Band fronted by Trumbull woman wins bluegrass competition

Amanda Cuda, Staff Writer
Published: 12:49 p.m., Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A band fronted by Trumbull resident Katie Wilson  beat four other acts to win the band competition at this year's Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival in East Hartford Sunday.

Not only did Katie Wilson and the Two-Time String Band secure one of the five coveted spots in the annual competition, but the band won first prize -- $750 and a guaranteed spot at next year's festival. The band is the first Connecticut act to win the competition, and the first to win both first prize and the fan favorite award. "It couldn't believe it," said Wilson, 27. "It was great, but it was surreal."

Wilson, also a student at Housatonic Community College , released her self-titled debut album last year. Playing at the festival, which is 15 years old and features some of the top bluegrass acts in the country, was a big deal for the young artist. In addition to taking part in the competition, the Two-Time String Band also performed Saturday night. Wilson said, though the Saturday night performance was fun, she was somewhat anxious going into Sunday's competition. "We were the last band to perform," she said. "It was a little nerve-wracking."

She needn't have worried. Not only did Wilson win, but the judges offered only minor criticisms. That was a nice surprise, said Richard Neal, the band's guitarist. "What they said most of all was how much they enjoyed the show," said Neal, who lives in Stratford and is also Wilson's writing partner.

Before taking on a musical career in earnest several years ago, Wilson was resistant to pursuing singing professionally, believing she wasn't good enough. Wilson said the band's victory at the competition confirmed that she was right to leave those insecurities behind. "This has kind of changed a lot inside me," she said. "(This proved that) this is what I need to be doing, not just what I love to be doing."