Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2009 Arkansas Fiddle and Strings Camp

Fiddle Camp '09 is in full swing as can be clearly heard among the halls of Antioch Baptist Church in Conway, AR. A quick trip to the upstairs area would reveal many hands eagerly probing the strings of a fiddle or guitar.

Each day, around 20 campers gather to play tunes together in preparation of a final performance on Friday evening. A number of tunes ranging from Irish to Cajun style fill any available air space within the church walls. The amount of energy created is surely enough to power the light needed for camp. There is, in fact, one way to insure the energy is transfered. Join us Thursday evening at Something Brewing in downtown Conway and if your toes aren't tappin' maybe your ears aren't really listening. The energy here is contagious!

Each time a group approaches the stage to perform, the remaining campers poise to listen as the group plays a tune. Delightful smiles and expressions of relief are all evident as the finish arrives. Each face is indeed enveloped in the music. Each camper enjoying himself or herself. In the words of 10 year old camper, Nick Davanzo, camp is, "pretty cool". In particular, Nick enjoys having a banjo lesson where he can "learn new licks to put into other songs." Nick also says he enjoys camp because, "You get to meet other people and make friends."

Those interested in hearing some of these up and coming musicians should come to the final performance Friday night. For more information on the performance and Fiddle Camp '09, visit Fiddlin' Arkansas.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Arkansas Fiddle and Strings Camp

Find more photos like this on Arkansas Fiddle and Strings Camp Network

Bring your fiddle, bring your mandolin, bring your guitar, bring your banjo! It's time for Arkansas Fiddle and Strings Camp! Jams are free to the public every evening. Visit Fiddlin' Arkansas for regular updates on Fiddle Camp '09.

Instructors include Tim Trawick former Arkansas State Fiddle Champion, local teacher and performer. Charlotte Crosmer, former Arkansas State Fiddle Champion and member of SoMa String Quartet from the University of Arkansas. Jeremy Crosmer, former cellist for the Arkansas Symphony currently pursuing a doctorate in music. Chuck Hughes, central Arkansas resident and performer. Chuck has performed all over the nation and in Europe on numerous occasions. He specializes in banjo, lead guitar and mandolin.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fayetteville, Arkansas July Contra Dance

"Allemande right!"..."Ladies chain!"

Joyous hoots and yells fill up the emptiness that is the remote downstairs of Trinity United
Methodist Church.


The clattering racket emitted by feet in time reveal bodies obedient solely to a fiddle tune and the caller.

"One's down the line!"

Stomping and clapping to the beat, rhythm bleeds into gay faces to tickle hedonistic ears.

"Last time!"

Curly holds the last note of the tune an extra beat signifying the end of the dance. Sporadic untimely yet profound appreciation
is awarded the musicians as laughter and clapping erupt high into the air. Indeed, it is the monthly contra dance in the hills of northwest Arkansas!

Each month, tens of people come together to enjoy one another's company, wonderful old time music, and delightful dancing. Though not large in number, the community of dancers is always thrilled to partake in the festivities of the evening. Ladies wear large dresses that splay out filling the night with brilliant colors and designs throughout t
he evening. It seems no one is short of smiles as the music brings everyone pleasantly together.

The Old 78's usually provide the music. Performing frequently at prestigious festivals such as Doc Watson's Merlefest and at Winfield, KS where the National Flatpick Championships are held each year, Curly and Carol Anne provide some of the best and most unique old time music anywhere! Not bad for an Arkansas fiddler!

When the French took up the English country dance, it was called contradanse. They hardly knew the term would be adopted by Americans as it traversed the Atlantic. Contra dance as we call it today is a form of dancing that takes place all over the world. Usually forming two lines, partnered dancers move up and down the line dancing with
another couple until the music stops. Every third Saturday of the month, Trinity United Methodist Church opens its dance floor to anyone willing to get out and give it a try! Dances are always taught before they are performed. Mark your calendar and join us next month!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Arkansas Fiddler: Tim Crouch Interview

One of Arkansas' finest fiddlers, Tim Crouch has graciously agreed to participate in an interview for the blog. The following is an excerpt from that interview.

FA: Hey Tim! Thanks so much for giving your time to answer a few questions! I hope this interview will inspire and motivate fiddlers not only from Arkansas or of an old time, bluegrass or swing style, but violinists as well. You grew up playing old time, swing and bluegrass here in Arkansas. Where did you learn to play?

Tim: At the house. I had a lot of help.. My Dad got me started with a few notes of what he could do, then a local old time fiddler, Colonel Bruce, got me to playing Ole Joe Clark , and it was up and goin’ from there..

FA: And, what would you say is your favorite type of music to play?

Tim: I love the world between old time and Swing… I like all of it. But the tunes and the styles of Terry Morris to Bob Wills is some of my favorite..

Tim jamming with BJ Cherryholmes, Hunter Berry and more. Did you see Rhonda Vincent in the back?

FA: Who are some of your biggest influences musically?

Tim: Every fiddler I’ve ever heard.. I think styles influence me as much as the players sometimes.. Some of my favorite fiddlers though are, Johnny Gimble, Kenny Baker , Tommy Jackson , Buddy Spicher, Dale Potter, Chubby Wise .. I’m also influenced by other instrument players.. I learn ideas from piano players, guitar players, etc.

FA: How has learning fiddle tunes and competing in fiddle contests helped you succeed in the music business?

Tim: I played the fiddle contest when I was young and it gave me something to strive for.. Not just the money or a trophy, but competing more against myself to improve and get better hopefully.. And that still carries on today...

FA: There are times when we get frustrated, even unmotivated to play. For instance, a tune catches my ear and I want to learn it. I go to the record and listen. I watch YouTube videos to see others playing it hoping to maybe catch a fingering or two; however, when I get stumped at a place I just can’t seem to figure out, it’s VERY discouraging. Has this ever happened to you?

Tim: Yep.. I’ve had to learn songs to play behind singers and they’ve had to be note for note.. I just keep noodlin’ till I figure it out.. Sometimes a cup of coffee or just get up and get away from it and clear out helps.. Or I’ll use a mandolin to help find the notes.. Just a different tone instrument makes things come to light better sometimes..Unless I have to, I never try to copy someone’s solos note for note though.. I’ll come up with my own interpretation of the tune and play my own thing.. for better or worse…

FA: So, what inspires you to play and how to you go about getting inspired?

Tim: Inspiration comes different ways for me.. Hearing other players play can inspire me, or just a mood at the time can do it… I get to play a lot, so I stay inspired too..

Tim with Byron Berline, Mike Compton, Tim Stafford to name a few...

FA: In terms of Arkansas fiddlers, who are some of your primary influences hailing from Arkansas?

Tim: The late Jerry Hodge, Roger Fountain, Colonel Bruce, the late Faye Green, Brandon Apple, Pete Brown, Lonnie Collins, Caleb Cobb, Mary Mickler, and a slew of these young fiddlers.. They are really something…

FA: You’ve traveled all over playing for people. Is there a style or particular type of fiddling that you tend to see stand out in Arkansas? In other words, is there a brand of fiddling that you hear here more than anywhere else?

Tim: Old time fiddlin’ is what I think of first I guess… more of a cross between old time and Texas style...

FA: Now, could you comment on the current state of Arkansas fiddling?

Tim: I think it’s in good hands, especially with as many young fiddlers as I see popping up everywhere… And they can get it !! I hope that continues to grow and grow and we could see more events for fiddlers to have to go to.. Not just contests, but hopefully camps, and such…

FA: Anything you’d like to add?

Tim: I appreciate your asking me to do this.. Thanks to every fiddler I’ve ever heard, I get to play, and I hope Arkansas Fiddlin’ stays strong… Thanks.

FA: Thanks so much for your time, Tim! As one of the greatest fiddlers to come out of Arkansas, your opinions are highly valued. Your contribution here is greatly appreciated! Thank you Tim, for keeping Arkansas fiddlin’!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Arkansas Bluegrass at the State House

EVENT: Posey Hill will be playing tonight, Thursday, July 16 at the State House Museum in Little Rock. At 6:00 PM, one of Arkansas's premiere bluegrass acts will perform a free concert on the Old State House lawns.

Posey Hill is a home grown Arkansas band. Hailing from Donaldson, AR, members include Doug Burnett and his two daughters Kristian on bass and vocals and Erin on vocals. Multi-instrumentalist Chuck Hughes is also a member of Posey Hill. He provides fancy yet solid banjo work along with mandolin and occasional guitar backup. Also joining Posey Hill is young Arkansas fiddler Caleb Cobb. Caleb is an up and coming fiddler who will blow your mind! Caleb has already placed 3rd overall in the Arkansas State Fiddle Contest in Mountain View. At only 14, Caleb is well on his way to becoming one of Arkansas's great fiddlers.

Go check out Posey Hill and thank YOU for keeping Arkansas Fiddlin!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mountain View in Oxford American

Oxford American's Solost series recently did a video article on Mountain View, Arkansas. Produced by Dave Anderson, a 2006 finalist for the German Hansel Mieth award in photojournalism, "Pickin in Mountain View" provides a glimpse into the musical culture that is Mountain View, Arkansas.
Interviews with local residents J.C. Bonds, Freda Phillips, and others, Dave creates a diverse yet accurate painting of one of Arkansas' best kept secrets.  Jimmy Driftwood, who is most famous for lyricizing the old time fiddle tune "Eighth of January" creating "The Battle Of New Orleans", was integral in the popularization and continuing of the music in t

he self proclaimed Folk Music Capital of the World. His efforts can be seen today in the Ozark Folk Center and the annual Folk Festival in Mountain View.

Today, Mountain View, Arkansas is famous for its parking lot pickers and old time fiddlers who go to play on the square. Most days you will find groups of people out picking and fiddling. Young and old alike enjoy the old time tunes passed down from generation to generation. If you go, you may be sucked into the passion each person shares for the music. Like Martin says at the end of the Oxford American article, "If ya come here twice, the third time ya better have a movin' van hooked up to ya, cuz yer gonna be movin'!" Thank you Mountain View for keeping Arkansas fiddlin'!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

10 Favorite Things about Jamming

Jamming is one of the best ways to learn to play an instrument. Be it fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo, bass, ukulele, any instrument you can think of, jamming will make your practice time fun and enjoyable.

  1. The first reason jamming is one of my favorite things to do is that it is a BLAST!!! There is nothing more rewarding and fun that sitting around with friends and other musicians playing tunes.
  2. The second reason jamming is so great is that there is always a jam that you can find with other people who play at your level! This is less intimidating at first and helps you feel comfortable playing.
  3. Thirdly, jamming forces you to play! Sometimes practicing can be dull and you won't do it. Jamming enables you to practice without feeling like it's practice!
  4. Number 4! Jamming helps you get out and meet other musicians. This is key to continuing your playing. Our picking depends on the community in which we pick! Without each other, we wouldn't still be playing.
  5. The fifth reason jamming is my favorite thing is that it encourages me to learn new tunes. By jamming, I am exposed to new tunes that I can begin to learn in the jam!
  6. This brings me to the sixth reason jamming is my favorite. It keeps me motivated! When I jam with others and hear new tunes or hot licks, it makes me want to go practice which only makes me better.
  7. The seventh reason jamming is my favorite thing to do is that it relieves tension after a long day. This is a medicinal reason. Music is relaxing.
  8. Number 8! Jamming is my favorite thing to do because it keeps my fingers in shape. No matter what kind of music you're playing, keeping your fingers in shape is critical to reaching your goals musically.
  9. Jamming can breed new bands, gigs and money in your pocket. When you get out and jam with others, you become recognized for your playing. This may land you work!
  10. The tenth and final reason jamming is my favorite thing to do is because YOU are there! I LOVE it when you come to the jam and get involved! The world can never have too many pickers! Come on out and join us!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grand National Fiddle Championship

The high and mellow tones of fiddles swept across Fiddletown last weekend in Weiser, ID. Following ones ears is the simplest way to navigate the plethora of RVs and tents littered among the fields of Weiser. The swing sounds of Wes Westmoreland III, Alex Hargreaves, Bubba Hopkins, Justin Branum (of Swing Deville) and others cut clear and clean through the crisp Idaho night. As one tune led to another, each player added to the twisting melody. A feminine voice spit out words to tunes such as "How High the Moon" in a fashion Ella Fitzgerald and Anita O'Day  would have been proud of. The solid chunking of the rhythm guitar backed by a strong walking bass man provided the best beat around. Trading fourths then eighths, as a bee travels from flower to flower, each lick seemed to bounce from one violin to the next effortlessly. Oh the wonders of a Weiser jam!

The next day held the Grand National Finals. Ten fiddlers remained to compete for the big money and title of Grand National Fiddle Champion. Two rounds remained for this ye
ars winner to be crowned. The first round of Saturday evening's final was Round 5. All ten finalists would play this round. Three tunes consisting of a hoedown, waltz and tune of choice to be played in that order. This year, the audience was encouraged to participate by cheering. The previous 30 years this has been discouraged as some fiddlers found it distracting. It should also be noted that this round is timed. That is, each fiddler has 4 minutes in which to complete their round starting with the first note. If the 4 minute time limit is breached, a deduction of points is in effect. This round began with 5 time Grand National Champion Tristan Clarridge. The other 9 fiddlers consisted of former Grand National Champion and sister to Tristan, Tashina Clarridge (below), former Grand National Champion, 17 year old Alex Hargreaves, Kimber Ludiker, Bubba Hopkins, brothers Jesse and Wyatt Maw, Jaclyn Sites and Doug Fleenor. Upon
completion of this round, 5 contestants would be selected to compete in the final Round 6 to determine the ranking of the top 5.
Upon completion of Round 5, it was determined that one of the contestants had received a 20 point deduction for exceeding the 4 minute time limit! Alex Hargreaves, however, still managed to make the top 5. Tristan and Tashina Clarridge, Jesse Maw and Kimber Ludiker made up the remaining 5. Few surprises there. This round was done completely different than the rest of the contest. First of all, there was no time limit. Each fiddler had the capacity to play as long as he or she felt necessary. Three tunes would be played. The type of tune was selected lottery style. Each player was required to play a tune of that type but not one that had already been played. A list was provided by the judges for the benefit of the fiddlers to choose their tune. The audience was again encouraged to participate. The first tune to be played was a swing tune. Four chairs were set up at each corner of the stage while one fiddler was in the middle to play. This round benefited Alex slightly as he is talented swing player. He ripped into his tune and when he finished the ripping did not seem to die. The crowd went wild. The neatest tune played in my opinion was by Tristan. He chose the tune Back Home Again In Indiana and played a very pleasant arrangement. Each player sat down and anticipated the next type of tune. A rag was drawn to be played by the contestants. Again, Alex would seem to have an advantage as rags are very related to swing tunes. It was another exciting round in which I heard some rags I was unfamiliar with. The final tune to be played was a hornpipe. This round proved interesting as well. The most interesting new tune I heard was Sally Growler played by Alex Hargreaves in Bb.
With the final round complete, the judges, Wes Westmoreland III, Katrina Pearce Nicoyaleff, and Danita Rast Gardner-Menlo Park took some time to finalize their scores. As new emcee and Weiser Films Documentary producer/director, Greg Lehman announced the winners beginning with 10th place, the basketball stadium filled up to nearly standing room only. The to

p 5 all under the age of 27 placed as follows: 5th-Jesse Maw, 4th place-Tashina Clarridge, 3rd-Alex Hargreaves, 2nd-Tristan Clarridge, 1st-Kimber Ludiker. Upon Alex's announcement as 3rd place, there was a huge gasp from the crowd. Alex is one of the most talented fiddlers around these days. His deduction in Round 5 could have cost him his second Grand National Champion title. However, as much as everyone was surprised Alex got third, they were moreover ecstatic at Kimber's win. Kimber has a long history of fiddling in her family. She is related to Tony Ludiker a former Grand National Champion and also Dennis and Terry Ludiker, great fiddlers and accompanists as well. Kimber has placed in the top 10 many times before and everyone was excited that she finally won! Everyone of the top 10 fiddlers held great respect for each other. They are all outstanding fiddlers.
After the contest, jamming once more ensued. Kimber, Bubba and others gathered for another night of fiddlin' around. To hear part of this jam, follow this link to Youtube. Towards the end of this jam everyone knew their time at Weiser for this year was through. A bittersweet feeling was evident as everyone said their goodbye's eager for the arrival of next year's Grand National Old Time Fiddle Championship. Until next year, so long from Weiser!


Welcome to Fiddlin' Arkansas! This blog is devoted to Arkansas Fiddling. Keeping you up to date with contests, conventions, jams, fiddlers, and all things Arkansas Fiddling. Check out the State of Old Time Fiddling in Arkansas for special information on young, old and legendary fiddlers playing in or near your town. Also, national fiddle news will be posted here. Thanks so much for stopping by!