The Official Blog of Portland's Songwriter of the Year

Guitar Center Contest Recap

Just days after participating in Guitar Center’s Singer-Songwriter Search III with Don Was, I’m left experiencing a range of emotions that I can’t yet classify. It’s a lot of pride, a lot of disappointment, a lot of gratitude and a lot of, for lack of a better term, aimlessness.

I know it’s all good — I’m simply licking some personal wounds while simultaneously celebrating some personal victories — but hell, let’s dwell on the victories.

• Being in the Top 10 means I was hand-selected by Don Was out of 10,000 artists.
• I got a hundred-and-one new toys from Guitar Center.
• I met nine fine fellow songwriters who are all great people and talents and hard workers.
• My song choice, As the Crow Flies, was extremely well received. Pin-drop silence.
• I have zero regrets. There is absolutely nothing I feel I could have done better.
• Despite losing, Don Was found me in the crowd and said many kind things, including:

“The last time I witnessed someone with your kind of presence and voice, that leaped out beyond the speakers and pulled me in, was when I worked with Garth Brooks. You have it man.”

Don Was and Tyler Stenson

The day of the contest was a long one. Us contestants arrived at the venue (The Hotel Cafe) at noon and lived the “hurry up and wait” kind of existence — a lot of standing around, battling nerves and waiting for our next set of instructions. When the time came, we were called in to do sound check and personal interviews; discussing who we were, how music makes us feel, our personal experience within the contest, etc.

Thankfully, nerves calmed a bit after this.

Then, after much waiting, a kind of hush fell across the venue as Don Was, the man himself, walked in. With that, the Top 10 Finalists were all corralled into a small room, where he eventually walked in and greeted us as a group, explained his selection process, offered his respects and imparted some valuable knowledge. He has a Zen about him and although the temperature in the room was up ten degrees from normal, we collectively left with an ease.

Thankfully, nerves calmed completely after this.

I won’t speak to the other performances, however, when my time came to take stage, as the eighth contestant of the night, I was ready to burst. I started with a small joke to break the ice but then comfortably settled into a story of how As the Crow Flies came to be. Then, after setting the stage, it was time. I took it easy. I welcomed the silence. I connected with the audience. I delivered a worthy version. I blushed at the response.

There is a quick picture from my soundcheck below but do stay tuned for a fully edited video of my interview, introduction, performance, etc. What a night!

Tyler Stenson Guitar Center Top 10 Songwriter

In the end, I spent months eating and breathing this contest so now that it’s over, like I said above, I’m left feeling a bit aimless (a rare feeling for a goal-oriented guy like me).

Do not get me wrong, I am certainly proud of this Top-10 accomplishment and the value of the experience but, because I haven’t really planned anything beyond this weekend, in an effort to stay flexible if the door were to open, it’s time to regroup and watch my new path illuminate before me.

Thank you Guitar Center, Don Was, Jake Cheung, my fellow contestants and you lovely Elegant Folk for the priceless ride. Maybe next year.

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3 Responses to “Guitar Center Contest Recap”

  1. Sara Goodnick Says:

    Can’t wait to see what comes next! It was a major accomplishment, and you will continue to grow and explore as an artist who believe in what he does and is and is meant to be. Congratulations Tyler!

  2. Tyler Stenson Blog » Blog Archive » One Week Guitar Center Rally Says:

    […] know, better than anyone, that this contest is simply exhausting, however, having made the Top 10 last year, I believe it’s in my best interest to try one. more. […]

  3. Tyler Stenson Blog » Blog Archive » Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter 4 Says:

    […] placing in the Top 10 last year, I’ve decided to try my luck at Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter 4 with Don Was and Colbie […]

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