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Robert Kotta Memorial Songwriting Contest
Each year, Maritime Folknet holds a songwriting competition to encourage more songs to be written about maritime life in the Northwest, past and present. The contest is open to all, free to enter, and is dedicated to the memory of an important part of the Northwest maritime music story.
The winners will be invited (but are not obligated) to perform their song on stage at the Port Gamble Maritime Music Festival, where they will be officially announced. First, second, and third place winners are chosen, and all three receive a prize. There are rules, there are dates, and each year's contest has a theme...
The 2019 Theme is: Legends in the Making
First place: $100
Second place: $50
Third place: $25
July 9 –  All entries must be received by today.
July 24 –  Winners are notified (by email or phone).
August 10 –  Winners perform* their entry on stage at the Port Gamble Maritime Music Festival.
[* Winners are invited, but are not obligated, to perform their song live at the festival. If winners chose not to appear live, the festival organizers have the option of playing the mp3 recording of the winning song(s).]
Download the 2019 Poster
Submit your Entry
The 2019 deadline has passed.
Winners will be announced (below) the first week of August
and their winning songs performed at the festival on August 10th
(festival schedule here).
Include a lyric sheet and an mp3.
Include your Name, Email Address, and Phone Number.
You may submit your entry by email or by mail
By Email: email@example.com
Alice Winship/Maritime Folknet
2933 – 2nd Ave Apt. 203
Seattle, WA 98121
The Contest's Namesake
|An integral part of Northwest maritime musical history, Bob Kotta was born in California.
Portland was the first stop on his folk journey. He was a founder of the seminal folk group,
Howling Gael, which produced two albums and performed all around America, and in Ireland and
the UK as well.
Eventually he was led to Seattle, where he, William Pint, and Paul Smith performed as the folk group, Copperfield and also as Ellipsis. There were several releases from both bands, and they toured internationally. He is a featured performer on the Victory Music CD, "Victory at Sea", and can be heard on CDs of several notable chantey singers, including Tom Lewis. During this time, he worked for NW Seaport as a Director of Education, leading tours and teaching both children and adults about the age of sail, using the Wawona as the backdrop. He also ran the music program for the Seaport and booked many great acts on the stage of Wawona. He was a gifted songwriter, penning many songs, including "A Hundred Years Ago" with Mariide, and writing several hilarious parodies, including "Bug-eyed Sprite" and "Tequila in the Jar".
The east coast called, and Bob moved to Massachusetts to work at the Kendall Whaling Museum as Director of Education. Music was never far from his hand, and he is featured on a CD of Pirate Songs that came out of that time. He had just received a master's degree from Simmons College, and was looking forward to teaching at the local high school when he died untimely.
2019 Contest Theme: Legends in the Making
First Place: Wendy Joseph for composing "Tugboats Pulling on the Bridge Lines"
Second Place: Justin Wood for composing "Six Pack Dan"
Third Place: Cecilia Eng for composing "A Crabber's Life"
Honorable Mention: Jan Zurcher for composing "From Father To Son"
2018 Contest Theme: The One That Got Away
First Place: Fae Wiedenhoeft for composing "Fishing"
Second Place: Rob Kneisler for composing "The One That Got Away"
Third Place: Michael Codding and Claire Anderson for composing "Sirens of Shilshole"
2017 Contest Theme: Now & Then
First Place: Jane Fallon for composing "Heading Ashore"
Second Place: Rob Kneisler for composing "Still, the Salmon Run"
Third Place: Justin Wood for composing "Johnny Still Goes to Hilo"
2016 Contest Theme: Shipmates
First Place: Thomas Sproger for composing "The Trawlers of Ilwaco"
Second Place: Rob Kneisler for composing "Last Man Standing"
Third Place: Justin Wood & Michael DiRoberts for composing "Shipmates"
2015 Contest Theme: Voyages
First Place: Fae Wiedenhoeft for composing "The Little Western"
Second Place: Pierre Rose for composing "Running the Easting Down"
Third Place: Jan and Jim Zucher for composing "Sail Ye Off"
2014 Contest Theme: Weather & Tides
First Place: Jan Zurcher and Jim Zurcher for composing "The Wreck of the Anna J"
Second Place: Kathi McKenzie for composing "Oh, The Sea is Calling"
Third Place: Allan Hirsch for composing "The Denny Party"
2013 Contest Theme: Maritime Work
First Place: Fae Wiedenhoeft for composing "The Sailor"
Second Place: Jan Zurcher for composing "Tall Ships"
Third Place: Brendan Regan for composing "Bering Seattle"
(the contest was not held these years)
2009 Contest Theme: Maritime Work in the 21st Century
First Place: Jon Campbell for composing "Catch and Release"
Second Place: Ken McCann for composing "Born to Sail"
Special Mention: Stephanie Bonsanti for composing "The 21st Century Menu"
Questions about this contest should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org