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Archive for Sunday, August 26, 2012

Musicians young and old pick through bluegrass tunes

From left, Bob Atchison, Manhattan, and Tricia Spencer and Doug Dubois, both of Lawrence, play an impromptu jam session during the Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships on Sunday in South Park.

From left, Bob Atchison, Manhattan, and Tricia Spencer and Doug Dubois, both of Lawrence, play an impromptu jam session during the Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships on Sunday in South Park.

August 26, 2012

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Groups of musicians sat in circles Sunday afternoon in South Park strumming their instruments or listening to the concert performers during the 32nd annual Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships. Although it is a competition, a large part of the atmosphere of the event is music participation, camaraderie and jam sessions between performances.

“Jamming is like another language,” said Steve Mason, owner of Steve Mason Luthiers and Violin Shop. “You stand in a circle with a bunch of other people who speak that language and just speak it.”

Sixty-five contestants from Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas were entered in the eight categories and youth award for the 32nd annual Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championship.

Miscellaneous Acoustic Instrument

First place — Joe Pickett, Eudora

Second place — Ruth Byers, Lawrence

Ensemble Folk Singing

First place — Maggie Vogt and Abbey Vogt, Erie

Second place — Linnea Kyne and Gabriel Kyne, Kansas City, Mo.

Third place — Walt Babbit and Ardys Ramberg, Baldwin City

Youth Fiddle

First place — Elizabeth Poppe, Riley

Second place — Glen Sigler, Joplin, Mo.

Third place — Emily Koke, Overland Park

Open Fiddle

First place — Michael Thompson, Okla.

Second place — Jason Shaw, Lincoln, Neb.

Banjo

First place — Ken Plummer, Augusta

Second place — Peter Oviatt, Lawrence

Third place — Matt Oliphant, Chanute

Mandolin

First place — Jonah Chilton, Leawood

Second place — Jason Shaw, Lincoln, Neb.

Third place — Rick Faris, Topeka

Finger Style Guitar

First place — Thomas Silkman, Emporia

Second place — Kevin Hiatt, Kansas City, Mo.

Third place — Bruce Huss, Wichita

Flat pick guitar

First place — Jason Shaw, Lincoln, Neb.

Second place — John Shaw, Lincoln, Neb.

Third place — Ken Plummer, Augusta

Youth award

Josh Keegan, Lenexa

Mason was one of many music vendors at the event and has been a part of the championship since it was started. He’s competed, helped to organize the event and is proud to carry on the tradition of bluegrass music.

“You worry about your style of music dying out, but there’s a whole new generation of people coming out,” Mason said.

The Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championship originally started as the Douglas County championship in the hope that each county would have its own competition and the winners would then compete to be the state champion. After five years, it was clear the competitions should be combined to be one large state competition in Lawrence.

“There’s just a really strong, traditional music scene in the area,” championship director Gayle Sigurdson said.

The championship attracts locals as well as musicians from other states including Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri. Many of the contestants are second- or third-generation bluegrass musicians. Instruments range from common fiddles and violins to more unique instruments like the kazoo or nyckelharp. The eight competition categories, as well as a youth award, are open to anyone and allow contestants to compete in their niche. There is even a miscellaneous acoustic instrument category, so musicians can play whatever instrument they want, even if it isn’t traditionally considered a bluegrass instrument.

Sixty-five musicians were entered in the championships, including third-year contestant Tim Daniels, from Leavenworth. Daniels has played the fiddle for 54 years. He attends the event to hear other musicians and enters the competition because he enjoys the receptive audience and performing for a crowd.

“I don’t plan on winning; I just like to find people and play for them,” Daniels said.

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