Hoppin’ John Fiddle Fest

Things I Seen, Things I Done at the 7th Annual Hoppin’ John Old-Time and Bluegrass Fiddler’s Convention in Shakori Hills, North Carolina:

* Getting asked “Where’s yer fiddle?” by every other person I pass, and “Where’s yer banjo?” by all the rest

* A guy who stands nearly seven feet high, naked beneath his overalls, walking through the forest playing a ukulele

* A woman with the voice of a Dixie angel, strumming a guitar with a strap depicting The Last Supper

* A boozy woman telling her boozy husband, “You’d never keep me home if I had a voice like that,” to which he replies, “Well I wouldn’t want you to. If you had a voice like that, we’d have ourselves a destination.”

* Three fiddlers, two guitarists, a banjoist, and a stand-up bassist huddling beneath a tarp in the forest, playing fiercely through the rain, and then, when their song draws to a triumphant finish, introducing themselves to each other

* An older woman with tattooed breasts wishing to sit, finding a chair occupied by a banjo, picking up said banjo, realizing there is no other place to put said banjo, visibly thinking: hey, it was there first, and returning said banjo back to its chair and then plopping herself down on the wet grass

* One overalled, ball-capped man telling another overalled, ball-capped man: “You’re supposed to be on a kid’s hayride! You’re not supposed to be drinking.”

* A third overalled, ball-capped man declaring to his overalled, ball-capped buddies: “I say we ought to just go get high.”

* Realizing I am the only one in the forest who is not: a) barefoot, b) wearing flannel, overalls, or denim, c) drunk, and d) sleeping in a tent tonight, and then leaving the forest before any of that changes

* Nearly stepping on a hypodermic needle in a patch of pine needles on the way out of the forest

* People shouting “Yeehaw” with no irony whatsoever

* A squirrel’s tail tied to a tent flap

* A father on one knee, playing guitar accompaniment to his eight-year-old fiddling daughter moments before she climbs the stairs to compete in her first-ever bluegrass fiddling competition

* An onstage guitarist announcing “I learned this song from my daddy who learned it from a black man who was a double amputee named No Legs Sam Fincher who lost his legs hoboing on a train”

* Another onstage guitarist announcing, “All right, I’m gonna do a little bit of the ‘Honest Farmer,’” before crooning Goodbye, boll weevil/You know you’ve ruint my home/You know you’ve got my cotton/And the merchant’s got my corn

* Another onstage guitarist announcing, “I’m a smoking drinking thinking kind of guy”

* Another onstage guitarist announcing, “Now this one’s called ‘Whistling Rufus’”

* Waiting for but never hearing a banjo player to announce “So here’s a little ditty from my favorite amphibian” before launching into “The Rainbow Connection”

* Fiddle cases with handles tied in colorful ribbons declaring SECOND PLACE, FIFTH PLACE, CHAMPION

* A battered truck emblazoned with KERR LAKE CATFISHING CHARTERS across the back window

* A guy waiting in line at the Hoppin’ John Cook-Off telling his friend, “No, no, we stole the golf cart when I broke my leg

* Another guy waiting in line at the Hoppin’ John Cook-Off telling another friend, “There was that one that bit that girl. She was feeding it, and it ate her finger.”

* A little blonde girl wearing rain boots checkered with skulls and crossbones simultaneously hula-hooping and holding a red umbrella, inspiring an onstage fiddler to declare, “Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about dancing in the rain.”




  1. Amy

    What a hoot, you had be cracking up throughout this whole post!

  2. Stephanie Jaeger

    Sounds like some of the things I went to back when I lived in North Carolina. Sometimes I really miss it.

  3. Chuck Whitney

    Boy howdy! That’s a different kind of Dixie from the one you grew up with, iddnit? Please do keep fiddlin’ an pluckin’ and amusin’ us.

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