Music competition rocks Carbondale’s Mountain Fair |

Music competition rocks Carbondale’s Mountain Fair

Kevin Keller
Post Independent Intern
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Carbondale found success at Mountain Fair on Saturday with the first annual Carbondale Mountain Fair Singer/Songwriter Competition.

The competition started on July 3 with 21 contestants, representing a wide spectrum of music from blues to alternative, performing in front of three judges at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale.

However, the competition’s story began well before the first contestants showed up.

After hosting the Jam Tent at the 2009 Mountain Fair, Shanti Gruber and Meagan Goodwin, of local band The Tippetts, were asked to come back and take it up a notch.

After getting the spark to have a competition, which was inspired by the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, they ran with it, Gruber said.

“It’s been a huge success,” she added. “Carbondale really supported us as The Tippetts and we wanted to give back. Seeing all the musicians that have come out, seeing all the different styles and ages, and having all the people come out and share music [is my favorite part].”

After coming up with the idea for the competition, the pair used their relationship with the valley to help spread the word. They used flyers and word of mouth to get the news out to local musicians and welcomed any musical style.

The result: 21 musicians turned out to try to strike a chord with the judges.

“I was kind of relieved [we had 21],” Gruber said. “I wasn’t sure how many people would come out and 21 was the perfect number.”

After each of the contestants performed at Steve’s Guitars, the three Judges, Bob Levey, JD Martin and Sonja Linman, narrowed the list to six. The six then performed two at a time during the Carbondale Summer of Music Series in Sopris Park on June 4, 11, and 18. Each Sunday one contestant faced elimination.

The final three, Jacob Russo, 18, Lucas Palver, 20, and Lee Martin, 53, performed two songs each in the fair’s Jam Tent, and the three judges found Russo to have the finest tune. Palver finished second and Martin third.

Russo said his mom told him about the competition after she saw it in the paper and he decided to try it out.

“[It] would be the first thing I’ve ever won with music,” he said before the results were announced. “It would be really cool to win with ideas that came from your own head.”

Russo said it was a challenge to come out and even perform because he was on a break from work at the Glenwood Canyon Zipline, but he used his harmonica and guitar to delight the audience.

Russo earned the grand prize – a guitar from Glenwood Music, radio time on KDNK, a slot at an August festival in Marble and various other opportunities to perform.

Palver said he did not know what to expect, but that he used the competition to have some fun and to improve on his music.

“You know sooner or later you got to perform,” he said. “It’s more experience and the more experience you get the more professional you become, and I want to get as professional as I can get.”

Gruber said that the competition is great for musicians and fans all over the valley.

“Well, it’s celebrating all of the singer/songwriters and musicians in the valley who don’t get to perform that much,” she said, “and just letting people hear their voices.”

With the turnout and harmony of the competition, Gruber said that she thinks the competition will become a staple at the fair.

“Absolutely,” she said, “Just as the fair has become a holiday for Carbondale, I believe this will continue.”

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