Tucson Folk Festival
Stefan George Memorial Songwriting Competition
JOIN US FOR THE FINALIST SHOW AND OFFICIAL FESTIVAL KICK OFF!
FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2024: 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Jacome Plaza Stage
All Proceeds Benefit the 39th Annual Tucson Folk Festival. The finalist performances will be filmed and later made available on the Tucson Folk Festival YouTube Channel.
The Stefan George Memorial Songwriting Competition is a beloved part of the festival each year – a chance for established and emerging songwriters to share new insights, new songs inspired by the times, and play for an audience that is hanging on every lyric. Each year, over 80 entrants compete for a spot in the finalist showcase at the Tucson Folk Festival. The winner of this showcase receives a coveted evening slot at the Saturday night festival.
Each year, a 1st Place, 2nd Place, and 3rd Place winner are decided by a panel of judges considering the performers’ originality and uniqueness, song structures and arrangement, talent, and general stage presence.
- 1st PLACE | $300 Cash Award, Free Registration to Folk Alliance International Conference, TKMA T-Shirt, Bookmans Gift Card, 25 minute set on the Jacome Plaza Stage on Saturday at 6:15 pm
- RUNNER-UP | $150 Cash Award, Bookmans Gift Card, TKMA T-Shirt, 10 minute set on the Jacome Plaza Stage on Saturday at 6 PM
- 3rd PLACE | $50 Cash Award, TKMA T-Shirt, Bookmans Gift Card
ADMIRAL RADIO – Columbia, South Carolina
Inspired by the prior life of their 1941 wooden Admiral radio, Coty Hoover and Becca Smith make music to gather ’round to. This infectious husband-and-wife duo inspires every room with their thoughtful storytelling, tight vocal harmonies, and deep love for community. Having shared the stage with national acts like Del McCoury, Molly Tuttle, Judah & the Lion, Leftover Salmon, and more, Admiral Radio is quickly making waves across the country as a rising star of the Folk/Americana music scene.
ARIELLE SILVER – Toluca Lake, California
Arielle Silver is a consummate storyteller whose rich, expressive voice and acoustic guitar frame expansive melodies that echo her tours and travels across the American heartland. Raised on folk festival fields and synagogue pews, in woodsy and watery places up and down the Atlantic Seaboard, Arielle now lives in Los Angeles, just a traffic jam away from the Pacific Ocean. Arielle currently serves as President of Folk Alliance Region West (FAR-West), and has shared stages with America, Ellis Paul, Rebecca Loebe, Alice Howe and Freebo, and more.
JOSHUA BUTCHER – Tucson, Arizona
Joshua Butcher is a multi-genre vocalist with his roots in gospel and country music. He has a distinctly unique gift of voice that fans have described as a soothing warmth and welcome that “just feels like it’s everywhere.” Joshua’s lyrics are heartfelt and emoting, with creative turns of phrase that harken back to the traditions of classic country songs. His current project is the powerhouse roots-rock band, ‘Barnaby and the Butcher’ which released two albums in the last year.
LIZZIE – Tucson, Arizona
“Lizzie” is the stage name of 18 year old singer songwriter Erin Elizabeth. Born and raised In Tucson, Arizona she enjoys playing around town at local venues as well as writing and performing her original music. Her debut EP “Words” was released this past June and more music is on the way! Lizzie’s music incorporates a variety of folk, indie, jazz, and rock influences. She performs all over town playing her acoustic guitar and singing.
SIMON LUNCHE – Berkeley, California
California singer-songwriter Simon Lunche developed a precocious knack for guitar and soon became the youngest endorsed artist in the history of Gibson Guitars for his unique stylings. Known for his dynamic live performances, Simon channels influences such as John Mayer, Jeff Buckley, and Van Morrison. His velvety voice, lyricism, and instrumentation soundtracking his life’s journal, induces the kind of emotion that leaves you speechless.
GABRIELLE PIETRANGELO – Tucson, Arizona
Gabrielle Pietrangelo’s desert inspired, voice centered, indie-folk has been evolving in the Tucson region for two decades. Driven by guitar and ethereal vocals, Gabrielle’s music holds themes of nature, image invoking lyrics, humor and personal spirituality. She is a recent John Lennon Songwriting Contest winner and has arranged and performed vocal harmonies for many national and local acts including, Calexico, Howe Gelb, Amos Lee, Marianne Dissard, Brian Lopez, Mamma Coal and more.
DILLON SPURLIN – Phoenix, Arizona
Spurlin is a singer/songwriter originally from the upper Midwest. He recently migrated down south to enjoy the beautiful land, weather, and music this part of the country has to offer. He uses his upbringing in musical theatre and auditioned choirs to his advantage when performing as a singer/songwriter – he often puts himself in the ‘scene’ of the song.As far as influences go, he finds himself likening himself to the singer/songwriters of the 1970’s, such as Paul Simon, James Taylor, etc.
MIKE STOCKSDALE – Culver City, California
With a guitar in hand and a gift for crafting profound lyrics, Mike Stocksdale weaves melodies that resonate deep within the soul. He draws you in with compelling riffs and intricate fingerpicking, but it’s not just the music; it’s the words that truly set Stocksdale apart. As a lyricist, he possesses an uncanny ability to distill complex emotions into relatable verses, painting vivid stories with his words.
Jacob Acosta – Jacob Acosta is an international recording and performing artist based in Tucson, Arizona with a music degree in classical guitar. He has worked with the legendary indie-producer John Vanderslice, been featured on National Public Radio, played dozens of festivals and tours across the U.S., and has released sixteen records in the genres of blues rock, indie-shoegaze, pop, deep house, progressive house, organic house, americana and folk since 2008 by his own namesake along with the groups Mason, Burning West, HYTS, Roll Acosta, and Race You There. His most popular local release is ‘Desert Sounds’ (2018) about Arizonan culture and the Southwest.
John Coinman – John Coinman is an award-winning singer-songwriter who grew up on the Kiowa Grasslands in Clayton, New Mexico. He has recorded five solo albums and had numerous songs in films and on television. John is the bandleader for Kevin Costner & Modern West (KCMW) and he was the Music Supervisor for the film Dances With Wolves. He has been touring with KCMW since 2006 and has recorded 5 albums of original songs with the band including the companion CD to the award winning miniseries Hatfields And McCoys. He has collaborated with many notable artists including John Densmore of The Doors, James Intveld, Michael Blake (the writer of Dances With Wolves), Amy Rigby, Tony Gilkyson (of Lone Justice and X), Teddy Morgan, and 4 time grammy winner Alfonso Rodenas. John’s latest solo album Under The Sun was released in October, 2019.
Katie Haverly – There is an ache in this world that Katie Haverly seeks to salve on her new album, Triangulating Line. Throughout a 10-song collection that spans a joyous mesh of soulful pop, jazz, folk, and rock, the alt-rock polymath wants to break a cycle of self-hate embedded into the heart of society itself. An all-star musical team helps the Tucson, AZ icon express the gospel of self-acceptance required to evolve human consciousness. For this album cycle, Haverly has expanded her creative interests into filming, directing and editing her own music videos. These include Home, which captures a 12 day solo journey to Kyoto, Japan to process some challenging heartbreak, and Nothing But You, a documentary of her father’s family from 1942-1977. Haverly also regularly composes music for television, film and dance and also works as a producer with other artists.
Kevin Larkin – Kevin Larkin is a composer, performer, producer and sound artist. His work often explores the intersection of the organic and digital aspects of sound, incorporating manipulated field recordings and processed acoustic sources. Kevin spent much of the last decade creating theatrical productions with Denver based art-folk band Chimney Choir. The band wrote three original ballets for contemporary dance company Wonderbound, arranged and performed with the Colorado Symphony, performed at Ted-X Boulder, and conceived and performed numerous immersive musical experiences including 2016’s (dream) show in collaboration with Colorado Public Radio. Chimney Choir was also asked to lead Colorado Creative Industries 2015 Detour project, which featured performances and songwriting workshops in communities across the state.
Syndenn Sweet – Syndenn Sweet is a Hearing-impaired creator living in Arizona. She is the Co-Owner of Hanner House Records located at the famous Sad Salad Studios. She is a singer/songwriter, muti-instrumentalist, producer, foley artist, luthier, children’s author, visual artist, illustrator, photographer, and poet. She is the author of two educational, early childhood development activity books and the creator of BURN WHILE READING: A Collection of 50 Poems. She is also a luthier who specializes in comprehensive rebuilding/restorative instrument repair. She loves to fix all things from guitars, violins, mandolins and banjos to zithers, shamisen, contrabass balalaika and accordions. Syndenn has previously served on the TKMA Board as Vice President and Songwriting Competition Committee Chair.
The Tucson Folk Festival songwriting competition began in the early 2000s by a passionate group of songwriters and performers. Today, the competition is in tribute to one of those founders, Stefan George.
Noted for his outstanding songwriting, Stefan George had a passion for music that drove him to excel in virtually every musical endeavor he set his sights upon. And there were many, even within the confines of our so-called folk music festival where he played with so many different ensembles and configurations including the String Trotters, Arm and Hammer, White-bread, Songtower, BK Special, Four Corners, the Ditchriders and, of course, under his own name and that of his beloved partner, Lavinia White.
While Stef was already making a name for himself throughout the late 1980s and ‘90s, and often playing in primetime slots at the festival, for 20 years he could still be seen backing his mother, Emilie, usually in the hot mid-afternoon sun, whose sets were part performance and part history lesson of Eastern European folk music and traditions that she grew up with and were so much a part of her life. While it would be both difficult and redundant to add to what has already been written about Stefan, it should be noted he and Emilie were as much a part of this festival as any one or two people could be.
2023 – Fox and Bones – Portland, Oregon
2022 – Chris Baron – Portland, Oregon
2021 – Annie Sorrells & Jerry Green – Phoenix, Arizona
2020 – Competition cancelled due to COVID-19
2019 – Nick and Luke – Brooklyn, New York & Baltimore, Maryland
2018 – Sophia Rankin – Tucson, Arizona
2017 – Eric Ramsey – Phoenix, Arizona
2016 – Janelle Loes – Phoenix, Arizona
2015 – Jen Hajj – Idyllwild, California
2012 – Mitzi Cowell – Tucson, Arizona
- October 1 | Application acceptance opens ($30 Application Fee for all submissions)
- December 1 | CLOSED: Application acceptance closes
- February 5 | Songwriting Contest Finalists announced
- February 12 | Deadline for Finalist commitment to attend
- Friday Night of the Festival | Finalist Competition (Festival Kick-Off Concert)
- Saturday Night of the Festival | Winner and Runner-Up Perform Sets on Plaza Stage