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Tuning up: Granite Quarry Fiddlers Convention is coming Saturday at East Rowan High

Staff report

GRANITE QUARRY — The Granite Quarry Civitan Club will host the 52nd annual Granite Quarry Fiddlers Convention on Saturday at East Rowan High School.

Competition will be in three band categories: bluegrass, old-time and bluegrass gospel, as well as individual youth and adult instrument competitions.

A presentation at 8:30 p.m. will honor this year’s Granite Quarry Civitan Award winner, Pammy Davis Lassiter.

Each year since 1970, the club has honored individuals such as Lassiter who have made a substantial contribution to the promotion and preservation of traditional old-time and bluegrass music. 

The Civitan Club will serve chopped barbecue plates, hamburgers, hot dogs and desserts throughout the day and evening Saturday. Food will be available at the high school from 11 a.m. until it sells out.

Proceeds benefit Granite Quarry Civitans’ local and regional charities.

Admission to the fiddlers convention is $8. Children under 12 are free with a paid adult. 

In an effort to broaden attendance, the convention is bringing back the old-time division that had been discontinued more than 10 years ago. The bluegrass gospel category is new this year.

The competition will begin with youth individual categories at 4:30 p.m. A jam performance, also added this year, will be at 6 p.m. with all youth performers on stage. Youth winners will be announced at 6:30 p.m., just before adult competition begins.

Because of time constraints, individual adult competition is open to performers not competing in a band. If a musician is competing in a band, he will be judged during the band’s competition. 

Registration will open at 3 p.m. for all categories. All adult entries must be registered by 6 p.m. to be eligible to select a number for performance time in a lottery-style drawing. 

Pammy Davis Lassiter has had a love for bluegrass for 42 years. She has played mandolin, bass and Dobro, and as recently as 2014 won first place on Dobro at Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention.

She still plays with the all-woman Steel Magnolia band, which dates back to 1995. And she and her second husband, Rolo T. “Big T” Lassiter, frequently jam and play on stage at the Maness Music Barn on Tuesday nights, plus The Twisted Grass Entourage often plays local gigs.

Pammy and Big T live in West End in Moore County.

But beyond her performing talents, Lassiter has been among the founding members of several key organizations, including the Charlotte Folk Music Society in 1982, High Lonesome Strings bluegrass association in Greensboro in 1997 and the annual Gathering of Resonateurs in 2006.

Several bluegrass professionals had their start with High Lonesome Strings, including Ashby Frank, Jim VanCleve, Eric Robertson, Bennett Sullivan and the Snyder Family. In addition, many bluegrass bands were formed by members of this Greensboro association.

The Gathering of Resonateurs — ResoGat, for short — is an annual event in Wilkesboro centered on the Dobro for players, builders, instructors, writers and lovers of the instrument.

Of 150 people who attended this year, 100 were Dobro players.

Lassiter is a native of South Carolina who founded the first clogging class at Central Piedmont Community College decades ago.

The Granite Quarry Civitan Club adopted its idea for a fiddlers convention in 1966 as a fundraiser. The late James Mathis, one of the original organizers, brought the fundraising idea to the club after moving to Granite Quarry from Union Grove.

Mathis had been a teacher and principal at Union Grove Elementary School and worked with the Vanhoy family during the organization and production of the World Famous Union Grove Fiddlers Convention. 

The Granite Quarry convention has continued through the years with little change. 

The Civitan Club is host to the only High School Honors Banquet in the state, giving scholarships for academic excellence to students at East Rowan High School.

Club charities include Granite Quarry Elementary School, Erwin Middle School, East Rowan High School, Granite Civic Park, Little League Baseball, Victory Junction Gang Camp, senior citizens, Special Olympics, children and adults with special needs, Boys and Girls Home of NC, Civitan Research Centers at Duke University and Birmingham, Alabama, and the town of Granite Quarry.

Martha Miller is club president. The Fiddlers Convention chairman is Norman Ribelin.

The event is held on the second Saturday in October each year. 

Vivian Hopkins provided the information for this article.

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