On Tuesday night, the mid-point of Duluth Dylan Fest, local singer-songwriter Shane Nelson told the story of discovering the late bull rider Mason Lowe in an article he read while lying in bed one night.
It struck him, the irony of the way the pro was thrown from a bull named Hard Times. Nelson turned the story into the song "Mason Lowe," which was selected by a handful of judges as the winner of the 2021 Duluth Dylan Fest Songwriting Competition. It's the second consecutive win for Nelson, who also took the title in 2019.
"I feel like the story isn't even finished," Nelson said from a Zoom square during a virtual premiere of the video for the song created alongside Song from the North Country.
Will Durie of Hibbing took second place, and Svare Forsland of Bogalusa, Louisiana was third. All three received cash prizes.
Judges include Gene LaFond, who toured with Bob Dylan, Amy Grillo, Patrick Eliason, Jamie Ness, Miriam Hanson, Karen Sunderman and, full disclosure, Christa Lawler of the News Tribune.
The video features Nelson singing his country ballad, with sing-and-play-along cameos from singers and musicians from Song from the North, a collective of local musicians that includes artists like Kim Curtis-Monson of Fish Heads, Bill & Kate Isles, and more. It's available for streaming on Song from the North Country's YouTube channel.
Lowe, a professional on the rodeo circuit, was among the top bull riders on the tour in 2019 when he was thrown by Hard Times during an event at the Denver Coliseum. The bull stepped on Lowe's chest and suffered damages to his internal organs.
The Duluth Dylan Fest's Songwriter Showcase, featuring Nelson, Durie, John Sonofmel and Mel Sando, is 2-4 p.m. May 30 at Earth Rider Festival Field.