and dress must be of an appropriate nature suitable for family entertainment. No band member may compete in more than one band. Any contestant appearing under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be allowed on stage. Paid performers hired for the current festival year, Pickin in the Pines directors, coordinators and volunteers, Flagstaff Friends of Traditional Music board members, employees of Coconino County Parks and Recreation, or Pepsi Amphitheater at Ft. Tuthill County Park, LLC, or R-Entertainment may not enter this contest.
4. Judging Criteria: Contestants in the Pickin’ in the Pines Band Contest will be judged on:
• Material Selection (30%) — difficulty, taste, authenticity/originality. You’ll get more points for playing a simple tune well than a difficult tune poorly.
• General Instrumental Musicianship (30%) — rhythm & timing, intonation, expression, for both solos and overall instrumental blend.
• Vocal Performance (30%) — intonation and overall vocal quality for both leads and harmony singing. This portion is not-applicable for all-instrumental bands, with remaining portions re-weighted proportionally.
• Stage Presence (10%) — audience rapport and entertainment value, with the highest scores going to bands exhibiting high entertainment qualities, showing comfort with the audience, expertise with and confidence in their musical performance.
5. Finality: Decisions by the judges will be final and not negotiable. Contestants may view their score sheets upon request by contacting the band contest coordinator, and judges are encouraged to provide comments to provide constructive feedback for band contestants.
6. Recording Rights: All commercial recording rights are reserved and shall become the property of Flagstaff Friends of Traditional Music. Signing of the registration form by contestant acknowledges such recording rights and acceptance of all rules and regulations of the Pickin’ in the Pines Festival and Band Contest.