Deer Creek convention and Common Ground Traditions to be held online

Two regular stops on the east coast traditional music scene have announced plans to go digital for their 2020 events.

The Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention and Common Ground On The Hill’s Traditions Weeks will both be held online this year. Noting the difficulty of hosting a competition festival and music camps in the digital space, Common Ground Executive Director Walt Michael explained, “We’re turning lemons into lemonade.”

Competitors at Deer Creek will prepare video entries instead of performing live on stage for the judges, as they have this past 48 years. There will be no fee to enter, but the videos must be submitted by May 29 to be considered. On June 7, the many videos received will be showcased on Facebook, with winners announced sometime that day. Prizes will not include cash awards, as no entry fees are charged, but will include instruments, gear, and free admission to Traditions Weeks classes.

There are a number of categories for entries, including bluegrass and old time band, fiddle, banjo, Celtic band and instrumentalist, guitar, clogging, mandolin, vocal, and youth performer. Each contestant is allowed to enter in as many as three categories. Submissions are to be made by including a YouTube link at the time of registration.

Complete contest rules, and online registration are available at the Common Ground web site.

Michael also shared that while everyone will miss being together on site, he hopes that by going virtual the long running competition can reach out to a global audience, and elicit submissions from pickers who wouldn’t have been able to travel to their festival location at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD

Traditions Weeks will run pretty much as they have in the past, though the individual classes will be held using zoom. There will still be five class periods per day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and each registrant must sign up for individual classes in advance. As many as several dozen different classes may be held in each period, and a handy chart listing them for each week is available online. Registered attendees are also free to enjoy the various evening events on the schedule each day.

These different classes may include instruction in a wide variety of different instruments, crafting of many kinds, as well as yoga, art, and political or educational topics.

Registration for any of the three weeks of classes runs $485, and of course there will be no need for room and board since everyone will study at home. Options for part time registration also exist.

  • Traditions Week I: June 28 – July 3, 2020
  • Traditions Week II: July 5-10, 2020 – featuring the DC Bluegrass Union Bluegrass & Old-Time Camp
  • Traditions Week III: July 12-17, 2020 – featuring Mandolin Camp​

Full details on Traditions Weeks, including registration, can be found online.

Good luck to Common Ground on the Hill and the many contestants and attendees of their online methods while COVID-19 restrictions are still in place. Let’s hope this experiment in virtual content is successful.

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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.