Public invited to old-time music at Jefferson College
Published 12:06 am Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Toes are sure to be tapping Saturday under the grand oak trees at Historic Jefferson College when musicians from the region gather for the annual Big Yam Potatoes Fiddle Contest and Ole-time Music Gathering.
The seventh annual gathering, hosted by the Mississippi Fiddlers’ Association and Historic Jefferson College, is a chance to celebrate a variety of fiddle and string band music that was once heard at dances and on front porches throughout Mississippi, HJC Director Robin Person said.
“It’s an old-time music festival, and when we say old-time we’re referring to a style of music that’s similar to blue grass, but really it was the precursor to that genre and style of music,” Person said. “You’ll be hearing and seeing a lot of banjos, stand-up basses, guitars, fiddles and different instruments that are used to play that type of music.”
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A day full of free, live acoustic music begins at 9 a.m. on the outdoor stage featuring a variety of traditional musicians from across the region.
Featured acts include old-time swing band, The Canegrinders; gourd banjo player, Jason Smith; clawhammer banjo player and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Rawls; early Americana duo Hal and Connie Jeannes; finger-picking blues guitarist Reeves Jones; old-time/Cajun band, Mississippi Cajun; cellist and multi-instrumentalist Charlie Patton and more.
Person said the event is one she looks forward to each year, as the music allows her to easily travel back in time.
“The historical aspect of the music lends itself well to our setting, or maybe it’s the other way around,” Person said, laughing. “I think the fiddles are kind of haunting when you hear them here, but in a good way.”
The old-time fiddle contest gets under way in the main building at 10 a.m. with musicians 17 and under playing first.
Fiddlers 18 years and older will perform after lunch.
Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three fiddlers in each division. The contest entry fee is $5.
Those interested in registering can visit bigyampotatoes.com for more rules and regulations.
“This is a great chance to experience old-time music performed live,” said Robert Gray, a member of the Mississippi Fiddlers’ Association, organizers of the gathering. “If you play an acoustic instrument, bring it along and sit in on an old-time jam session. Whether you’re an old pro or still have the price tag on your case, you’ll be welcome.”
Gray described the old-time genre as a type of music that was popular on front porches, barn dances and anywhere else where community gatherings were occurring.
“Before TV, there was radio and before radio there was old-time music gatherings,” Gray said. “These were times when the community would gather together, likely after work or on the weekends, and just get together with their instruments and start playing.
“That would lead to people dancing and having a good time, and that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing this weekend.”
Arthur Davis of The Old Country Store in Lorman, whose country cooking was featured in Southern Living and on the Food Network, will return this year as a food vendor. Davis will be cooking up his delicious fried chicken plates for sale at lunchtime.
Primitive camping is available Friday and Saturday night on the grounds of Historic Jefferson College. Fire pits, picnic areas and a parking area are available at the college.
The college is located in Washington, four miles north of Natchez. Jefferson College was the first institution of higher learning in the Mississippi Territory.