Louise wanted me to remind those who are interested in participating that we are continuing to collect canned/packaged food for “A Can A JAM” as we continue to give back to the community . 

She says, “We have delivered 40 lbs. of food to Limestone Co. Churches Inc. (LCCI ) so far. There is a great need in our community and anything you want to contribute will be greatly appreciated.”

See ya Thursday!

David B <><


Call To Action: Have Fidders Convention in Athens start rotating the order of events

As many of you know each year at the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention there is a mountain dulcimer contest.  It’s a lot of fun to enter or to watch as a spectator. Unfortunately, it is always the last event on Friday night.  The dulcimer contest usually starts around 10 pm and usually ends between 11 pm or 12 pm depending on various factors such as if the other music categories ahead of us run long, the number of contestants, and train stoppages.

The contests they have on Friday evening are in this order: Harmonica, Mandolin, Bluegrass Banjo, Dobro, and Dulcimer.  Out of the five events, the dulcimer contest is always last.

Therefore, I’m encouraging those of you that have an interest either as a contestant or a spectator to contact the Fiddlers committee to tell them they should rotate the contest order each year so that it’s not always the same instrument going first and the same instrument going last.

It is my hope that not just local dulcimer enthusiasts will contact the Fiddlers Convention organizers, but folk from other parts of Alabama AND from other states that have an interest in these things. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

In addition, I suggest not just dulcimer contestants but “potential” dulcimer contestants contact the organizers. And I recommend those who don’t play or compete but who attend who enjoy watching the contests should contact the organizers (as well as “potential” spectators) because I know many people don’t stay to watch because of how late it starts.

If you’re interested encouraging the organizers to make this change I’m providing three ways to contact Athens State about this: U.S. Mail, e-mail, and telephone.  Some people prefer sending a real letter through the mail, while others like the simplicity of sending emails. I’ve read pros and cons of real letters vs emails and I can’t say which is better. Clearly, it’s a personal choice and I imagine a mixture would be good (I may do both).

In your letter consider telling them in your own words:

a. How much you enjoy the fiddlers convention and that you know it takes a lot of work to organize and put it on.

b. Point out the mountain dulcimer contest is always the last event on Friday night, behind Harmonica, Mandolin, Bluegrass Banjo, and Dobro.  The dulcimer is always the fifth and last event usually starting around 10 or 10:30 pm and ending sometime after 11 pm.

c. Therefore you recommend that the committee rotate the contest order each year so that it’s not ways the same instrument going first and the same instrument going last.


Terry Stepp
Director of Campus and Community Engagement
Athens State University
300 Beaty Street
Athens, AL 35611
E-mail: terry.stepp@athens.edu
Phone: 256-233-8215 or 256-233-8241

The main Athens State University phone number is 256-233-8100 or Toll Free: 1-800-522-0272.

Absolutely Alabama: Old Time Fiddlers Convention

Absolutely Alabama: Old Time Fiddlers Convention
Episode #601 Segment #3
(If you look carefully you’ll see Jerry Todd in the background)

Also, be sure to look (again) at our December schedule as I’m continually making updates:

Audiology Anomaly

I don’t mean to come off as the jam police… but I do have a recommendation…

When anyone is making an announcement (or announcing their tune) we all need to remember not to strum our instruments (might as well add talking or carrying on a conversation). Please don’t take this personal, I am not singling anyone out as most of us are guilty (as is yours truly), but we’re all adults here (with the exception of Anna and Jerry).

On a regular basis, I’ve seen and heard as many as 5 or 6 people strumming simultaneously during announcements, and to make it worse, each person is strumming something different.  Most of us probably are not even aware we’re doing it… it’s just natural when you have a pick in your hand and a dulcimer in your lap.

At the risk of stating the obvious, here’s some reasons to not strum (or talk) when someone is speaking:

a. Courtesy for the person giving the announcement and courtesy for those wanting to hear them.

b. Given the nature of the acoustics of the room, music from instruments amplify and carry more than the spoken voice.

c. Along the same line… given the age of most of us many of us have diminished hearing (though I suspect some of us don’t realize it or the extent of it) it is hard to hear announcements.

d. Those of us who use hearing aids know that they tend to pick up and amplify noises like strumming more than the spoken word.

Not everyone sees these notices so if at a jam someone is strumming during announcements gently ask them to pause (plus you can probably do it more diplomatically than I). I know it’s mostly just a bad habit that is hard to break.

Now back to your regularly scheduled strumming…

Ten Year Anniversary this year

It just dawned on me the other day that the Athens Dulcimer Jam Group is having its Ten Year Anniversary this year. Thanks to everyone who got the group goin’ and to everyone who keeps it rollin’.  Who’d a thought back in 2003 that any of us would be seen and heard worldwide strumming an old time Appalachian instrument (or doin’ the Red Hen Hop in front of a crowd)?
For an account of the beginning of the Athens Dulcimer Group see the article “Dulcified 11 Feb 2004