Local musician ties for 1st in Denver songwriter contest
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The listeners and fans of local musician Tyree Woods are expanding beyond Routt County quicker than Woods’ fastest guitar riff.
In early autumn, a friend of Woods mentioned a contest they’d seen advertised — the BGE Songwriter Awards, at Capitol Hill-area music venue Your Mom’s House in Denver — and Woods joined one of more than a hundred other musicians to send in a sample entry, featuring his guitar-playing and vocals of his original song “Monday.” The contest organizers chose their favorite 13 entries and invited those musicians, including Woods, to perform at Round One of the Awards, set for Nov. 3.
Alongside Woods were Andy Sydow, Michael Dupon, Nico Zacrone, Dominick Antonelli, Easy Lovin’, Logan Thomas, Sunny Sideways, Upstairs Neighbor, Finn O’Sullivan, Indica Cinema, We Talk More on Whensday and Caroline Stump. The acts would be evaluated by votes by both the event’s crowd and appointed judges to find the best six, who’d move onto the final round.
“The venue’s really cool. There’s a lot of EDM (electronic dance) music there,” said Woods, who sings and plays guitar with acoustic, soul-grass group Buffalo Commons.
“My music couldn’t be farther from EDM,” he added.
Woods’ 15-minute set featured his original songs “Monday,” “Cannonball Jones” and “The Traveler,” which he performed with his friend Alyssa Medina on vocals. “The Traveler” is named for Buffalo Commons’ and Butcherknife Brewing Co.’s collaboration beer, The Traveler Brut IPA. Their performance got Woods rousing applause and an invitation to the final round of the contest, set for Dec. 8.
Woods had been surprised at how many of the first round’s contestants performed with entire bands, given the fact that it was a songwriting contest.
“It’s hard to stand up to full bands, (as a single or duo act),” he said. “I do think it’s important to not blur the line between a band contest and a songwriting contest.”
So for the final round, he brought along his Buffalo Commons bassist Denton Turner and banjo player Gabe Riding.
“I felt good about how it went,” he said. “You don’t get that kind of reaction without being totally real. Not all music is for everyone, but when some people do connect with your music deeply — that’s magical.”
Once Woods’ set was finished, he headed out and hurried home to Routt County — he had a four-hour drive and an impending blizzard to drive through.
“No one said anything to me for like a day and a half,” Woods said with a chuckle. “I thought I lost.”
So when friends and fans asked how the contest went, Woods reported back that it was a fun show, a good learning experience and that he hadn’t won, which was OK.
“It was a good feeling — a character builder — to feel like I lost but still stayed positive about it,” Woods said.
But then, a notification popped up on Woods’ social media. He’d been tagged in a post by the band Easy Lovin’, announcing that they’d tied for first in the contest — with Woods.
While Woods has been playing all over Steamboat Springs for years and has won Best of the Boat Best Band with Buffalo Commons in 2018 and 2019, he’s relatively new to entering singer-songwriter contests.
“It felt good to get validation from people I don’t know and who don’t know me,” he said.
He’s recently entered several others, including a contest through Buick, another through Merlefest, the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, as well as Operation Encore, a nonprofit music collaboration showcasing singer-songwriter talents of veteran and military members from across the U.S.
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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