47th annual Fiddler’s Convention brings young and young-at-heart to the stage

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 7, 2013

GRANITE QUARRY — The Granite Quarry Civitan Fiddler’s Convention has spanned generations with music.
Vivian Hopkins, the evening’s master of ceremonies, said she can remember attending the first convention when she was 12 years old.
Saturday’s event at East Rowan High School brought young musicians and experienced players to the stage — more than 50 performers in all.
What the audience might not see, or hear, are the stories behind the performers themselves, and the songs and instruments they play.
Danny Hargis played the dobro on stage Saturday. He’s been going to the annual Fiddlers Conventions, and many other such events, for years.
Hargis said he got ahold of his first dobro when it was brought to his house by someone who needed money.
Hargis already knew a bit about music — “Everybody’s got an uncle to teach ‘em those first few chords,” Hargis said, standing in the hallway outside the East Rowan auditorium, waiting his turn.
Today, Hargis is familiar with the performers who take the stage at conventions like this one. He said he travels to “about 30 of ‘em” a year.
“It’s just one big family,” Hargis said. “You watch folks grow up, watch them bring young folks into it.”
Don Livengood, who heads up the Fiddler’s Convention, said the event draws a crowd every year, and it’s always a surprise to see who turns out.
Some performers have family ties to the event, including Hopkins’ nephew, Jacob Wagner.
Wagner, who lives in Rockwell, said he was inspired to take up playing the banjo because his grandfather once played. “I never really got to meet him,” Wagner said.
But Wagner said he does have one of his grandfather’s old banjos, plus the one he played Saturday.
It was his first time playing on stage, Wagner said, and backstage, he was still trying to decide which song he wanted to play.
On the other hand, David Murph, of band the Gospel Plowboys, has been coming to Fiddler’s Conventions for many years.
His father, Andy Murph, used to play at the events. “I started actually playing mandolin in 1967,” David said.
That was the year after James Mathis, principal of Granite Quarry Elementary, brought the idea of a fiddler’s convention to town.
David said he remembers “being a young kid, being able to hear fantastic musicians” at the conventions.
The Most Promising Talent categories featured kids 11 and under, and ages 12 to 16.
Courtney Perry, of Stanfield, was the champion of the 11-and-under category. She performed a song, “Christmas Without You,” written in memory of her uncle, who passed away last year.
First runner-up in the 11-and-under category was Grace Bemus, of Salisbury. Second runner-up was Ruth Shumway, of Charlotte.
Winner of the 12-to-16 Most Promising Talent category was Daniel Thrailkill, of Mt. Ulla. First runner-up was Kimberly Griffin, of Monroe, and John Lee, of Mt. Ulla, was second runner-up.
Madeline Baucom, of Monroe, was champion of the Vocal category, followed by first runner-up Anna Grace Haigler, of Indian Trail, and second runner-up Savannah Moore, of Rockwell.
In the Dobro category, Danny Hargis was the champion, Robert Ellis, of Mocksville, was first runner-up and Sandy Hatley, of Salisbury, was second runner-up.
Champion in the Bass category was Andrew Brown, of Concord. First runner-up was Jim Conrad, of Mocksville, and second runner-up was Ricky Blackwelder.
The champion in the Mandolin category was Andy Williams, of Mocksville, followed by first runner-up Tom Isenhour, of Harmony, and Terry Bullin, of Mocksville.
In the Guitar category, champion honors went to John Marler, of Mocksville. First runner-up was Jim Lewis, of East Bend. Second runner-up was Howard Honeycutt, of Mocksville.
Danny Bowers, of Mocksville, was champion in the Banjo category, with first runner-up Charles Honeycutt and second runner-up Alex Edwards, of Salisbury.
The champion fiddler was Tori Joines, of Linwood. First runner-up was John Hofmann, of Mocksville, and Rick Lowe, of Harmony, was second runner-up.
The top band was New Country Grass, of Mocksville, let by Andy Williams.
The Gospel Plowboys, of Concord, led by David Murph, were first runner-up.
Second runner-up was Movin’ On Bluegrass, of Concord, led by Howard Honeycutt. Destination Bluegrass, of Mocksville, led by Keith Souther, took third runner-up.
The approximately $6,000 raised at the event will be used to support local charities’ and outreach groups’ projects in the community.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.