Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 2012 Contest Results!

This year's contest was slightly larger than last year with a total of 76 contestants.  It was amazing to sit back and listen to all the great music, and to hear how everyone has improved since last year!

We started everything off with the Junior Flattop Guitar Contest.  There were so many contestants in this division that we actually ended up splitting the division into two divisions.  It was originally 16 & Under, but we went ahead and judged 10 & Under in its own division.  Here are the results:

Flattop Guitar - 10 & Under
1st - Claire Rausch
2nd - Emily Causey
3rd - Isabelle Hobbs
4th - Katie Haubrick (Most Entertaining)
5th - Noah Lintker
Youngest - Isabella Worthington

Flattop Guitar - 16 & Under
1st - Rosemary Hall (3rd year in a row!)
2nd - Sam Currey
3rd - Matthew Worthington
4th - Colin Gray
5th - Amber Bleem

After the Youth Guitar divisions, we had the Open Guitar division.  This was for ages 17 & Up.  Ages of contestants in this division ranged from 17 to 74 years of age, and since the oldest and the youngest both placed, this just goes to prove my theory that you are never too old or too young to play music!

Flattop Guitar - Open Division
1st - Zane Prosser (Oldest Contestant)
2nd - Emily Hall (Most Entertaining)
3rd - Chelsea Bergmann
4th - Mike Wall
5th - Dan Fraser

One of the unique things about our October contest is that we have an Adult Beginner Division for both the fiddle and the banjo.  This division is specifically for anyone that is 21 years of age or older, and has played for four years or less.  It's a great way for adults to ease into playing in front of other people.  The purpose is to get everyone used to playing in front of others as soon as possible, but also allow them to do it without having to follow a veteran player.  The banjo players only play one song in this division, but the fiddle players still have to do a waltz and a hoedown.  I think this year's Adult Competitions were some of the best we've ever had. 

Adult Beginner Fiddle
1st - Denise Voegele
2nd - Trice Pisetta
3rd - Kevin Martin (Most Entertaining)
4th - Zach Bergmann
5th - Lena McDonnell

Adult Beginner Banjo
1st - Dennis Huebner
2nd - Steve Dibbert (Most Entertaining)

Next stop is the Junior Fiddle divisions.  We had a total of 23 contestants in two divisions!  This division was very entertaining because there were so many great performances by the cutest fiddlers I've ever seen. I could write a paragraph about each one! It is a testament to the parents that they help their kids make time for this, and then support them in it.  I would like to make special mention of our 3rd place winner, Lillie.  Lillie is not a Bluegrass Shack student, and she played all by herself because she is new to bluegrass and had not played with a guitar player before.  She did an amazing job and has such a great tone quality.

Junior II Fiddle (12 & Under)
1st - Audrey Neel (Most Entertaining)
2nd - Nathanael Worthington
3rd - Lillie Roever
4th - Maggie Currey
5th - Nolan Neumeyer
Youngest - Isabella Worthington

Junior I Fiddle (13 - 17 Years Old)
1st - Rosemary Hall
2nd - Emily Hall
3rd - Emily Morgan (Most Entertaining)
4th - Caroline Stewart
5th - Lucas Worthington

The Open and Senior divisions of the fiddle competition were fierce!  Though it was all in fun, these contestants were really out to beat each other!  They were even trying to guess who was the oldest at the awards ceremony (and they were wrong).  This was certainly a lot of fun.

Open Fiddle
1st - Chelsea Bergmann
2nd - Dennis Huebner
3rd - Katarina Worthington (1st contest)
4th - Tim Dever
5th - Susan Crider (Most Entertaining)

Senior Fiddle
1st - Ron Dailey
2nd - Zane Prosser
3rd - Pat Sorrell (Oldest Fiddle Player)
4th - Bill Weiss

Now, last but certainly not least, let's get on with the banjo competitions.  We had eight contestants in the Junior Banjo division, which makes it one of the largest we've had.  We certainly heard some fast picking!

Junior Banjo (16 & Under)
1st - Lucas Worthington
2nd - Luke Currey (Most Entertaining)
3rd - Jake Morgan
4th - Christi Gray
5th - Joshua Dolan
Youngest - Joy Ann Worthington

Open / Senior Banjo
1st Place Senior - Larry Maxwell (Oldest Banjo Player)
1st Place Open - Emily Hall
2nd Place - Chelsea Bergmann (Most Entertaining)
3rd Place - Kevin Martin
4th Place - Larry Reuss

A big thank you goes out to Dual Generation for making the food and taking care of everything that had to do with the food, including the setup, selling and cleanup.  It was great.  I had chili and chocolate chip cookies, so I know!  G'Pops brought kettle corn as well, and I simply couldn't leave without buying a big bag for myself!  With the holiday season approaching, if you are wondering what to get the person who has everything, you need to consider contacting G'Pops for a large holiday bag!  I don't believe they do mail order, but if you are local, it's a great option.  You can reach them at their website at

Thank you to our judges, Iggie Tiemann and John Bell.  They sat behind a curtain and judged for five hours!  They are both great players, experienced judges, and simply wonderful people.  My mom (Carla) took care of registration and scores, and Dennis and Steve helped at the door.  Earl took pictures of every single contestant for us, which you can find on our Facebook page.  We had lots of help setting up and tearing down, which is especially nice when there is so much to do.  The audience was terrific -- very attentive and appreciative!  This was a fun day and a huge success.  Can't wait for the next one!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Kid's Instructional Jam Group

This year, I started a youth instructional jam group.  Previously, I had always encouraged kids to join us in the Monday night instructional jams, but they never kept coming.  I decided this summer to give them their own jam group.  It has worked out really well!  We had about 12 kids coming regularly in the summer, and now that school is in sessions, more than half have decided to stay with the group.

This group meets every other week, and practices to perform at local venues such as nursing homes, churches and other events as requested.  I am not personally involved in many of these outings.  I leave it up to the parents to decide if they want to pursue most of the requests, which they have.  Since July, they have played at the New Athens Home for the Aged, several different school functions in Waterloo and here in New Athens, churches, and bluegrass festivals, including the Ripson Bridge Festival.  The group plays entirely for fun and does not make any money from any of their outings.  The idea is that they should enjoy playing music and should enjoy sharing their music.  They are free to come and go.  Each student learns how to play the bass, and many play more than one instrument.  They all practice different lead and harmony parts, and if one person can't make a gig, another one fills in the gap.

From a musical standpoint, they are learning how to create setlists, tell jokes, share the microphones, sing lead and harmony, play backup and take breaks, prepare for a gig, interact with folks at the gigs, set up equipment, and more!  One of the most heartfelt moments for me was watching them talk to all of the residents at the New Athens Home for the Aged after they had finished their set.  Every one of them spent time holding hands, hugging, and talking to the folks they had just played for.  The joy that the music alone brought to these people was wonderful, but this was the icing on the cake in my opinion!

To have a talent is a wonderful thing, but to share that talent is a blessing to both the musician and the listener!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Annual Bluegrass Shack Fiddle, Banjo & Flattop Guitar Contest!

Now's the time to start preparing for our Annual October Fiddle, Banjo & Flattop Guitar Contest!  If you don't pick, you can come out to cheer everyone on.  We could all use a good listener or cheerleader!

This contest is always the last Saturday in October, which makes this one October 27, 2012.  Registration opens at 11:00 a.m., and the first contest starts at Noon.  We have put approximate start times on all of the different contests since there are so many (look at the flyer for start times).  You do not have to be registered for the division you are playing in until that division actually starts.  For instance, if your division starts at 2:00 p.m., you have to be registered by 2:00 p.m.  We will hand out awards after every one or two divisions play.  This will allow folks that can't or don't want to stay for the entire afternoon to come and go as they please.

This contest has lots of divisions in each competition, which makes it great for players of all levels and ages.  If you've never entered a contest before, make this your first one!  If you don't have your own guitar player and you would like one, we have several available and you can even warm-up with one beforehand. 

The contest will be held at the New Athens Community Hall, which is located at 406 Chester Street in New Athens, IL.  The contest will be held upstairs in the main hall area, but there is room downstairs for warmup and jamming.  Judging is blind panel (judges do not see the contestants).

I am posting a copy of the flyer below.  Click on it to make it larger.  Here is a link to a .pdf version if you still can't read it or if you would like to print it:  If you have more questions, please call or e-mail The Bluegrass Shack.  We hope to see you there!