The Grand Haven-based group outplayed 9 other bands from across the country to snag a cash prize and an appearance on the bluegrass festival’s main stage in 2023.
Telluride has long been synonymous with the best in bluegrass.
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And now, another West Michigan band has claimed top honors in the Colorado festival’s annual bluegrass competition.
Full Cord earlier this month topped 9 other bands to win the annual contest, earning a $750 top prize, and more importantly, a main stage appearance in the 2023 Telluride Bluegrass Festival held in Colorado.
The Grand Haven-based band played three songs in two different rounds as part of the competition which featured five groups from Colorado and four from other parts of the West.
“To share the stage with all of the amazing musicians that have played that stage is an incredible feeling as well as humbling. I personally had a super charged feeling when we went on that stage for the second round and I played and sang to the very best of my ability,” said mandolinist Brian Oberlin of Grand Rapids.
“I’m not sure how I did because I was so high on an adrenaline buzz. … Our main focus for winning the contest is so we could play an entire set at the 2023 festival.”
Full Cord, which also won some studio time to record an EP, isn’t the first Michigan band to impress judges in the contest.
National progressive bluegrass powerhouse Greensky Bluegrass from Kalamazoo is a past contest winner, along with notable genre stars such as the Dixie Chicks, Trout Steak Revival, Lil’ Smokies and Nora Jane Struthers & The Bootleggers.
A BUSY WEEK AND SUMMER AHEAD FOR FULL CORD
Full Cord – which features Oberlin, guitarist and co-founder Eric Langejans, bassist and co-founder Todd Kirchner, fiddler Grant Flick, banjoist Gabe Hirshfeld and singer Katie Kirchner – released an acclaimed studio album, “Hindsight,” last year and has a busy summer of performances lined up. (Due to a family emergency, Matthew Davis filled in on banjo for the Telluride contest.)
The band plays Lake Ann Brewing in Lake Ann on Friday (July 1), Free Soil’s Summer Sunset Series on Saturday (July 2), Smiling Acres Music Festival in Trufant on Sunday (July 3) and East Grand Rapids’ Fourth of July celebration on Monday, followed by a July 8 show at Bell’s Brewing Eccentric Café in Kalamazoo.
Full Cord recently was signed to Dark Shadow Recording and has started work on a new studio album, set for release in spring 2023.
Oberlin, who had attended Telluride twice before, credits the festival for inspiring him to “set my shoes in the path of being a professional musician.” On his second visit in 2013, he was a finalist in the event’s troubadour contest and played the main stage as a soloist.
For this year’s Telluride competition, he said bluegrass guitarist Stephen Mougin helped Full Cord “with polishing our arrangements the night before and the band nailed it” during its contest appearance.
The band — which last year won the ROMP festival virtual band contest — also boasts other high-profile festival performances as part of its summer 2022 schedule.
“We’re always pumped to play Hoxeyville (in August in Wellston) and you can catch us there at the silent disco and a main stage set,” Oberlin said.
“We’re also really excited to play the Wild Thyme Festival in Allegan (July 29-31). This is a new festival, but it is really well done.”
VIDEO: Full Cord, “White Freightliner Blues” (Live)
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