The Fiddler’s Convention has a deep-seeded history in Gordon County and was popular at least from 1927 until World War II when rationing made it too difficult to continue. According to Paul Shoffner, Jr., Gordon County “was a hotbed of both pioneering country music writing and recording from the 20’s to the 40’s, and also host to large conventions which attracted the superstars of that time, including Uncle Dave Macon, Riley Puckett, Clayton McMichen and the first man to cut a country record in the South and broadcast his country music live on radio, Fiddling John Carson.
With this astounding local musical heritage, it is not surprising that plans have been made for The Gordon County Fiddler’s Convention to roar back to life after a seventy year silence.
Modeling itself after the original, competitions in Fiddle, Banjo and String bands will produce winners of generous cash prizes, and top Buck Dancers will receive commemorative Medal Ribbons. Many of the same century-plus vintage tunes will be very much in evidence during the competitions, but there will also be performances by many local and regional bands, which will illustrate the great influence of our pioneer’s craft to newer forms of stringed efforts. Some of this lineage is made manifest by genetics as well: Descendants of our influential 20’s musicians are very much actively performing, with the Chitwood- Medder’s- Powell families immediately coming to mind. Headlining will be The Freight Hoppers, from Bryson City, NC, but containing two Georgia boys, which of course explains why they are known as among the very best purveyors of this essential Southern American music.
Food vendors, Luthiers (instrument-makers), CD sales and other related items will be available, and many spontaneous jams will traditionally take place throughout the festival, as many fans of this Old Time Music love to share these tunes and play collectively, adding much to the entertainment value.
The Georgia Crackers, from around the Atlanta area, will start things off Friday night, at the opening concert downtown, at the Ratner Theater. Their renditions of 20’s tunes written by Calhoun’s own music pioneers will not only charm and entertain, but offer much in the way of local history, as their humorous and informative introductions add terrific context to these timeless songs. Next will be The New Binkley Brothers, also named for an actual 20’s vintage string band from near Chattanooga, but also containing a Binkley great-grandson. Their delightful selections and delivery will leave no doubt as to why they are among the most popular heritage music groups in the region. Admission, $15 at the door, or in advance (suggested).
Saturday brings The Fiddler’s Convention at the Fairgrounds, starting at Noon, and lasting until Dark-Thirty, with the admission being $10, children under 12 admitted free. Seating is limited, so sling-chairs are suggested. This is a rain-or-shine event as covered venues are available.
The Georgia String Band Festival is a presentation of the Harris Arts Center, with generous sponsorship by Omnova, Coppedge & Evans, P.C., Chris Taylor Construction, Proctor Chiropractic, Bridges Discount Home Store and Old Hat Records. Further information may be had from our FaceBook Page, or by calling 706-629-2599. Y’all Come!
Who: The Georgia Crackers
Where: The Harris Arts Center
When: Friday, May 13, 8 p.m.
Who: The Fiddler’s Convention
Where: The Cherokee Capital Fairgrounds
When: Saturday, May 14, noon until dark
Fiddler’s Convention roaring back after 70-year absence
From Staff Reports