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Old-time music brings the Laurel community together

By: Lacy Hilliard
Freelance Writer/Photograher

Old-Time music rang out in the ‘hollers’ of Laurel Bloomery once again for the 89th annual Old-Time Fiddlers Convention. The Old Mill Music Park in Laurel Bloomery has been hosting the convention for the past 16 years, ever since it moved from its original home in Mountain City. The property owner, Jackie Warden, has graciously welcomed Old-Time fans from near and far for all these years in part as an effort to continue what was originally her late husbands passion.
Jackie’s late husband, Douglas Warden was an Old-Time aficionado having played bass with the likes of Clint Howard and Doc Watson. He had a true love for the genre and it is this love and the happiness the event brings to all those in attendance that inspires his wife to continue the convention to present day.
The 89th Annual Old-Time Fiddlers Convention began on a bit of a somber note. The loss of Jack Richardson, who has acted as emcee for the event for several years, was felt profoundly. To pay respect to his memory, a short service was held before the convention began and the 89th annual convention was dedicated to his name. “Jack will be dearly missed. He was a big part of the fiddlers convention and his memory will certainly not be forgotten,” said Jackie Warden of her beloved emcee.

The Old Time Fiddlers Convention caters only to the genre for which it was named. To the untrained ear, old-time music is sometimes mistaken for its similar cousin, bluegrass. But to those in the know, the differences are unmistakable. The differing characteristics are often joked about, like in a blog post by Peter Feldmann posted to bluegrasswest.com, where Feldmann jokes that “Old-time guitarists stash extra picks under a rubber band around the top of the peghead. Bluegrass guitarists would never cover any part of the peghead that might obscure the gilded label of their $3,000 guitar.” Though the two genres seem to possess a good natured rivalry, the most accurate definition of the differences between the two is that the old-time genre pays homage only to the roots for which it was borne without the obscurity of modern interpretations. The stories told in old-time tunes are as old as the earliest American settlers and the genre is often hailed as the earliest form of traditional North American music.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.