I attended the Saturday session of the 43rd Annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Athens, Alabama this past weekend (since most Saturdays are on weekends...)
It was good to hear the pleasant sound of acoustic instruments in the open air again.
I have been attending this event off and on for many years.
Even when my former pastor banned such attendance by completely misunderstanding what goes on here.
Since I had seen the kind of "competition" that took place, I continued to come.
I knew the intentions of the minister were good but misplaced.
I did attempt to correct him in a brief private meeting with him, but he would not relent.
So I ignored his pronouncement.
This year, as in several years in the past, a theme or trend emerged during the course of the festivities.
One year it was the year of the kids.
Several bands and individual young people showed up with exceptional talent and took awards for their playing skills. (including a blind 14-year-old fiddler who blew the walls out with his skills)
Two young men who now play in Ricky Skaggs' band "Kentucky Thunder" were among those young players - Andy Leftwich (fiddle) and Cody Kilby (guitar).
This year it was the year of the girls.
Four of the five finalists in the Junior Fiddler division were young females.
And they were exceptional musicians.
I would have hated to be a judge and have to decide who among them was the best.
And a girl won that category.
There were at least two young females in the flatpick guitar competition, as well.
The same was true of the Bluegrass Band competition.
Yep, an ALL GIRL band tore the house down.
The group is/was the Ward Family from Columbia, Tennessee (they have a website...)
Pay attention kuz you may be hearing more from these ladies.
Although there seemed to be fewer teenagers this year than in years past (it fluctuates for reasons I have yet to understand), there were plenty of contestants from that age group.
A one-handed dobro player and band.