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Boxcar Daisy wins Avon leg of songwriting competition

Caramie Schnell
cschnell@vaildaily.com
VAIL CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyEagle resident Elli Gauthier won the songwriting competition held at Agave in Avon Wednesday.
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Twenty-six contestants showed up at Agave in Avon Wednesday night for the 7908 Aspen Songwriters competition, but only one walked away the winner.

Eagle resident Elli Gauthier, one half of the local singer-songwriter duo Boxcar Daisies, took home the honors.

“It was such a good feeling, and totally, 100 percent unexpected,” Gauthier said. “There were so many good musicians there. You see a lot of music in the valley, but you don’t see a lot of focus on the craft of songwriting, so I was happy to see that here.”



Nearly 100 people showed up to watch the competition, said Agave owner Richard Wheelock.

“We saw so many good musicians,” Wheelock said.



In the end, Gauthier’s “poignant songwriting” stood out, Wheelock said.

“What sold it for Elli was her ability to invoke emotion, her creative arrangement and her lyrics that told a story,” said local musician Jake Wolf, who was one of four judges. “She stuck out as something different. We thought if we’re going to send someone from our town to represent us, we should send her, she’s the best.”

The judges –Wolf, Tricia Swenson of TV8, Tony Mauro of KZYR and Rob Eaton from Dark Star Orchestra –whittled the contestants down to five finalists, including local musicians Kevin Heinz, Mike Wheeler, Sean Healey, Michael Thomas Smith and Gauthier.



Gauthier and Smith tied for the finalist and had a sing off, which Gauthier took.

“I felt her third song invoked a lot of emotion; it quieted the room down,” Wolf said. “As soon as she started singing, the whole room got really quiet.”

Six Colorado towns, including Avon, are holding preliminary competitions this month. Each town will send one finalist, for a total of six, to Aspen to perform during the first three days of the 7908 Aspen Songwriters Festival, March 21-25. A confidential panel of judges will choose who they term “Colorado’s Best Songwriter 2012.”

Gauthier, along with the other five finalists, will win three nights’ lodging in Aspen, perform in several of Aspen’s bars in three evenings and receive a full festival pass for the 7908 event and an invitation to all after-show parties. The overall winner garners two extra nights of lodging and will perform at the 7908 finale concert, featuring Matt Nathanson, with a special introduction by Songwriter Hall of Fame member John Oates, who co-produces the festival.

“I’m behind Elli one thousand percent,” Wolf said. “I want to go to Aspen to see it; she could take the cake. She has an amazing voice, and her pitch was perfect, too.”

Tickets for the festival go on sale Jan. 23. Visit http://www.wheeleroperahouse.com to learn more.

You can see Gauthier perform Friday night with some friends at Kirby Cosmo’s in Minturn, or Jan. 20 or 27 with KT Homes as Boxcar Daisies.


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