ITHACA, N.Y.—There’s nothing like some friendly competition — and with a performance slot at next year’s Grassroots Festival to win and nothing to lose, why not enter Grassroots’ Battle of the Bands?

Each year, Grassroots gives attendees the chance to compete against each other in a performance battle. The grand prize is getting to perform at the next year’s festival as a featured performer. This year the winner was singer-songwriter Max Shuhan, who performed under his stage name, Max Childs. Shuhan often performs with a band, though he did this performance solo. Each act in the contest was allowed to perform one song to show off their talent, and the winner was determined by a secret panel of judges scattered throughout the audience. 

Shuhan said he sang an original song while playing the keyboard, likely winning over the crowd when he disclosed that the song was written for his partner whom he proposed to on the Thursday of the festival.

Shuhan said he was excited that he won, but that he was still surprised at the outcome. 

“I was ecstatic, but I didn’t want to get too excited,” Shuhan said. “I thought that I performed really well, but the other people performing were awesome, so there was definitely competition. So when they said my name, it was kind of a ‘too good to be true’ moment.”

The opportunity to perform at next year’s Grassroots Festival is not far from what Shuhan is used to. The singer-songwriter has performed with several bands throughout the years, each playing sets across New York State. One of the bands Shuhan is in, Dean’s Kids, plays frequently on Funk Nights at The Range.

Shuhan said he enjoyed supporting the other contestants as they performed and seeing the musicians who traveled to Grassroots from up and down the East Coast.

“I think there were 16 or 17 acts that performed and they were all wonderful,” Shuhan said. “Everybody sounded great and it was just really cool to be a part of. The musicians that entered came from all over, like Miami, Vermont, and all power to them for getting up there and singing a song because it can be pretty nerve racking.”