"16 Tons" Music Competition Winners Announced - The Birthplace of Country Music
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“16 Tons” Music Competition Winners Announced

The Birthplace of Country Music is excited to announce the winners of the “16 Tons” Music Competition. The competition began last year in November and encouraged artists from the region to submit video performances of the Merle Travis hit made famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Patrick Long and The Wicked Pines of Clarksville, Tennessee earned first place in the competition. Second place honors went to Marlené Pigford of Johnson City, Tennessee, and Kingsport, Tennessee’s The Real Life Heavies received third place.

“Patrick Long has an incredible career in front of him,” stated Buck Ford, Tennessee Ernie Ford’s son and a contest judge. “Hands down, one of the coolest takes on this song I’ve ever heard!”

Submissions were judged by a panel of Birthplace of Country Music Museum staff and musicians from The Paramount Chamber Players, as well as members of the Tennessee Ernie Ford and Merle Travis families. The cover versions were judged on the quality of the performance as well as musical creativity and originality.

“We had such a huge range of unique entries, from a heavy metal band to a Sweet Adelines barbershop group, that comparing them was really difficult,” said Dave Lewis, Curator of Collections and Digital Media at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. “Ultimately though, our judging panel settled on these three winners—though they were different in style and approach, each was inventively arranged and skillfully performed.”

As part of the winning prize package, the first-place winner was asked to perform their version of “16 Tons” at the exhibit’s closing concert, co-produced by The Paramount Chamber Players. A scheduling conflict prevents Patrick Long and The Wicked Pines from performing at the show; however, second-place winner Marlené Pigford will step in to fill the slot.

The concert is scheduled for Saturday, February 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the Paramount in Bristol on what would have been Ford’s 97th birthday. The show will feature songs from Ford’s vast repertoire performed by The Paramount Chamber Players, special guests The Jeff Little Trio, a choral ensemble and vocal soloists, along with accompanying narration.

The tribute concert is companion programming to the “Tennessee Ernie Ford: A Life On Stage” special exhibit at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum which will come to a close on Sunday, February 14.

Tickets to A Tribute to Tennessee Ernie Ford at Paramount Bristol are on sale now for $20 per person at the Paramount box office and online at www.BirthplaceofCountryMusic.org.

Winning artist submissions can be viewed on YouTube using the following URL addresses:

Patrick Long and The Wicked Pines: https://youtu.be/L_ILxhLfexQ
Patrick Long and The Wicked Pines are a Clarksville, Tennessee-based band that was founded in 2014. Patrick Long, vocal and guitar, and the two “Wicked Pines,” Daniel Walker on bass and Jacob Markus on lead guitar, enjoy making music together and with others in Tennessee and Kentucky. Also joining the band on this cover are Ian Matthew Harper on drums and Aaron Tagliaboschi on piano.

Marlené Pigford: https://youtu.be/_R_V8PSF4U8
Originally from Florida, Pigford moved to Johnson City, Tennessee, in 2005 with her family. Music is her calling; she came by it naturally thanks to her parents, who are both musicians. Pigford has a heart for people and animals and plans to use her time on this earth to help them in any way she can.

The Real Life Heavies: https://youtu.be/2bM9gWiwjl8
The Real Life Heavies are a relatively new trio formed in 2015, designed for energetic live performances and to freely move between genres with an infectious touch of R&B/groove. Although the group’s focus is original with upbeat rock and blues-infused soul music, front man and songwriter Jeffrey A. Lane has a real passion for “reworking” classics into other genres, and along with drummer Brian Seiler and bassist Johnny Nat Rasar, The Heavies create an ingenious style that is outright infectious!

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