As a way to sweeten his victory at the 2016 Road to Nightfall competition, local singer-songwriter Nick Lutsko was awarded a custom guitar this week from a local luthier.

During the finals in March, Lutsko was announced as the winner of a custom-built guitar from DiamondBack Stringworks for his “creative guitar playing,” according to Richard Lloyd, a guest judge and legendary guitarist for the band Television.

“Road to Nightfall is probably the biggest celebration of local music the city has to offer,” Lutsko said. “The camaraderie among competitors is really inspiring.”


Lutsko was presented with the guitar during a brief ceremony at DiamondBack Stringworks. Luthier A.J. Hancock started building cigar box guitars in summer 2008. Since, he has built one-of-a-kind mandolins, banjos, and electric guitars and pickups.

Hancock established DiamondBack Stringworks in 2013. He has constructed guitars for locals PeeWee More, Husky Burnette, J.B. Beverly, and, on the national scale, Steve Earle.

“This guitar is just icing on the cake,” Lutsko said. “I never considered the possibility of winning it because there were so many other great guitarists. It was a huge honor, and A.J. did an incredible job with it. I’m currently glued to this hunk of machinery, and I look forward to sharing it with the world.”

Lutsko edged out Athens, Tennessee-based Mendingwall for the RTN victory. In addition to the opportunity to perform before a live audience at Nightfall, Lutsko was also awarded several prizes, including $2,000 and studio recording time.

Applications for the 2017 Road to Nightfall competition are now being accepted. To qualify, at least three band members must live within a 45-mile radius of Chattanooga. Bands also must be able to perform a “solid 90-minute set that comprises mostly original material.”

Click here for contest rules and regulations.

This year’s competition will begin March 10 at Granfalloon. The finals will take place March 25 at a to-be-determined location.