Creating a love letter to true Americana roots and the uplifting power of music is a powerful way to respect both patriotism and free artistic expression. That celebration is highlighted in the new documentary, ‘Fiddlin,’ which brings viewers inside the Old Fiddlers’ Convention, which is held in Galax, Virginia. In honor of the movie’s release on iTunes and VOD earlier this month, ShockYa is premiering an exclusive clip, which is titled ‘Talented Kid.’
Julie Simone directed the award-winning Bluegrass feature, which she also co-wrote and produced with her sister, Vicki Vlasic. While making the documentary, the filmmakers returned home to the Appalachian Mountains to shoot the world’s oldest fiddler’s convention. Since 1935, the Old Fidder’s Convention has attracted adults and children of all ages from across the world to compete in old-time fiddle-playing, Dobro, banjo, guitar, autoharp, folk song and dance categories.
Local musicians are featured throughout ‘Fiddlin,’ including Jack Krack, who’s considered to be one of the best fiddle players in the world; Wayne Henderson, a world-renowned luthier and guitar player known as the “Guitar God” with a 7-year backlog of orders for his guitars; Dori Freeman, a singer-songwriter who has been singled out by Rolling Stone and The New York Times as a talent to watch; Presley Barker, a humble 11-year-old guitar-playing prodigy and rising star; and Martha Spencer, who’s part of a multi-generational musical family that’s famous throughout the region. Simone and Vlasic were given permission to be the first filmmakers to record interviews and footage at the convention, after Moose Lodge members discovered the sisters were locals who recalled the convention from their youth.
Of the convention and music that’s featured at the Old Fidder’s Convention, Simone said: “Old-Time and Bluegrass music was born in these mountains and has been passed down for generations with most musicians learning and playing by ear. This music essentially gave birth to country music, and subsequently rock and roll. The global impact of this area and its history was much more powerful and compelling than we had ever imagined when starting our journey with ‘Fiddlin.'”
Vlasic added: “Creating ‘Fiddlin’ with my sister and re-connecting to our roots has been an extraordinary experience and special journey for both of us. We are honored that the inspirational characters you will get to know in this movie trusted us with their stories. It was important to me as we made this film to shine a light on the beauty of the area and the talent, intelligence and persistence of the people there. Many have been left jobless with the exodus of manufacturing but have turned to their music to create new opportunities. These ever resilient people remain positive and dedicate themselves to keeping the heritage of Old Time and Bluegrass music alive by mentoring the next generation of players.”