In Honor of Fiddlers' Conventions

Mid-August is always an exciting time in the Twin County, VA area (Grayson, Carroll, Galax). Two fiddlers conventions are held in this area every year in August. First up is the Galax Fiddlers Convention, which is the 2nd full weekend in August. The following week is the Fries Fiddlers Convention. It is sponsored by the Fries Volunteer Fire Department - they are as hard a working group of people as you will ever meet.

To celebrate the fiddlers' conventions, I would like to share a photo I produced decades ago. This is a scan of a photo I made at the Galax Fiddlers' Convention in 1979 or so. 

This thing, this object, has an existence of its own outside of the moment in time which it represents. It's a two-dimensional, monochrome representation of a four-dimensional, polychromatic slice of time and space. That moment, that place, is unique. There never was a moment and place like that before this moment, and there will never will be again. But here is this object which represents that moment and it has taken on a life of its own. I made the exposure and then printed the print 40 years ago - birthed it from the developer as though I were a midwife delivering a baby. The print was a possession of mine. It physically went with me in various moves from house to house.

I didn't know the people in the photo when I made the exposure. It was an interesting moment, so I took the picture. 

Two years ago, I scanned the photo and posted it on Facebook. Someone commented on the photo and asked if I knew the people in the photo. I did not, but someone later commented and identified the subjects. The banjo player is Harold Hausenfluck. The spectators are Gail Gillespie and David Forbes.

Once I digitized the photo (in 2004) and uploaded it to Facebook (in 2015), it took on a different kind of existence. Instead of being in a pile of my old photographs, it is now shared electronically world-wide. Social media has introduced some unpleasantness to our world, but it has capacity for good. This photograph is an example of the good. It reminds us of a time when things were different - a time when music was delivered by 8-track tapes, a time when the subjects (and the photographer) were 40 years younger.

Some things haven't changed. People still flock to the fiddlers' conventions to listen to the music which has resonated through the Blue Ridge for generations. Another generation or two has passed since this photo was made, however. This photograph represents a lesson in how things change and how things remain the same.


eight track tapes landscape.jpg