Georgia Old-Time Fiddlers' Conventions
Some of the most important figures in the history of commercial country music
In April 1913, after a long weekend of music making in Atlanta, Georgia's leading practitioners of traditional fiddling organized the Georgia Old-Time Fiddlers' Association. For the next twenty-two years fiddlers from throughout Georgia met annually in Atlanta for several days of fiddling that ended in a contest in which the state's fiddling champion for the ensuing year was selected.
These events received copious coverage from Atlanta's three daily newspapers and attracted the attention of out-of-state journalists,
Unwittingly, the rustic musicians who performed at the Georgia Old-Time Fiddlers' Conventions helped set the stage for two epochal developments in commercial country music that would occur in the next decade—the use of old-time musicians as recording artists and as sources of live talent on radio broadcasts.
The annual fiddlers' conventions were held in the old Atlanta City Auditorium (the lobby and front offices of which later became Georgia State University's Alumni Hall)
Audiences for the fiddlers' conventions included former rural dwellers who had recently migrated to Atlanta in search of employment in the city's textile mills and other industries. Among others who attended to these annual musical events were local residents with rural Georgia roots who had become leaders in Atlanta's business and political arenas. On many occasions members of Atlanta's younger and urban-reared citizens came in search of something different in the way of entertainment.
Wayne W. Daniel, Pickin' on Peachtree: A History of Country Music in Atlanta, Georgia (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990).
Steve Goodson, Highbrows, Hillbillies, and Hellfire: Public Entertainment in Atlanta, 1880-1930 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2002).
Eugene Wiggins, "Benét's 'Mountain Whippoorwill': Folklore atop Folklore," Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin 41 (1975).
Charles Wolfe, "The Atlanta Fiddling Contests, 1913-1916," Devil's Box 14 (1980).
Charles Wolfe, "The Atlanta Fiddling Contests, 1921-1934," Devil's Box 15 (1981).
Charles Wolfe, The Devil's Box: Masters of Southern Fiddling (Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 1997).
Wayne W. Daniel, Chamblee
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