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Southern Fiddlers and Fiddle Contests

By Chris Goertzen

192 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 12 b&w photographs, bibliography, appendix, index

978-1-61703-209-7 Paper $30.00D

Paper, $30.00

A journey to the main public venue for the most vigorous American folk music tradition

Southern Fiddlers and Fiddle Contests explores the phenomenon of American fiddle contests, which now have replaced dances as the main public event where American fiddlers get together. Chris Goertzen studies this change and what it means for audiences, musicians, traditions, and the future of southern fiddle music.

Goertzen traces fiddling and fiddle contests from mid-eighteenth-century Scotland to the modern United States. He takes the reader on journeys to the important large contests, such as those in Hallettville, Texas; Galax, Virginia; Weiser, Idaho; and also to smaller ones, including his favorite in Athens, Alabama. He focuses on what happens on stage and such off stage activities as camping, jamming, and socializing, which many fiddlers consider much more important than the competition.

Through multiple interviews, Goertzen also reveals the fiddlers' lives as told in their own words. The reader learns how and in what environments these fiddlers started playing, where they perform today, how they teach, what they think of contests, and what values they believe fiddling supports. Southern Fiddlers and Fiddle Contests shows how such contests have become living embodiments of American nostalgia.

Chris Goertzen is associate professor of music history and world music at University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author of Fiddling for Norway: Revival and Identity and coeditor of the volume on Europe in the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music.

Photograph--Old-time fiddler Richard Bowman at Felts Park in Galax, Virginia, courtesy the author

192 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 12 b&w photographs, bibliography, appendix, index