Fiddlers contest

It’s easy to win the Band Scramble when you have a hot banjo picker in your band! From left to right are fiddlers Joe Hunsinger (Valencia) and Gayel Pitchford (Tehachapi), Banjo Picker Glen Lasley (Boron), and Guitarist Ron Blair (Tehachapi).

Tehachapi will ring with the sound of fiddles, guitars, banjos, mandolins and other instruments Sept. 21 and 22 as District 3 of the California State Old Time Fiddlers Association holds its 40-second annual Fiddlin’ Down the Tracks Old Time Fiddle Contest at Country Oaks Baptist Church, 20915 Schout Road in Tehachapi.

This year’s contest is being held in honor of legendary Nashville session fiddler Buddy Spicher, who has played on more recordings than any other fiddler. Registration for contestants will open at 1 p.m. on Friday and playing will start at 3 p.m. with the Senior (ages 50-69) and Senior-Senior (ages 70+) Fiddle Divisions, followed by the Adult Band Scramble. In the evening there will be dancing for everyone, as Wayne Thompson calls a contra dance, complete with old time fiddle band.

On Saturday, registration re-opens at 8 a.m. and playing starts at 9:10 a.m. with the Junior Fiddle Division (ages 13–18) playing first. They will be followed by the Junior-Juniors (ages 9–12), PeeWees (8 years and under), and Cello-Bass Fiddle Division (ages through 18.)

Other divisions will include Junior Band Scramble, Junior and Open Picking Divisions (guitar, banjo and mandolin), Junior and Open Novelty Divisions (anything NOT a fiddle or picking instrument), and Twin Fiddles.

Following all these divisions, there will be a Grand Championship playoff among the first place winners of the fiddle divisions. CSOTFA rules will be followed, as this is a Certified contest, which means that the Grand Championship winner will be certified to the National Old Time Fiddle Contest in Weiser, Idaho, and District 3 will pay that fiddler’s registration for the Nationals.

Awards will consist of cash prizes for all winners, plus a trophy for the first place finisher in each division and medals for the other top four winners in each division, and a Grand Championship trophy for the winner of the playoff.

Judges for this year’s contest are Nicki Carlisle from District 6 in Redding, Willie Randel from District 7 in San Diego, and Jan Burnett from District 3 in Bakersfield. The Master of Ceremonies is the inimitable Betty Gubler.

There is no charge for admission to the contest, but contestants pay a small fee for each division they enter. Anyone who can fiddle or pick should come and try their luck in the contest. The public is cordially invited to attend.

Tehachapi has become a hotbed of fiddling and there will be a lot of good music played. Last year’s contest had more than 100 contestants, who came from all over California and even from out of state, so join us and cheer for your favorite fiddlers!

For more information, call 821-7511.

Gayel Pitchford is District 3’s state director.