This year the Crystal Lounge is tweaking the name of its annual fall music competition—it's dropping the "new" from Whistler's New Music Search. "We had (long-time) local people last year, so it wasn't necessarily 'new,'" says Oliver Nudds, manager at the Crystal and organizer of the event. "It doesn't have to be new people; (long-time) locals can jump on stage as well."
The event, heading into its ninth year, has become a much-loved part of Whistler's music scene. Every Thursday in October musicians and bands climb up on stage with hopes that a panel of judges will decide to advance them to the finals—set to take place on Oct. 26.
The first-place prize is $1,000, a photo shoot by the event's host Rachel Lewis and gigs at the Crystal. The second-place winner, meanwhile, will receive an electric acoustic guitar, as well as gigs at the venue. There's also the "Dave Morris award for originality."
While it's exciting to see which talent is selected each week, overall, the contest offers all competing musicians a boost in profile. "I just think it opens a lot of doors to new artists and the new people who arrive in town," Nudds says. "They say Whistler is the most educated ski resort in the world, which I believe is true. There's so much talent behind every single person who comes here that people don't know about."
He points to the 2017 winner, Vendulka, as an example. "She was known in town slightly, but no one knew how good she was or knew she was a contestant on X Factor in Australia. It blew people (away)."
Another unique aspect of the contest is that contestants must play at least one original song. "It shows they're not just a cover band; they can also produce new material," Nudds says.
Judges will be considering originality, style and crowd response, he adds.
While Nudds is confirming the schedule for which musicians will perform on which week, he says he is still accepting last-minute applications.
"We do get a lot of late entries," he says. "We still have people applying even in week one or two. We'll still accept suitable candidates, if we feel it's definitely worth putting them in the competition."
The top three acts chosen from each week will go on to the finals, but there will also be a wildcard chosen from one of the weeks to vie for the top spot in the finals as well.
"This is one of the highlights of the year," Nudds says. "Ask any musician in town who's been here the last 10 years and they'll say during the season, this is one of the most fun live music events around."
Those interested in applying to compete can message Nudds through the Crystal Lounge's Facebook page. Those interested in watching can turn up every Thursday in October at 9 p.m. The shows are free, except for the final week when it will be $5 entry.