Music Competition Guidelines

 Uncle Dave Macon Days

Download pdf here

1. Check in with the stage manager as soon as your category is called.
2. Remain backstage throughout the entire duration of the category.

3. While waiting in the backstage area, be respectful of others and the proceedings onstage.
Practicing or “warming-up” must be done away from the immediate backstage area.
4. Failure to appear when called may result in disqualification and loss of entry fees. It is NOT the responsibilities of staff to make sure you are there ready to participate. Please keep aware of the proceedings and respond immediately when your name is called.
5. No additional registrants will be allowed in a category after the first contestant begins.
Exceptions may be granted at the discretion of the Chairman of Judges.
6. A contestant’s number will remain the same throughout the preliminary and final
competitions (if applicable). There will be no finals in a category, unless it is so indicated in
the official schedule. The following categories generally do not have finals (Consult the
official program or the stage manager for any revisions).

a. Beginner Instrumental, ( 2 Tunes)
b. Contest Fiddle (2 Tunes)
c. DeFord Bailey Harmonica, (2 Tunes)
d. Dobro (2 Tunes)
e. Guitar, (2 Tunes)
f. Mandolin (2 Tunes)
g. Mountain* Dulcimer (2 Tunes)
h. Blues Singing with acoustic instruments (2 Tunes)
i. Old Time Singing (2 Tunes)
j. Uncle Dave Macon FreeWheelin’ (2 Tunes)

8. Contestants who have won their category two (2) years in a row are not eligible to win.
They will be reinstated for eligibility the next “season”.
9. Contestants are expected to honor the spirit of the competition and not attempt manipulate any contest by taking advantage of multiple registrations i.e. as a single and duo or trio in order to maximize stage time. Nullification of any contest registration is at the discretion of the Chairman of Judges.*
10. Contestants in categories without scheduled finals are expected to perform two (2)
selections, subject to time constraints.

If a finals competition is scheduled, three (3) finalists will be selected from the preliminary round. In music categories with scheduled finals, contestants are expected to perform one (1) selection in the preliminary round and two (2) numbers in the finals. Finalist contestants are not allowed to repeat their selection from the preliminaries.

11. Finals will be held in the following categories (consult your official program or the stage
manager for any revisions):

a. All Dance categories
b. Bluegrass Banjo
c. Old-Time Banjo National Championship
d. Bluegrass Band
e. Old-Time Band
f. Jug Band
g. Traditional Fiddle

12. NO SINGING may accompany the contestants in any category except the following:

a. Old Time Singing
b. Blues Singing
c. Uncle Dave Macon Free Wheeling
d. Bluegrass band
e. Old-Time band
f. Jug Band

13. Electric bass may be used in the bluegrass band contest only. Otherwise, electric amplified
instruments are not allowed in any category.
14. Drum kits are not allowed in any category. Traditional hand-percussion instruments are
permitted as appropriate,
15. No back-up instrument is required in any music category (except bands). The presence or absence of back-up instrument(s) will not be a basis for judging the performance, unless the accompaniment overshadows or distracts from the main instrument.
16. In individual instrumental categories, a maximum of two (2) back-up instruments is
allowed. However, contestants are encouraged to limit the accompaniment to only one (1)
back-up instrument.
17. The duration of contest songs or tunes should not exceed approximately three (3) minutes. Judges may interrupt the performance and/or disqualify any excessively long entries.
18. No traditional tunes or songs are “banned” from the competition. However, contestants are encouraged to choose selections which are truly appropriate for the categories. The playing of “overused” selections is discouraged. Feel free to consult the Chairman of Judges with any questions about the appropriateness of a selected piece of music.
19. Uncle Dave Macon days is a family oriented event. Lewd, vulgar or otherwise generally
offensive material may not be performed. At their discretion, the judges may disqualify
inappropriate performances.
20. If time becomes a constraint or any unforeseen circumstances, the chairman of judges and/or festival director may restrict the number of tunes/dances performed in any category or make other changes to the rules and schedules as required for contest administration.

Additional Guidelines:

Uncle Dave Macon Free Wheeling
1. This contest is intended to be a tribute to Uncle Dave’s musical style and spirit. Duplicating
Uncle Dave in manner or dress is not required but is encouraged.*
2. Backup is not required but no more than 2.

Old Time Singing (2 Tunes no finals)
1. Songs should be in an authentic old-time style such as: Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, Uncle Dave Macon, The Delmore Brothers, etc.
2. Modern (post 1945) songs should be avoided. If in doubt about a selection, please consult the Chairman of Judges.
3. A maximum of two (2) backup instruments is allowed. No accompaniment is required.
4. Duet and trio singing is permitted. (See rule No. 9 on page 1)*
5. The above accompaniment rules apply. No full bands allowed.

Blues Singing (with acoustic accompaniment) (2 Tunes no Finals)
1. Songs should be in an authentic, traditional, southern blues style.
2. Modern (post 1945) songs should be avoided. If in doubt about a selection, please consult the Chairman of Judges.
3. A maximum of two (2) acoustic backup instruments is allowed. No accompaniment is

Deford Bailey Harmonica (2 Tunes no Finals)
1. This a relatively “open” contest but the emphasis is to be placed on the harmonica
style of Deford Bailey and his era (early 1920s to late 1930s early 40s).
2. A maximum of two (2) acoustic backup instruments is allowed. No accompaniment is
required and preferred.

Beginner Instrumental (2 Tunes no Finals)
1. Open to musicians twelve years of age and under as of the contest date.
2. Contestants may play any traditional instrument that is allowed in the general categories.
3. Contestants who enter this category may not enter the regular competition for the like
instrument. However, beginner instrumental contestants may participate as members of a

Traditional Fiddle (1 Tune pre, 2 Tunes finals)
1. Tempo, drive and phrasing should be conducive for dancing. Rhythmic bowing is more
important than ornamentation
2. Cross-tuning and re-tuning are allowed.
3. Accompaniment is optional. Otherwise the general guidelines apply.
4. Fiddle Players in this style include: John Carson, Arthur Smith, Tommy Jarrell, Ramona
Jones, Curly Fox, Gid Tanner, and Earl White.

Contest Fiddle (2 Tunes no Finals)
1. This category features Texas, bluegrass, and fancy contest type fiddling. Here greater
flexibility in tempo and melodic variation is allowed and encouraged.
2. Phrasing, melodic structure, and tasteful ornamentation are generally considered more
important than simple rhythmic bowing.
3. This style is judged more for listen ability than for dancing.
4. Notable fiddle players in this style include: Benny Thomasson, Texas Shorty Chancellor, J.T. Perkins, Mark O’Connor, Howdy Forrester, and Kenny Baker.

Old-Time Banjo (National Championship) (1 Tune pre, 2 Tunes finals)
1. This category features pre-bluegrass banjo playing styles such as: clawhammer, frailing, two-finger picking, up-picking, stroke style, etc.
2. The use of finger pick(s) is optional.
3. Notable artists in these styles include: Uncle Dave Macon, Doc Boggs, Tommy Jarrell,
Stringbean, Grandpa Jones, Hobart Smith, etc.
4. Modern (post 1945) tunes should be avoided. If in doubt about a selection, please consult the Chairman of Judges

Bobby Thompson Bluegrass Banjo (1 Tune pre, 2 Tunes finals)
1. This contest is with the emphasis on the more modern style (3 finger picking ) as developed
by Earl Scruggs, Don Reno etc. and played in the style developed by Bill Monroe and the
Bluesgrass Boys in early 50s’ forward. Intensity and drive are hallmarks of this style.

Mountain Dulcimer (2 Tunes no Finals)
1. Appalachian (mountain, lap, hog fiddle, mountain zither, etc.) dulcimer is an instrument
distinctly different from the Hammered dulcimers. Hammered dulcimers are permitted to
participate as more of a demonstration of that instrument and are not in the dulcimer competition per se. In this instance the entry fee is waived. Hopefully in the future the number of hammered dulcimers will increase sufficiently to warrant a separate independent competition.

Old Time Band (1 Tune pre, 2 Tunes finals)
1. An old time band is a string ensemble in the pre-1940 Appalachian mountain tradition.
2. Primary instrumentation usually includes: fiddle(s) and old time banjo
3. Accompaniment may include guitar, acoustic bass, mandolin, dulcimer and other period
string instruments.
4. Singing is permitted.
5. The repertoire should be authentic vintage songs and tunes from the rural oral tradition.

Bluegrass Band (1 Tune pre, 2 Tunes finals)
1. A bluegrass band is a string ensemble patterned after Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys.
2. Normally consisting (but not required) of Fiddle, Mandolin, Guitar, 5 string Banjo, and
Acoustic (upright bass). Additional instruments include Dobro, Harmonica
3. Singing is permitted.
4. Repertoire is open but must be in the “bluegrass” style. Older tunes are encouraged but
judgment should be used in performing tunes that have “overplayed”. Ask chairman of
judges if any questions.

Jug Band (1 Tune pre, 2 Tunes finals)
1. A Jug Band is an ensemble (3 or more players) using a jug player and having a combination of traditional and home-made instruments. These home-made instruments are everyday objects used in making sounds such as washboard, spoon, comb and tissue, kazoos, washtub bass, stovepipes etc. It is not absolutely necessary to have a jug but it is taken into consideration.
2. Repertoire is open, but usually Blues, Jazz, Folk styles are encouraged with emphasis on a joyful exuberance in its expression.

General Judging Criteria for all Music categories:

1. Style (20%) The contestants playing or singing will be judged for:

a. Appropriateness for the category
b. Musical quality

2. Timing and Rhythm (20%)

a. Consistency
b. Tastefulness

3. Tone and Quality (20%)

a. Playing, singing and/or harmonizing in tune
b. Good instrumental tone and/or vocal quality

4. Execution /Flawlessness (20%)

a. Absence of missed or muffled notes

5. Expression/ Overall Performance (20%)

a. Judges subjective evaluation
b. Stage presence
c. Audience appeal
d. Performance quality

Appropriate comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Every year the contests and rules are reviewed and adjustments may occur as required. These updates are noted by an asterisk (*)
Your input is desired and valued. Please contact the following and it will be forwarded to the appropriate individual(s). Thanks and have FUN!
Uncle Dave Macon Days Festival
P.O. Box 5016
Murfreesboro, TN 37133-5016


Sponsor #1 Sponsor #2 Sponsor #3 Sponsor #4 Sponsor #5 Sponsor #11 Sponsor #7 Sponsor #10 Sponsor #20 Sponsor #10 Sponsor #11 Sponsor #12 Sponsor #10 Sponsor #10 Sponsor #10