Banjo extravaganza in Galax

Galax, VA has a long history in the development and preservation of bluegrass and old time music. The annual Old Fiddlers Convention held there each year since 1936 draws thousands every year to jam, socialize and compete for the coveted Galax ribbons.

Unsurprisingly, this area in southwestern Virginia has spawned its share of talented musicians. One we mentioned a few days ago was banjo player Houston Caldwell, who died suddenly last summer in a motorcycle accident. He is being memorialized this year with a weekend festival in Galax, and a scholarship to ResoSummit in Nashville this fall.

A group of banjo players who had been touched by Houston during his 18 years are set to assemble next weekend in his memory. An all-star panel of five stringers (Sammy Shelor, Terry Baucom, Jason Burleson, Joey Cox, Stevie Barr and Kyle Dean Smith) will be at the Rex Theater on April 2 to discuss the importance of the banjo and share insights on how it is used in today’s music.

The event will be a benefit in support of HoustonFest, and is not intended for banjo players only. Topics slated for discussion include:

  • What has been the impact of the banjo historically?
  • What are the banjo’s roots, and what artistic elements of these roots remain in today’s playing?
  • What are the differing styles and roles of the banjo in bluegrass and traditional music today?
  • What lured these artists to the banjo?

Cindy Baucom will serve as Master of Ceremonies, and tickets are available for only $5. It should be an entertaining and enlightening afternoon, and a fine opportunity to honor one of Galax’s finest.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.