Since 1935, the southern Virginia city of Galax has hosted the world’s oldest Fiddler’s Convention, which just completed its 84th year. Adults and young people from around the globe come to the convention to compete not only in old-time fiddle-playing, but in other instruments and disciplines, including Dobro, banjo, guitar, autoharp, as well as in folk song and dance categories.
In September, a documentary about the annual event, titled Fiddlin’, will tour theaters before becoming available in October via video-on-demand. Directed by Julie Simone, the film has already earned numerous honors on the festival circuit, capturing the sights and sounds of the annual Old Fiddler’s Convention and the mountain music that continues to inspire generations of amateur and professional performers.
“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,” says Simone. “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’.” The film marks Simone’s return to her Appalachian roots with her sister, Vicki Vlasic, with whom she wrote the documentary, along with Janice Hampton.
Local musicians including Dori Freeman, Martha Spencer, Presley Barker, Wayne Henderson and others are featured throughout the film.