Podunk Songwriters – Official Rules & Guidelines

The Podunk Bluegrass Songwriting Contest (PBSC) is open to those whose primary source of income (50% or more) is not derived from songwriting or publishing. Income from performing gigs is not songwriting income. Writers who have won First place for two consecutive years in this contest are restricted from entering again for the next three years following their most recent win. Co-writers are subject to the same eligibility requirements as the named entrant.

Bluegrass is a style of acoustic music that originated in the 1940s when Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, and Earl Scruggs combined elements of country/western, gospel, and blues music with the British, Irish, and Scottish music of their Appalachian mountain heritage. It is played most commonly on the mandolin, fiddle, five-string banjo, six-string guitar, and upright bass, but the resonator guitar (“Dobro”), harmonica, and electric bass are also found in bluegrass. Percussion is not generally used, with the insistent rhythm being a result of the interplay of the stringed instruments. Bluegrass music is often called “that high lonesome sound” but it includes a wide range of lively instrumentals, sweet ballads in three-part harmony, soulful a cappella gospel quartets, and up-tempo love songs.  The contest also accepts entries of Folk and  Americana music as well as other related acoustic genre.

Send the following with each entry:
a) One completed entry form per song (photocopy acceptable).
b) Entries may be submitted on CD labeled with the song title and entrant’s name or via email as an mp3 file. Note: M4A format is not acceptable. Multiple entries on a single CD are acceptable.
c) Release form signed by the submitter.
d) Typed lyric sheet. Place the writer’s name(s) at the bottom of the lyric sheet to facilitate easy concealment from the judging panel.
e) Check or money order for $25.00 (U.S. currency) for each entry, payable to Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival. Do not send cash!  Payment may also be made online
Pay Entry Fee Online

The Podunk Bluegrass Songwriting Contest
C/O Myrna Riquier
123 Bedlam Road
Chaplin, CT 06235
or submit the song in MP3 format and the lyric sheet in .doc format by email to
bluegrassShowcase@gmail.com.  Entries must be received by midnight April 30. Entries will be confirmed if the sender provides an email address. Entries received after the deadline will not be considered.

Electronic Submissions
Items to be attached to the email sent to bluegrassshowcase@gmail.com
a) Signed copies of the Contestant Entry form and the Release
b) Typed lyric sheet.
c) Audio recording of the song in mp3 format only. M4A format is not acceptable.

Payment instructions
Send check or money order (see above) or
Pay Entry Fee Online

All entries must be the original work of the contestant. A contestant may enter as many songs as desired. Each song, however, constitutes a separate entry and must have its own entry form, lyric sheet, release, and recorded MP3 (not M4A) or CD submission. Check, money order, or online payment must reflect the total number of songs submitted.

All applicable U.S. copyright laws apply, and all rights to submitted material remain entirely with the copyright holder. PBSC acquires no rights to any works submitted. Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival is not responsible for late, lost, damaged, misdirected, insufficient postage, stolen, or misappropriated entries. Entry fees are non-refundable.

Entries will be judged by music industry professionals from the Podunk Bluegrass Festival music community. All entries will be judged on originality of lyrics, melody, and the song’s overall craft. Of major significance will be how closely the song meets the guidelines for bluegrass music. (See “Bluegrass Guidelines” above)

Recording and performance quality do not affect judging. All decisions by judges are final and not subject to inquiry or appeal. Finalists will be determined and notified with a phone call in early June and that information will be posted to the festival web site, podunkbluegrass.com in early June also. The contest will not release judges’ scores nor provide personal evaluations.

Each contest entry will be judged by all contest adjudicators based on the following criteria:

  • Uniqueness of melody: Melody is new to me and doesn’t sound like another song I’ve heard.
  • Melody likeability: Melody is appropriate for lyrics; pleasant to hear, easy to hum along with.
  • Uniqueness of story line: Tells a story not heard before or tells the story in a new and different way.
  • Lyric quality: Story flows well without crammed lines and without forced or odd rhymes.
  • Likeability: I enjoyed hearing this song so much I might be humming it tomorrow.
  • Target genre: Bluegrass
  • Comparability: Rank this song against a popular bluegrass number, such as Fox on the Run.

A judge will assign a point value (from 1-10 where 10 is Excellent) to each song using the criteria list.  A sample judge’s card shown below explains how an entry that totally misses the requested bluegrass genre can still do well if the song is otherwise exceptionally well written.

Sample songs:

  • Song1 – The Grass has never been bluer
  • Song2 – Who made the grass so blue
  • Song3 – I painted my Hum Vee blue
Unique melody579
Melody likeability779
Unique story line8910
Lyric quality6710
Target genre10102
Total Points485657

The top three winning songs will be sent to New England bluegrass FM radio stations of WHUS, WWUH, WESU, WTCC, WSHU, WYBC, WICN, and WRIU. Writers of the top three songs will be informed via a telephone call of where they have placed in the contest. Each winner will be invited to the current Podunk festival in Goshen, CT to participate in an awards ceremony on the Main Stage where snippets of their songs will be aired for the audience. Transportation to and from the festival and any other expenses are the responsibility of the finalist.

The signature on the entry form constitutes that the song submitted is an original work and releases The Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival Songwriting Contest, its judges, sponsors, and The Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival from all liability. Entry also constitutes permission to use the winner’s name and likeness for future advertising and publicity without compensation. By entering, entrants agree that they have no right to bring, and covenant not to bring any claim, action, or proceeding of any kind or nature whatsoever against PBMF, or any other sponsoring organization or judge in connection with this competition.

Entry & Release Forms