Uncle Dave Macon Days , established in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, celebrated 35 years as one of the premier old time music competitions in the country over July 13-15th at Cannonsburgh Pioneer Village just a few blocks from the original town square where the festival started.
Three Nationals Championships are held during the event including Old Time Banjo, Old Time Clogging and Old Time Buck Dancing. Competitions including old time style from Fiddle to Guitar to Banjo are held over the first two days.
This year, Mike Snider who grew up in Gleason, Tennessee, was the Heritage Award Winner.
“I am thankful to be chosen for an award that has to do with good ole string band music. I feel like I’m in the business for the same reason as Uncle Dave; for the joy of playing the tunes and sharing a laugh or two with the common everyday folks. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in July.” - Mike Snider
Mike was a regular on Hee-Haw after winning a National Competition for Bluegrass Banjo, followed by work at the original Opryland Theme Park before being inducted into The Grand Ole Opry in 1990.
Mike and his band are regulars on the Grand Ole Opry, where host, Eddie Stubbs of WSM 650, has said that his group is “best string band in the nation.”
Famed Banjo player, J. D. Crowe took the Trailblazer Award. J.D. has been a part of Bluegrass and traditional music when as a young teen in 1956, he joined Jimmie Martin and The Sunny Mountain Boys followed by the formation of The Kentucky Mountain Boys. J.D.’s most groundbreaking group came in the early 70’s with his band J. D. Crowe and The New South, who were at the time considered a bridge to the future with past traditionalists. The players that came out of that group such as Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas and Ricky Skaggs went on as icons. The 70’s were a time when some of the best players, such as Sam Bush set the tone that would become a permanent growing worldwide movement that is bluegrass today.
The Macon- Doubler Fellowship that was established by the late Alvin Doubler and his wife Mary Macon Doubler, Granddaughter of Uncle Dave Macon were awarded to Sandra Gilliam of Manchester, Tennessee and Colton Wrisner, who is a ninth grader at Warren County High School.
Cannonsburgh Pioneer Village has over 20 structures representing life n the 1800’s in middle Tennessee. There was plenty to do besides listening to music by the main stage, wandering through local artisan booths to finding some food across the creek, which was pretty much State Fair Cuisine.
There were hand dipped corn dogs and smoked Turkey legs amongst the Gyro and Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches.
People were encouraged to bring stringed instruments and join a jam in the area where grub and historic structures were situated. It gave the feel of attending a county fair in the 1800’s.
The Bluegrass Bus, with the historic logos of WSM Radio, The Grand Ole Opry, Lester Flatt and Earl Skruggs as well as Martha White Flour, looked the part of Flatt & Skruggs tour bus, while inside there were press photos, autographs and collectibles from the last 70 years of Bluegrass and Country Music History.
One of the people hanging out in the park playing some old time Banjo and Fiddle was none other than Gerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, whom I had met at the Folk Alliance in Memphis back in 2010. He was hanging out with Hubby Jenkins and Dom Flemons of The Carolina Chocolate Drops back in Memphis and holding his own. Gerron is a multi-instrumentalist, who is equally adept at Old Time Banjo, Fiddle as well as Piano when he can find one. Gerron specializes in late 1800’s-earlly 1900’s music.
I asked Gerron if he had put out an album yet. Gerron said that he had released a 78 over in England, although for now he calls Brooklyn, New York home after being raised in Los Angeles, California. A lot of people had been inquiring about recordings and “Blind Boy” spoke about maybe opening up and E-Bay Store when he gets back home.
The Well Gospel Band took the stage Sunday Afternoon, for some old time gospel playing a bluegrass version of “Count Your Blessings. “ While the weather was a little difficult with some rain on Saturday, Sunday the sun was out and there was no charge to enter the grounds for one last round to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.
– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN firstname.lastname@example.org