Old Time Tennessee Valley Fiddlers Convention Wrap-up

Well, the 53rd Annual Old Time Tennessee Valley Fiddlers Convention is over. This year it was a three day event so that means I got an extra funnel cake in.

In the dulcimer competition we had three locos, I mean locals, place. The order was:

  • 1st place Rob Pearcy
  • 2nd place Jan Hammond
  • 3rd place Bobby Knobbly
  • 4th place Lou Beasley
  • 5th place Roger Patterson

The concert line up for next year is out. The 54th Annual Old Time Tennessee Valley Fiddlers Convention, October 1-3, 2020, features:

  • Thursday, January 23, 2020 Geez Louise
  • Thursday, March 5, 2020 Sierra Hull & Justin Moses
  • Thursday, July 7, 2020 Jake Workman, Rebekah Workman and Jeff Picker
  • Thursday, September 24, 2020 Kenny & Amanda Smith
  • Tuesday, September 29, 2020 Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers
  • Thursday, 1 October, 2020, 7 pm Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
  • Friday, 2 October, 2020 4 pm Jimmy Fortune
  • Friday, 2 October, 2020 6 pm Dailey & Vincent
  • Saturday 3 October, 2020 ??

Here’s a few photos Karen and I took (I think a couple of Donny Todd’s may have gotten in the mix. Sorry Donny, but thanks!!!)

David B <><
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Athens State 2020 Concert Series

See what’s coming in 2020. They will also be selling season tickets in addition to individual tickets.

Athens State 2020 Concert Series

David B <><

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Good use for cardboard and an alternative to installing a 1 1/2 fret

Nothing to fret about

For those who don’t want to install a 1 1/2 fret on their dulcimer Duane Porterfield recommends this alternative:

“Play with a capo on the fourth fret for a while. The 6th fret becomes your 1+”


Grant Olson, the 2019 National Mountain Dulcimer Championship 1st place winner at Winfield, Kansas, won playing a cardboard dulcimer that he built from a kit for $8.

David B <><


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Paul Blackburn Shares His Memories Of Dulcimers

Jerry & Louise Todd regularly visit Paul and his wife and have taken the opportunity to write down some of the memories he has shared with them.

Paul Blackburn, Luthier

by Louise Todd

Paul Miller Blackburn currently resides in Hazel Green, Alabama but he was born to Bertie and Beulah on December 5th, 1939 in Duplin Co, North Carolina. Paul was the seventh child of eight, three girls and five boys.  He attended Warsaw Elementary school and graduated in 1958 from James Kenan High School. Growing up on a tobacco farm, (Paul’s youngest brother still lives on this farm today) as well as raising many vegetables, there was always plenty of chores to keep him busy.  That area of NC is known for the many vegetables it produces, such as, cucumbers, peppers, beans, peas, watermelons and others.  There are many canneries and if you have ever bought a jar of Mt. Olive pickles, that is probably the area it came from!

Paul received his “Army greetings” from Uncle Sam a couple of years after graduation and reported to Ft. Jackson, SC.  Paul traveled to many places and had many “adventures” over the next 27 years.  In his dining room there is a large shadow box of his medals and the places he was stationed.  They include, beginning in 1961 Ft. Jackson, SC, Redstone Arsenal, AL,  Federal Republic of Germany, Ft. Bragg, NC, Corpus Christi, TX, Republic of Vietnam, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Federal Republic of Germany, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, Republic of Korea, Lakehurst Naval Air Station, NJ, Republic of Korea, Redstone Arsenal, AL, Republic of Korea, Ft. Bliss, TX and Lowry Air Force Base, CO until his retirement in 1987 as Sergeant Major.

After Paul retired from the Army, he returned to North Alabama, earned his BS degree from Athens State and was employed at Redstone Arsenal in the field of Logistics/electronic maintenance with the same army outfit he had served with.    

While growing up, music was a part of the curriculum where Paul attended school.  Also, as he traveled on the bus through Asheville, NC, Knoxville and Chattanooga, TN Paul remembered seeing a mountain dulcimer at one of the stops.  Later, while stationed in Denver, he saw a kit advertised in a magazine. He had always enjoyed working with wood, so he purchased the kit and built the dulcimer.  On some of the bases he was stationed, he had access to their wood-working facilities.  He decided he could build dulcimers on his own.  After retiring from the Arsenal in 1992, he bought his first bandsaw which is now just one of the many tools he has acquired and fill his shop on Loveless Road in Hazel Green, in an area better know as the “suburbs of Lick Skillet”.

After retirement from Redstone Arsenal, he began to build full time; he not only began crafting dulcimers but also playing the mountain dulcimer. Some of the woods he enjoys working with are red cedar, sassafras and black walnut because of their unique sounds. Some of his favorite tunes to strum are Bury Me Beneath the Willow, When It’s Time for the Whippoorwill to Sing, Wildwood Flower, I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight, as well as many of the old-time fiddle tunes.

Some of the folks he spent time with as he was developing his skills as a luthier were Jon Harris, Ted Walton, Roger Patterson, Russ Green, Ray Hunley, and Enos Yeager. With some he would discuss luthier skills and with others he would pick a few tunes. They would enjoy gathering at many of the festivals and JAMS in the states of TN, MS and AL.  There were the Hollis Long and Archie Lee Memorial Festivals at Tishomingo State Park in MS, the Magnolia Festival at J.P. Coleman State Park in MS, the Dulcimer Festival in Tullahoma, TN, the Shoals Dulcimer Festival, the Morgan Co. Dulcimer Festival and the Athens Jam Group. He also participated in dulcimer activities on Monte Sano Mountain in Huntsville, AL. I especially enjoyed listening to Paul’s stories about many of the festivals he attended and the folks he played with.  Jerry and I remember playing with Paul in one of the cabins on the mountain when it was about 50 degrees; we just wished we would have had some sweet taters to roast in the fireplace!

Paul has spent many enjoyable hours building dulcimers over the years; he has not kept count but many folks are playing his dulcimers and I am sure they have found homes throughout the area!  There is even a motel in Mountain View, AR that has one of his dulcimers decorating the outside wall of a room. Folk instruments of all types are hung beside the guest rooms of this motel, but my favorite one is the one with the Paul Blackburn dulcimer. I spent the night in that room a few years ago and the sweet sounds of the dulcimer filled my dreams with beautiful background music.

Because of current health issues he is unable to get to his shop to continue building but everything – his tools, wood, fret wire, and tuners are all ready when he is able to pursue his hobby. And Misuk, his wife of 35 years, is ready to keep the sawdust from accumulating in the shop! 

Paul still has some dulcimers for sale; if you would like to get in touch with him to check them out, or stop by for a visit, you can do so by leaving a message on this site.


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Lou Beasley’s 85th Birthday

How Much things cost 85 years ago in 1934

  • Average Cost of new house $5,970.00
  • Average wages per year $1,600.00
  • Cost of a gallon of Gas 10 cents
  • Average Cost for house rent $20.00 per month
  • A loaf of Bread 8 cents
  • A LB of Hamburger Meat 12 cents
  • Studebaker Truck $625.00
  • Arrow Men’s Shirt $2.50
  • White Potatoes 19 cents for 10LBs
  • Heinz Beans 13 cents for 25oz can
  • Spring Chickens 20 cents per pound
  • Wieners 8 cents per pound
  • Best Steak 22 cents per pound
  • Average House Price 515
  • 1934 saw the turning point in the great depression in America with unemployment decreasing to 22%.
  • The FBI had considerable success ending the careers with celebrity criminals and John Dillinger , Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson.
  • Bruno Haptmann arrested for kidnapping Lindbergh baby.

Happy Birthday Lou!!

David B <><

31 August: Play Music On The Porch Day


This is a worldwide event and is a good way to meet your neighbors and expose them to music. If you live out in the country you could always go visit someone and play on their porch.  There is no set time to play and you can play as long as you like.

It is always the last Saturday in August. You can officially sign up or just do it. Participation is easy! Just go outside and play music on your FRONT porch. The idea is to expose as many people as possible to music. Participate alone or invite your friends to gather on the porch or your favorite place to play.