8th Annual Hoppin' John Fiddlers' Convention – Sept. 18-20

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The Shakori Hills Community Arts Center presents the Hoppin’ John Old-Time & Bluegrass Fiddlers’ Convention, now in its 8th year. Hoppin’ John is a three-day event for musicians, dancers, and music lovers to come together and celebrate the traditions of old-time and bluegrass music. There will be dance, instrument, and band contests for all ages. Hoppin’ John also features square and cajun dances, workshops, musician showcases, a hoppin’ john cook-off, and a special opportunity to see, hear, and learn the secrets and treasures of this Piedmont take on the fiddlers’ convention concept.

The convention helps keep the musical roots of our state alive and provides an opportunity for young people to play on stage and be exposed to some of the musicians who have helped inspire them in their love of traditional music. North Carolina is known for its fiddlers’ conventions, and Hoppin’ John has become one of the new favorites in the state!

The event will kick off on Thursday night this year with a Cajun Dance led by Asheville band, Berlicoco, and will also offer “Rowdy Square Dances” throughout the weekend with The Five Points Rounders. The Rounders, a young, high-energy old-time band came together in Durham to bring their type of music to the next generation by creating the Rowdy Square Dance concept – dusting off the old square dance tunes and speeding them up to suit a younger crowd, without losing any shine for traditional dancers and connoisseurs. Green Grass Cloggers founder, Rodney Sutton calls out the next dance step and keeps all of the dancers together and comfortable, whether it’s their first or 101st square dance.

Keeping true to the Shakori Hills mission of community education, Hoppin’ John offers musician showcases and instrument workshops as well. An Early American and Antebellum Music Showcase ties in a bit of history, covering the development of instruments and tunes that were being played in our region during that time. The Old Jonny Booker Band plays Early American music of the Old South – music popular from 1776 through the Civil War – on period instruments and in the dress of that time. Members include Mark Weems of the NC School of Traditional Music, Little Windows and Stillhouse Bottom Band on banjo, fiddle, guitar and vocals; James Pentecost on banjo, bones and jawbone; and Mike Wesley on guitar and vocals. There will also be a collection of minstrel banjos that may have been used, and a short dance modeled after those of that time period.

Fiddler Erynn Marshall and her partner Carl Jones will be there to show off their singing talents in a singing showcase that also features Cary Fridley. Erynn hasrecorded several CDs, published a book on WV fiddle/song traditions, filmed an instructional DVD, and won numerous awards for her fiddling. She was the first woman and person from outside the US to win first in fiddle at the prestigious “Clifftop” (Appalachian Stringband Festival), and was the director Blue Ridge Music Concert Series in Galax, Virginia. Erynn is a sought after performer and teacher across North America and in Europe. Cary Fridley is an Asheville-based singer, bassist, and innovative educator. Her style is rooted in traditional old-time music and bluegrass, and has evolved to embrace all styles of traditional country, blues, folk, and early jazz. She is a published songwriter, recording artist and successful bandleader, singing and performing in western North Carolina for over 15 years.

While Hoppin’ John has a full weekend of scheduled offerings, festival-goers will tell you that the real treasure is in the campgrounds. Music circles, or “jams” are happening around the clock. These impromptu get-togethers of attending musicians are the reasons many people attend – whether to play or simply listen and marvel at the talents and eclectic combinations of players. Often in these situations, young and inexperienced players get the opportunity to play with experienced musicians, many of notoriety within the traditional music circles, who have inspired them to take up their instrument.

New to the convention this year will be an Appalachian-Style Team Clogging Competition where teams of dancers will compete to perform on Saturday night. The Hoppin’ John Cakewalk and “hootenanny hayride” will be back by popular demandSaturday afternoon with early childhood educator and local musician, Tim Wells. There will also be a kids craft tent to keep the little ones busy while parents shop or participate in the contests. As always, there will be a Hoppin’ John Cook-off.Contests include: band (old-time, bluegrass, and non-traditional), old-time and bluegrass instrument (fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and bass), folk song, and dance. There will also be separate categories for children 15 and under. A total of $3500 in cash prizes will be awarded.

Tickets & Admission

(Gate prices. Discounted weekend tickets available now online):

Weekend Contestant Tickets: $20

Saturday-only Contestant Ticket: $15

Thursday Admission: $6

Friday Admission: $8

Saturday Admission: $12

Camping: $10 per vehicle per night (free on Thursday) – $15 per night for RVs

Day Parking is Free!

Children 15 and under receive Free General and Contestant Admission!

There will be great craft and musical instrument vendors as well as food vendors, including the Shakori Hills Pizza Shack and Vickrey Farms. Folks can bring the family and stay for the weekend!

More info and schedule are available at www.hoppinjohn.org.