Thursday, June 5, 2014

106th Annual DeKalb County Fiddlers’ Convention by John Dersham

You don’t want to miss a fantastic day of classic ole time Fiddle music. The event is the 106th Anniversary of the DeKalb County Fiddlers’ Convention held tomorrow at the Rotary Pavilion in historic downtown Fort Payne at 202 5th Street N.E. For only $10.00 (children under 10 are free) you get an entire day of the best ole time Bluegrass Fiddle, Dobro, Mandolin, Guitar and Upright Bass music you will ever hear.  The artists will be competing for 1st and 2nd place in each category. Over $4,500 in cash prizes and trophies will be awarded with proceeds to support the Big Wills Arts Council and the Forty Payne City Schools Arts in Education program for 2014-2015.
The event begins with an onsite registration for artists at 11:00 A.M.,  the music will begin  at 12 noon with the Dobro competition followed by P.W. Fiddler, Mandolin, O.T. Banjo, Jr. Fiddler, Guitar and at 4:30 P.M the incredible Leroy Troy takes to the stage. Leroy can be seen on RFD TV on the Marty Stuart Show . The competition begins again at  6:00 P.M.  with the Upright Bass then B.G. Banjo followed by  Sr. Fiddler, B.G. Band and the O.T. Band will end the completion starting at 9:45 P.M. Needless to say this is a major event and you will not be disappointed.
This year at the Fiddlers’ Convention Mr. Marvin Downer will be awarded the Roland Walls Lifetime Achievement Award
Here is some information from event planner Russell l Gulley about the award.
Fort Payne: Roland Walls was more than the morning man at WZOB radio, he belonged to all of DeKalb County, had a heart of gold and a wonderful humor and wit. Roland served The DeKalb County Fiddlers Convention as host and M.C. since its revival in the 1990’s by the Big Wills Arts Council (BWAC) and continued to do so until his untimely death in 2011. He was a man that truly loved traditional music whether it is Southern Gospel or Ole’ Time Music and Bluegrass. He supported all of the BWAC efforts to preserve, present, and encourage an on-going participation in local heritage and traditions. It was in his memory that in 2011 the Big Wills Arts Council initiated The Roland Walls Lifetime Achievement Award with the first presentation to master fiddler, Mr. William E. “Gene” Ivey.
 The organizers of the DeKalb County Fiddlers Convention are proud to announce the recipient of this year’s award to be presented at the 106th Anniversary gathering set for June 7th, 2014. The recipient is Mr. Marvin Downer, lifelong resident of DeKalb County and master Bluegrass Musician known for his chart topping recordings with the Sand Mountain Playboys, and for leading his own group, Marvin Downer and the Bluegrass Four for over four decades. A multi-instrumentalist, Downer is best known for his first love, the mandolin, and has served as the inspiration and mentor to some of the area’s most successful musicians.

 Downer, who started performing in the 1950’s, entertained the troops while stationed in Korea with the 301st Signal Battalion and continues to perform today with some of the best musicians to come out of North East Alabama. “I wouldn’t be playing today if it weren’t for Marvin Downer” states master fiddler James Bryan, who studied at the age of 16 with Downer.
If you have not been to a concert at the new Rotary Pavilion you will love that too. The sound is good and the location is scenic in itself nestled at the foot of Lookout Mountain with the Alabama Walking trail next to it along with Fort Payne Depot Museum and Fort Payne City Park and the historic 1889 historic Opera block all in the same area.
I like to pass on a special thanks to Russell Gulley and the Bills Wills Arts Council for planning and hosting this great event each year. A lot of work all year long is put into making this annual event the very best in can be.

John Dersham