Sunday, March 18, 2012

Friday Night's Youth Contests

Another great youth event has come and gone!  This year's 16 and under Banjo, Fiddle & Talent Contest was the best yet!  Each year, I see more youth involved and the level of talent keeps getting better and better.  We had a total of 28 entries this year.

One of my judges cancelled the day before the event right as I was heading out to Columbia VA Hospital for an emergency involving my Dad.  Special thanks goes out to Steve Hall for taking the time to find another judge for me when I was unable to do it for myself.  Frank Flowers filled in at the last minute, and he and Steve did a great job judging!  Zane Prosser joined the other two judges for the Talent portion of the contest.  Bill and Cyndi Weiss were my judges for the Most Entertaining.  Carla Steinkoetter took care of the scoresheets and also helped with the awards ceremony.  Walter & Willa Volz were the emcees for the evening, and were awesome -- as usual!  Steven Kline did a great job with sound, which is always a difficult job.  I'm thinking Steven's dog, Walter, tried to steal the show, though.  You just needed to be there!

There were so many good players at the contest!  I've watched Heather Stortz for the past 4-5 years, and her playing has matured so much.  She also writes many of her own songs (vocals) and plays just about any instrument.  The youngest contestant in the fiddle contest was barely 7-year old Dakota McDonnell.  He was absolutely adorable, and his Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star was almost flawless!  First place winner Roger Netherton is self-taught.  Quite an honor for winning this contest against some very tough competition!  Here are the results of the fiddle contest:

1st - Roger Netherton
2nd - Amelia Eisenhauer
3rd - Heather Stortz
4th - Lindsay Martin
5th - Emily Worthington
Youngest - Dakota McDonnell
Most Entertaining - Audrey Neel

Here is a video of Roger's performance:

The banjo contest was a short affair, but it was enjoyable never-the-less!  First place winner Lucas Worthington debuted two new songs for the contest and played both wonderfully.  Chelsea Perkinson's student, Lindsay Martin, placed in BOTH banjo and fiddle, and she was also the Youngest in the banjo competition.  You'd better keep your eye on her!  Here are the results for the banjo contest:

1st - Lucas Worthington
2nd - Christi Gray
3rd - Andy Eisenhauer
4th - Lindsay Martin
Youngest - Lindsay Martin
Most Entertaining - Christi Gray

Here is a video of Lucas playing Dixie Breakdown, one of his winning selections:

The Talent Contest is my favorite part of the evening.  It is really wonderful to see so many fantastic up-and-coming musicians.  Drew Thurmond absolutely tore it up on the guitar!  You'd have a hard time finding someone better at flatpicking at ANY age!  It's always great to hear Wyatt Harman with his strong, clear voice -- and good to see Dad up there with him.  I'm curious as to when he'll start his own band...  Seven-year old Audrey Neel played her fiddle and sang "Tennessee Waltz."  You really have to see her play!  Her performance was noted by a promoter in the audience Friday night and she has been asked to perform with Rhonda Vincent later this year.  I will keep you posted on this and whether she and her family accept the invitation.  I could say something positive about every single contestant, but you really need to come to this event and see it for yourself.  Here are the results of the Talent Contest:

1st (TIE) - Paige Rumelhart & The Worthing10's Quartet
3rd - Drew Thurmond

I don't have a video of Paige's winning performance, but if I am able to get one, I'll revise and post it here. 

Though we only award the top three places for the Talent Contest, I thought it would be nice to note that the next two places actually belong to The Worthing10's Family Band and Audrey Neel.

I want to thank MABC (dba Bluegrass America) for sponsoring this contest every year to promote the youth and also to promote bluegrass music.  A big thanks goes out to all the contestants and the audience.  I can't remember when we've had such a responsive and appreciative audience.  My hat is off to all of you!

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