Not hard to fall in love with fiddling


There really is nothing quite like music to soothe the soul, and in my opinion nothing gets the feet to moving quite like the good old fiddle. If a fellow could bottle up the feeling of a good country hoe-down, there’s no doubt in my mind he would be a millionaire overnight.

Fiddling contest. American Profile newspaper carried a story recently about the upcoming National Oldtime Fiddler’s Contest, scheduled June 21-26. It is hosted in Weiser, Idaho, a farming community of about 5,000, where it has been held since 1963.

An old-time fiddler is described as one who plays the old folk tunes that make a person want to get up and dance.

Last year’s grand champion was a 16-year-old California boy named Tristan Clarridge, who originally trained as a classical violinist, so he’s not exactly the type of person that instantly jumps to mind when “fiddle contest” is mentioned.

The fiddle music played at the Idaho competition must be memorized, because there is no sheet music allowed on the stage. Advocates of the true fiddle magic say sheet music simply can’t capture the life of the toe-tappin’ music that only a fiddle can provide, fancy licks and all.

Atmosphere. For those who are lucky enough to camp on the grounds, imagine the atmosphere outside of the competition.

The camping area is filled with musicians who won’t, for one reason or another, ever set foot on the competitive stage. Some are life-long fiddlers, but some enjoy playing the dobro, accordion, mandolin, while some even specialize in the spoons. I would imagine there are several harmonica players in the bunch, too.

Artistic nature. I grew up thinking that there are two forms of art that would be absolutely awesome with which to be blessed: to be able to draw, paint or sketch, and to be able to play with ease a musical instrument that fills the heart with joy.

One of my favorite things to do was to listen to my friends, the Rose sisters, sing together, strumming their guitars with an incredible talent. Cathy, Rita and Ginny made it look so easy, and they obviously enjoyed every minute of it.

They came from a musical set of parents, and for several years the whole family of nine traveled by bus to churches and revivals as The Rose Family, even cutting an album along the way.

They could harmonize in such a beautiful way – there simply aren’t words to describe how their music reached out and touched souls.

Brother Billy. Their youngest brother, Billy, could play almost any instrument set in his hands, stopping us all in our tracks to listen to his latest musical accomplishment.

I taped the family singing together a few years ago when they all gathered at Rita’s house one beautiful summer day, and as always, the air was filled not only with music but lots of high-spirited laughter.

Billy on the banjo that day was incredibly memorable, his fast-paced tempo while playing the theme song from The Beverly Hillbillies flawless and amazing.

There’s just nothing that lifts the spirit like good music. What a blessing!


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.