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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: "National" banjo champion?


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Bill Rogers - Posted - 07/23/2008:  20:31:07


I see that the Uncle Dave Macon Days has crowned a "national" old-time banjo champion. Hmm. I have no disrespect at all for Jim Holland, and winning that banjo contest is a great feather in his cap. That said, I think it's arrogant in the extreme for the Uncle Dave Macon Days to claim its banjo contest is some sort of "national" championship. Without some sort of widespread series of eliminations from the 50 states and various regions of the country culminating in a national play-off among the regional winners, no contest anywhere should have the temerity to claim it is a "national" championship. I doubt that such could ever really be organized. Too much expense and very difficult logistics. You'd have to start with coordinated state contests having the same judging criteria, in, say, early June, then maybe 5 regional contests with the five winners then playing off in a national championship in Washington, D.C. on July 4. Until pigs fly and such a contest occurs, the various gatherings around the country should be content to proclaim their contests as their own championships--nothing more.

Bill

KE - Posted - 07/23/2008:  20:38:30


As I looked at the website while thinking about going, I came across this information:

"In 1986 the US House of Representatives proclaimed these competitions to be the National Championships in Old-Time Banjo, Old-Time Clogging and Old-Time Buck Dancing. In 2008, the “House of Representatives” recorded Murfreesboro as a designated “National American Music Center for Traditional American Music”.

Apparently, the designation is by an Act of Congress. You may need to take it up with them.

And now this is probably a political thread. If so, my apologies.

Bill Rogers - Posted - 07/23/2008:  20:57:05


Well, there's nothing new about the House being arrogant. I suspect that august body was asked for the proclamation by the Macon Days folks or maybe the Representative from Murfreesboros's district; that's usually how such proclamations come about. Incidentally, a House resolution/proclamation is not an act of Congress--it's just the sense of the House. From what I saw on the Macon Days website, that's all they got. There's no joint resolution with the Senate and no act of Congress signed into law by the president. So I'll stand by my comments.

Bill


Edited by - Bill Rogers on 07/23/2008 20:57:49

KE - Posted - 07/23/2008:  21:05:53


Bill, you must teach government: your distinction is correct, as is your description of how much thought goes into legislative proclamations.

But still, it gives a bit more imprimateur to the title than just being the self-proclaimed National Championship -- perhaps even a bit more than the designation World Champions for the winner of MLB's World Series.

Bill Rogers - Posted - 07/23/2008:  21:24:06


Bingo, Ken. In fact earlier this summer I wrote my school district's curriculum guide for American Government. It was my undergrad major and I've been teaching it off and on for 25 years. And I agree with you that at least UDMD isn't solely self-proclaimed. You're right about the World Series. Starting in 2006 or maybe a year or two before, Major League Baseball finally grasped that. The winner is now simply the "World Series Champion." Now they need to call it maybe the "Major League Series." But I digress too much. Here's to Jim Holland and all contest champion old-time banjo players. They've gotten awards I'll never reach for sure.

Bill

Sandy Rothman - Posted - 07/27/2008:  13:50:57


When I lived in Ohio, all kinds of things were dubbed "National"—including such things as bluegrass festivals that might not have been known in the next county. FWIW.

TR Dockery - Posted - 07/27/2008:  14:03:07


Sadly, the same could be said of the National Banjo Picking/Guitar Picking/etc competition at Walnut Grove in Winfield, KS. No disrespect intended to any winner, but where were the "playoffs" leading up to these titles? More importantly, how do we fix this? An act of Congress, especially this Congress, gives these events anything but credibility.

Regards,
Randy in Germantown, TN

"Always wear the white belt."
Paul Hawthorne, Banjo Sen-Sei


Edited by - TR Dockery on 07/27/2008 14:07:56

Ronnie - Posted - 07/27/2008:  14:27:33


FWIW Mr. Holland did a fine job with his banjo. He was backed up by Pastor Harry on Guitar.
During the late 1960's, early 70's. There was a "Tennessee State" contest where I won the banjo 1st prize
consistantly. I never considered myself to be the state banjo champion as I am sure there were several other
"state" contests at the time.

www.bobbythompsonbanjo.com

jbalch - Posted - 07/27/2008:  15:42:46


I served and Chairman of Judging for Uncle Dave Macon Days for twenty-seven years. I am currently a member of the festival board of directors.

Uncle Dave Macon Days has been established to preserve and promote traditional American music. A few years ago, the festival director sought to establish a “National” title event as a means of bringing more attention to the participants and the music.

Uncle Dave Macon Days is a true not-for-profit organization. The organizers are unpaid volunteers. The motivation is simply a love of the music. The festival is a free gift to the community and the public.

I can assure you that there is no “arrogance” involved on the part of anyone associated with this event. I’m personally very offended by this thread.


www.johnbalchmusic.com
www.myspace.com/johnbalch

Banjophobic - Posted - 07/27/2008:  15:48:33


Labeling someone "worlds best" anything in music is just for entertainment purposes. Many players live in the banjo 'contest' world. They have a group of tunes that they can obliterate and have focused on the contest aspect of banjo. Many times the banjoist of this mold are limited in other ways and have a narrow focus of thier talents. Music isnt about who is 'best'.
If someone tends to put stock in a players abilities based on contests won, ribbons awarded, names on plaques,etc, then that person should get out more and really find out what makes a great player.
Besides, you could win the "wrolds best" at the 'official banjo contest of the world', as not be as technically proficient as someone who lives down the road from the contest site, but never leaves the house.
Music is much more than fancy licks and technical prowess. Its about groove,fell emotions and passionate playing along with great technique. Just my thoughts...

BanjoLink - Posted - 07/27/2008:  16:06:11


Quote:

"I served and Chairman of Judging for Uncle Dave Macon Days for twenty-seven years. I am currently a member of the festival board of directors.

Uncle Dave Macon Days has been established to preserve and promote traditional American music. A few years ago, the festival director sought to establish a “National” title event as a means of bringing more attention to the participants and the music.

Uncle Dave Macon Days is a true not-for-profit organization. The organizers are unpaid volunteers. The motivation is simply a love of the music. The festival is a free gift to the community and the public.

I can assure you that there is no “arrogance” involved on the part of anyone associated with this event. I’m personally very offended by this thread."

John:

All of what you said is quite noble and apparently the festival is held, judged, and operated for all of the right reasons. I wish more festivals were the same. However, nothing you said has anything to do with Bill's point. Perhaps he chose the wrong word ("arrogant"), and in retrospect may not (or may) use it again. Likewise, I don't blame you for defending a festival that you are so invested in.

I think Ken answers the question that Bill asks ("In 1986 the US House of Representatives proclaimed these competitions to be the National Championships in Old-Time Banjo ......................................). The real discussion should be how or why would congress single out one festival for such a proclaimation.



Edited by - BanjoLink on 07/27/2008 18:38:02

DaveInCA - Posted - 07/27/2008:  16:20:33


Nothing new here about a regional contest proclaiming "National" status---the Weiser (Idaho) fiddle contest has for a long time billed itself as the "National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest" when it should really be something more like "The Northwest Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest". John, I can see why you might be offended as you likely feel that everyone's intentions were above-board, but perhaps you can see, in turn, why use of the term "National" might seem a bit disingenuous to some for the reasons that Bill so clearly stated in his first post, above. IIRC, the folks at Weiser defend their use of the term "National' because the contest is open to people from anywhere in the US (or anywhere else in the world, for that matter) and contestants often do come from distant states.

Dave

Ronnie - Posted - 07/27/2008:  16:45:49


I enjoy the music, hospitality and fellowship of Uncle Dave Macon Days and the good folks of Murfreesboro and leave it at that.
I am looking forward to attending next year.

www.bobbythompsonbanjo.com

jbalch - Posted - 07/27/2008:  17:27:08


quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers

... I think it's arrogant in the extreme ...



I'm not going to argue this further...but I see the above language as unnecessary and offensive. All Uncle Dave Macon Days has ever endeavored to do is to honor musicians and promote their art. In spite of statements to the contrary...I see these words as directly disrespectful to the participants, and everyone associated with the event.



www.johnbalchmusic.com
www.myspace.com/johnbalch


Edited by - jbalch on 07/27/2008 17:40:17

Bill Rogers - Posted - 07/27/2008:  17:49:21


quote:
Originally posted by jbalch

I'm not going to argue this further...




Nor am I.

Bill

supah_g - Posted - 07/27/2008:  21:29:34


Unfortunately, I have yet to make it to Murfreesboro, but I can only surmise that any kind of act by the US House of Representaives was a salutation, and a nod of approval for the fine work those folks are doing in preserving and embracing a certain aspect of our musical heritage.

Being that banjo playing doesn't lend itself to the easily judged "higher, faster, stronger" criteria, and that any judgement of one's playing is totally subjective, perhaps we might ought not get too hung up on titles.

I would take the gov't "approval" as an honour for the festival. Perhaps Bill Rogers might like to team up with Vince McMahon to start a more just & true banjo dueling construct. ...WWBF?

g.



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