It only took a panel of judges about 10 minutes to deliberate backstage at the sold-out Revelry Room last night before Nick Lutsko and his band of puppet players were named winners of the 2016 Road to Nightfall competition.

Lutsko edged out Athens, Tennessee-based Mendingwall for the victory.

The band was introduced by Jonathan Susman, co-founder of Gig City Productions (the company behind Road to Nightfall). Susman spoke at length about the thriving Chattanooga music scene before offering the microphone to Lutsko.


“Gracias,” Lutsko told the crowd. “That’s Spanish for ‘thank you.'”

The win snags several prizes for Lutsko and his band, including $2,000 and studio recording time. The grand prize, however, is the opportunity to perform a 90-minute headlining set during this summer’s Nightfall concert series.

Lutsko also won 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.

Click here to watch Lutsko’s set, courtesy of EPB’s CityStream. asked Lutsko to elaborate on the win, and he issued the following statement on Sunday morning:

I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet, but I am obviously incredibly honored. I couldn’t be more proud of my band. The guys are so uniquely talented and take things to another level with every show. Performing to a sold-out crowd at Revelry Room was a real thrill. Every band was on point. There was a moment in each set where I thought, “Great. They’re going to win.” Winning the guitar was not even on my radar. That was a huge surprise. Fake feuding with Preston Parris has also been a blast. Love it or hate it, it definitely got Chattanooga talking about Road to Nightfall. I wish I could take credit, but it was Preston’s idea. Add “comic mastermind” and “marketing aficionado” to the man’s résumé. Infinite thanks to Richard Winham, Richard Lloyd, Carla Pritchard, Mike Dougher, Chris Cobb, Jonathan Susman, Barrett Taylor and all of the sponsors. Even more thanks to Chattanooga. We love you and vow to blow as many minds as humanly possible at Nightfall this summer.

The other bands were Preston Parris Band, High Meadows Communion and Caney Creek Company. Each of the runner-ups will have an opportunity to perform an opening set during the Nightfall concert series.

Susman praised the professionalism of all the bands throughout the competition.

“I think this has honestly been my favorite year for Road to Nightfall, not only because of the growth and evolution of the event itself, but because every single band that performed throughout the series (and especially last night) had talent,” Susman said. “All five sets last night were solid, professional and really well performed.”

He went on to say the success of the competition is due, in part, to the growth of Chattanooga’s music scene.

“I am continually blown away by the talent we have here, and you can see a noticeable difference in the way our local musicians carry themselves now-there’s a pride and determination to build and curate a strong local scene,” he said. “That’s the real reason I love this series so much. The winner is always great, but the experience of seeing the level of talent continually rise is my motivation.”

During the lead-up to the finals, Lutsko was embroiled in a fake feud with Preston Parris. The feud helped create hype for the show, and even got involved. Click here to read more about the feud and to view a “debate” between the artists.

Despite the animosity-again, completely fabricated-Parris was quick to congratulate Lutsko on his success. He released the following video on his Facebook page on Sunday following the show.

ATTN Nicholas Lutsko Greezy Rick!!!#RTN2016 #CongratsNick

Posted by Preston Parris onSunday, March 27, 2016