2018 Telluride Blues Challenge Finalists Announced

Over the past few years, the Telluride Blues Challenge has emerged as one of the most coveted music competitions in the Southwest! Musicians from all over the country submit their best songs for the chance to make the top six and earn an invite to the Blues Challenge Finals held at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival. Presented by Telluride Music, Telluride Blues Society and the Colorado Blues Society, the Telluride Blues Challenge gives up-and-coming artists the chance to advance their careers, win a 20 minute set on the festival Main Stage, a spot on the 2019 Durango Blues Train, a premium Martin guitar and a cash prize.

Every year, the Challenge entries impress, with an abundance of high-quality, stunning submissions. This year, 34 entries poured in from around the nation and selecting the finalists was not an easy task. The specialists at Telluride Music narrowed the list down to the top six. The following six finalists will compete at the Telluride Elks Lodge during the Blues for Breakfast event on Saturday, September 15 from 9:00 am to Noon. Below Telluride Music's Tom Nading weighs in on each finalist.

2018 Finalists

Scott Peters - Cello is not an instrument we expect to see in a blues competition, but when you hear the emotive, haunting voice Scott coaxes out of his cello, you'll wonder if Yo-Yo Ma ever got lost in the Delta. Paired with strong vocals, Scott's interpretation of the blues (via the cello) takes us right down to the crossroads.

James Thomas - Fresh off of an impressive showing in the 2017 Telluride Blues Challenge, James makes a return appearance to the 2018 competition. With hot piano licks, soulful singing, and chops for days, James delivers a modern interpretation of the blues that is steeped in tradition.

Alex Paul - With guitar prowess and vocal aesthetic that nail the blues format, Alex's biggest strength is his careful song-writing. Rich in wit and thoroughly deep in meaning, his songs are relatable and fresh but evocative of the great blues songsmiths.

Miles Adams - In his submission to this year's challenge, Miles delivered an impressive versatility that displayed a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the blues. At times swampy and dark, but still finding space for delicate melodies, Miles' interpretation of the blues feels familiar yet new and entirely original.

Robin Scott - As soon as Robin starts picking his resonator guitar and his slide graces across all six strings, we'll all be transported to a Clarksdale juke joint. When his strong, bluesy voice echoes through the hall, there will be no question Robin delivers an authentic blues performance.

Cousin Curtiss - To say Curtiss is a strong singer wouldn't do him justice—this man has pipes, and his music is packed full of energy. What's most impressive, though, is his ability to make his harmonica wail. If it's in the bones, it's in the bones.

How to Watch

The Telluride Blues Challenge Finals will be held Saturday morning 9am - Noon, September 15 on the Back Porch Stage at the Telluride Elks Lodge (472 W Pacific Ave). The contest happens as part of "Blues for Breakfast", complete with a breakfast spread and full bar including breakfast cocktails during the event. Admission to the competition is free! Breakfast and drinks available for purchase.

This event is a great way to see up-and-comers in the blues genre while starting your Saturday morning off before the Grand Tasting and music starts in the festival grounds. Watch as competitors perform 20 minute sets that will be judged on the quality of their overall live performance, instrument use, vocals, and presentation.



  • A premium Martin guitar provided by Telluride Music Company

  • 20 Minute set to perform on the Main Stage at the 2018 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

  • A full 60 minute set to perform on the Blues Stage at the 2018 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

  • 2 nights to perform on the 2018 Durango Blues Train

  • $300 cash prize

Runner Up

  • $200 cash prize

  • A performance set for the 2018 Sunday Blues for Breakfast event

Don’t miss what is sure to be an epic 2018 Telluride Blues Challenge!

Steve Gumble2018