Fiddlers throw down for title of champion fiddler of the south
The foot stomping melodies of the old time fiddle, a sound with strong roots from the hills of East Tennessee.
"Draws from elements of Celtic, Irish, English, the old ballad tradition, even the African American traditions, the banjo," says Matt Downer.
Old time music brought people and communities together from all walks of life, proof that music has no race. "Before society was integrated they were having integrated recording sessions, which is really cool to me. It speaks to the power of the music," Downer says.
Downer is a member of the Chattanooga Old Fiddler's Association. "Chattanooga is a river town, a rail townand it was a hot bed for music activity and had been for years, especially in the 20's," he says.
Beginning in the mid 20's the biggest names in string music and the best old time fiddlers around gathered in Chattanooga to throw down for bragging rights and the title, Champion Old Time Fiddler.
"It was considered the championship of the south," Downer says.
Back then 5,000 people filled Memorial Auditorium for the big competition. Inpresent day, the venue is much smaller but love for the art is still prevalent.
"The fact that its remained undiluted for centuries is really something special. The fact that it has such a strong history in Chattanooga is really something to be proud of," Downer says.
Saturday's Great Southern Old Time Fiddler's Convention will be one for the books as competitors from Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia compete for the title of best fiddler around.
"I think its a responsibility to honor it and to carry it on," says Downer.
The showdown begins at Lindsay Street Hall at noon Saturday. Tickets are $10 at the door, children 12-years-old and under are free.