A dozen musicians from across the region will soon take part in a series of competitions for the opportunity to perform in Denison’s 2019 Music on Main concert series. Organizers for the annual concert series recently announced the 12 acts that will compete in Local Talent Live — a series of performances to determine who will get one of nine headliner spots in the series.


“We just wanted to give an opportunity to everyone who contacted us about being on the line-up,” Main Street Director Donna Dow said. “This whole process is making us aware of acts that we did not know about.”


Plans for the contest, which starts Feb. 7 at Tupelo Honey, were announced in September following the end of the 2018 concert series earlier in the summer. For this year’s concert series, Dow said Music on Main will feature a total of 18 musical acts with nine headliners and opening acts.


The contest will consist of three nights of concerts with four acts each night competing to draw in crowds to local venues for a 30-minute concert. Dow said the event will bring an added benefit of supporting local music venues across the city as well as drawing crowds to them.


“Some of the venues are smaller, so with larger crowds, it might end up standing room only,” Dow said.


The performers will be judged based on several criteria ranging from ticket sales, crowd participation, stage presence and showmanship, Dow said. One performer each night will go on to the finals, which will be held on March 21 at the Rialto Theater. Organizers for the event will also announce the full line-up for the concert series at the finals, Dow said.


Of the dozen competitors, six have or currently are affiliated with Denison-based Shawnda Rains Entertainment Group. This list includes Tiff Taylor, who performed on stage in Heritage Park as part of the 2017 concert series.


“I am really proud of them and feel that they will do well in the competition,” Rains said of her performers.


Rains said an event like Music on Main could prove to be the launching pad for an early career in entertainment and allow her students to make industry contacts with artists and booking agents as well.


“I think it could be a big opportunity and great experience for my students,” Rains said.


With multiple students in the contest, Rains said she doesn’t plan to play favorites and will be offering assistance and advice going into the competition.


“I kind of always go through this,” she said. “I will root for them all and I won’t choose favorites.”


With regard to the summer concert series, Dow said organizers have already started work on fundraising efforts by reaching out to local foundations and donors. This represents the first year since 2015 that Denison has not applied for a grant through the Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation for the concert series.


The city was unsuccessful in its bid for grant funding in 2018 following three years of support from the foundation for Music on Main.


“We weren’t successful last year and we didn’t feel like our chances were improved this year,” Dow said.


Dow said the 2018 series still proved to be successful even without the funding support from Levitt. This also allowed Denison some freedom in booking and choosing artists for last year’s series.


“We felt the model we used last year helped us and we want to continue with that,” she said.