The Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree

The 51st annual Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree was held on July 1 and 2 in front of the Courthouse on the Square in Smithville, Tennessee, about nine miles from our place. It was a hoot. Sue and I have attended the Jamboree two times, and this year we entered the Old-Time Appalachian Folk Singing for Duo, Trio or Quartet category.

As many of you know, I have brushed the periphery of old time and traditional music, preferring to compose new tunes and songs. Thankfully, Sue digs deep looking for old country and traditional tunes. She found a couple of songs that I really enjoyed learning, “Red Rocking Chair” and “I’m Leaving You This Lonesome Song.”

We sang these songs together for several months nearly every day up until the Jamboree. The arrangements came to us after a few weeks of chipping away at the songs. We listened to “Red Rocking Chair” by The Coon Creek Girls and Dock Boggs. We listened to “I’m Leaving You This Lonesome Song” by Sara and Maybelle Carter and The Delmore Brothers.

The Jamboree is held on the Friday and Saturday closest to the fourth of July, and there ain’t much shade to be had if you wanna good seat to watch the events during the day. In our category, Old-Time Appalachian Folk Singing, we competed in the preliminaries in the morning on Friday, with three finalists being awarded the opportunity to perform again in the evening for the finals. We did “Red Rocking Chair,” and were chosen as finalist and celebrated with a Jamboree lemonade.

Sue and Billy performing, “Red Rocking Chair.” photo by Adam Hudson

You can watch that performance at this link:

The song starts at 1:52.

After performing for our category, we found some shade on stage left and met some nice folks who were also competing from Watertown and Alexandria, just up highway 70, west of Smithville. We also met the photographer, Adam Hudson, whose photos are included in this post. Thank you, Adam. This was one of my favorite things that happened at the Jamboree, meeting new folks from Middle Tennessee. There was a real sense of support and community from everyone we met. And the backstage staff, especially Beth Chandler, were hopeful, helpful and ready to make the whole experience a joy. Here’s another photo of Sue.

Sue singing, “Red Rocking Chair.” photo by Adam Hudson

We went home in the mid-afternoon to have some lunch, take our dog, Mavis, for a walk, feed Mavis and Minnie, our cat, and go over our song for the finals, “I’m Leaving You This Lonesome Song.” Check out the Sara and Maybelle Carter version that Mike Seeger recorded in California at Sara’s home in 1963. The song was written by the Delmore Brothers.

It was about 5 pm when we got back to the festival, and it wasn’t any cooler. There was more seating in the shade though. We got to see the official opening ceremonies that featured choral singing, group dancing and some area politicians. Then it was time for the finals. We heard the call for Appalachian Folk Singing for Duo, Trio or Quartet and headed back stage. It was near dusk, some lights were on, all of the chairs were filled, and you gotta real sense of how much production went into putting the jamboree on. A special thanks to Sam Stout the president and coordinator and all of the production staff and volunteers for making the event so well attended and successful.

We performed our other song we worked up for the competition, “I’m Leaving You This Lonesome Song,” and it just felt right. The tuning was pretty good, the tone was just about where you would want it, which opened up the window to climb into the song and go deep. It was one of my favorite performing moments, it seemed, in quite a long time. The sound and lights means so much to a performance for me, and there they were that evening. I could tell Sue was also “inside the song,” which made for an in the moment, end-of-the-world would be okay with me, performance.

Inside “I’m Leaving You This Lonesome Song.” photo by Adam Hudson

You can watch that performance at this link:

The song starts at 10:36.

Later that evening they gave out the awards for that days competitions on the stage, bringing all three finalists up. They called the third place winners, not us, they called the second place winners, not us, and then they called the first place winners, and we finally heard our names. What a hoot. Thank you Smithville for hosting “The Official Jamboree of the State of Tennessee.”

And thanks to all of you for supporting the music and this blog…



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  1. Lookin’ good, Billy! Hope life continues to be good down in Tennesse. Are you going to be up this way anytime soon?

  2. Greetings, Bob. Good to hear from you. Sue, our beagle puppy, Mavis and I will be coming to Baltimore on Labor Day weekend. I have a 50th high school reunion on Sept 3. I decided not to book any shows so I can visit with family. We’ll be staying in Marriottsville with some friends. Hope all is well with you. Cheers, Billy

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