Fiddlin’ – Galax convention documentary film

fiddlinJust as folks all across the southeastern US are preparing for the Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, VA next month, comes news of a new documentary film project about the convention from a pair local gals who grew up in the Galax area.

Titled simply, Fiddlin, the film is entering into post-production now, and the two primaries Julie Simone (Director and Writer) and Vicki Vlasic (Producer and Writer) have created a KickStarter campaign to see if bluegrass and old time music fans might contribute towards the costs of completing the project.

Julie and Vicki are sisters who were raised in Hillsville, a small town that abuts Galax, where the convention has been held since 1935. As young children and teenagers, they recall attending and competing each year as The Semones Sisters. Both have since moved away from the Blue Ridge region, married and raised families, and have worked in the film industry in different roles.

When they noticed that 2015 would be the 80th anniversary of the Galax festival, the two spoke about documenting the convention and the people who play the music near their home on film. Before long, they had assembled a crew, with Joshua Ausley coming aboard as Director of Photography and Tom Hauser as Audio Engineer, both from North Carolina.

Fiddlin' crew: Julie Simone, Willy Vlasic, Liam Gannon, Joshua Ausley, Mack Sovereign, Vicki Vlasic and Tom HauserAttendees at the ’15 convention may have seen the crew at work throughout the week, which was filled out with with Julie and Vicki’s children, nieces and nephews, and friends around Hillsville and Galax. Their parents also leapt into the fray, with their mom, Shirley Semones, cooking for the crew and their dad, Leo, lending them his RV as a base of operations during the festival.

But before shooting began, Vicki and her son, Willy, made a trip from their home in Detroit to visit with members of the Crooked Road Ramblers, an old timey group based in Galax. Initially, the fabled insularity of these mountain communities kept conversation to a minimum, until it became clear that Vlasic was actually a local gal with a sincere interest in the music. Introductions were soon made to other regional celebrities, like luthier Wayne Henderson, who invited the crew to visit him at his shop in neighboring Rugby, VA.

All that footage has now been assembled, and Simone and Vlasic are looking to raise another $15,000 for final editing, color correction, music licensing, and film festival submission fees.

With the KickStarter campaign in mind, they have released this trailer which offers a glimpse of the footage they have captured, and which will be contained in the final product. If you are a Galax regular, you’ll surely recognize some of the personalities shown at the convention and in other locations around Galax.

As is usually the case, the producers are offering a variety of premium gifts for contributors at their KickStarter page, with T-shirts, caps, film posters, and stickers among them. Current plans have Fiddlin’ set for release in 2017, with screenings at multiple film festivals around the US.

Find all the details about the fundraising campaign online.

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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.