Talent abounded at the annual Yadkin Valley Bluegrass Convention held at Yadkinville Elementary on Saturday. Musicians of all ages competed in a variety of categories, but most importantly enjoyed the camaraderie and celebration of this classic American musical style.
“We just came down here to jam and pick and see some folks we don’t get to see that much and have a good time,” said Adam Burrows of Asheboro. Burrows has been playing music for around 10 years and performs professionally all across the country. When he realized he had the day off he called up two friends, Jerry Steinberg and Daniel Pugh, and invited them to come hang out and enjoy the fun and fellowship at the convention.
Event coordinator Hoke Matthews said from the youngest competitor on up, the stage was packed with talent.
“We’ve have had constant music on the stage since one o’clock and it’s just been a wonderful convention,” Matthews said.
Robert Steelman, founder of the Yadkin Valley Bluegrass Convention, said he was pleased at the festival’s longevity and hoped to see it continue. This marked the 32nd annual event.
“Everything’s going great and we hope to keep it going year after year,” Steelman said.
The stage at Yadkinville Elementary was full all day with performers young and old competing in the vocal category as well as guitar, dulcimer, banjo and more.
Music could be heard throughout the school as musicians found classroom space, hallways and stairwells where they could warm up and rehearse for their turn on stage, or just jam with friends.
Richard and Barbara Bowman competed in multiple categories including autoharp, fiddle, bass and the band competition. Hailing from Mount Airy, the couple has been competing at the Yadkin Valley Bluegrass Convention for six or seven years. They also travel to other area conventions to play Old-Time music.
Though the style of music is considered old, young people are taking an avid interest in the Bluegrass art form. Sarah Griffin and Kathleen Burnett, both age 20, from Boone, have attended and performed at the convention several times. Griffin said they loved “listening to all the great music and hearing all the wonderful musicians.”
“You can learn something from everybody,” Burnett added.
In the Junior Bluegrass Fiddle category, Liam Purcell took first place followed by Madison Elmore in second and Sydney Loflin in third. In Junior Old-Time Fiddle Eliza Meyer claimed first with Sophia Burnett and Lake Carver coming in second and third. Eliza Meyer also claimed first place in Junior Old-Time Banjo. Travis Watts took first in Junior Bluegrass Banjo. Jonah Horton placed first in Junior Mandolin followed by Elijah Moore in second and Owen Combs in third. In the Junior Guitar category Liam Purcell took first place followed by Jonah Horton in second and Gabe Bemus in third. Owen Combs took first in Junior Acoustic Bass and Lincoln Moore came in second. Liam Purcell also claimed first place in the Junior Vocal category followed by Anneli Burnett and Grace Bemus is second and third. Anneli Burnett took first in Junior Dance followed by Lincoln Moore. Competitors in the Junior categories were ages 15 and younger.
The Senior categories featured performers 16 and older. John Hofmann took first in Senior Bluegrass Fiddle followed by Carley Arrowood in second and Crystal Shipley in third. First place in Old-Time Fiddle went to Kathleen Burnett followed by Andy Edwards in second and third place to John Hofmann. Ted Nixon claimed first in Senior Bluegrass Banjo with Alex Edwards in second and third to Charlie Apple. Marsha Todd took first in Old-Time Banjo and second went to Andy Edmonds. Connor Lambert claimed first place in Senior Mandolin followed by Todd Hiatt in second and Daniel Thrailkill in third place. Senior Guitar first place went to Steve Kilby with Daniel Thrailkill in second and Glenn Craver in third. Barbara Bowman won first place in Acoustic Bass with Lynn Powell in second and Tommy Nichols in third. Glenn Craver won first place in Senior Dobro with John Powell in second and Jimmy Ball in third. Steve Kilby also claimed first place in Senior Dulcimer with Eva Casstevens coming in second. Richard Bowman won first place in Senior Autoharp with Lois Shumaker in second. Glenn Craver won first place in Senior Vocal with Carley Arrowood in second and Tommy Nichols in third. Becky Boyd won first place in Senior Dance with Barbara Bowman coming in second.
The band competition wrapped up the event. Coming in first place in the Bluegrass category was The Trailblazers. Bluegrass Tradition claimed second place, Harrison Ridge third, Coyote Ugly Band in fourth place and Triad Revival in fifth. Slate Mountain Ramblers claimed the top prize in the Old-Time category followed by The Buckstankle Boys in second place.
See videos of musicians at the Yadkin Valley Bluegrass Convention on www.yadkinripple.com.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.