If you know me even slightly, you probably know that I come from a musical family, although my music teachers back in the day were skeptical because of my own lack of talent. If someone doesn’t know me but has lived in the area long enough, I am asked if I’m from “the fiddle playing Wellses.” Yes, that group, unless they’re in some sort of trouble then I’m most definitely not. ;) I absolutely love music and always need some sort of sound in the background at all times. My high school friends hated how my burned CDs would jump from The Real Slim Shady to The Missouri Waltz with no warning at all. I love to listen to music and dance (when no one is looking), but I wasn’t blessed with a sense of tone or rhythm, so it’s a spectator sport for me.
This spectator sport is probably from falling asleep to fiddle music all through my childhood. I’d hear it almost every night when I went to bed, and on weekends, I would wake up to many family members and family friends playing throughout the night. I’m absolutely certain that my adult inability to reach a deep sleep is from numerous 2 A.M. wake up calls as a child from the Orange Blossom Special. It really does feel like a freight train barreling into your bedroom when your father has the loudest fiddle on the planet.
On Saturday, September 15th, at Santa Fe Trail Days in New Franklin, I finally get to show my real musical talents to Howard County, which consists of registering other fantastic fiddlers and keeping score of a contest. Living with a musical family, I early on learned that I even had a musical talent called organization and simple mathematics. Every fiddle contest needs one of those and I’m happy to fill that spot. The fiddle contest is free to the public and has some amazing cash prizes for the fiddlers, so spread the word.
At one time, I did play the fiddle, as the photo somewhat proves. I played a song called pepperoni pizza at my elementary talent show and even entered a few contests alongside my father. Many junior division contests at the time only required two songs, and I only knew two songs, but if there was a contest with a cash prize and too few entries, I’d play the following songs: Boiled Cabbage, some waltz that I probably butchered, and Burnt Cabbage (yes, that is just a funny way to play two songs twice, but the judges always thought it was cute). I know how hard it is to play the fiddle. It takes years of practice, skill, and talent. You should definitely come by downtown New Franklin on Saturday to hear and appreciate the years of practice these musicians have put into it.
And the fiddle is the state symbol of Missouri. It has a long tradition and history in Missouri life and culture. I was once told that Howard County had more fiddle players than in the whole rest of the state, but after learning more about Howard County history, I’m assuming it was when Howard County was ⅓ of the whole state before it was whittled down to its current size. Fiddle music has a deep history in my family and I always enjoy hearing such amazing talent.
The contest is in downtown New Franklin this Saturday. Registration starts at 3 P.M. and the contest starts at 4 P.M. For more information call 573-823-9207 or 660-537-5821.