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First Place Banjo in the Fiddle Banjo Duet Contest

Monday, April 30, 2018

I had the distinct pleasure of teaming up with Gathel Runnels to compete in the Fiddle/Banjo duet contest at the Florida State Fiddlers Association's Third Annual Jamboree.  Gathel and I were both looking for someone to play with.  Gathel is better known as a bluegrass multi-instrumentalist than an old-time fiddler, but was ready to compete as a fiddler.  By the time we both confirmed our mutual interest in competing, we only had about an hour before the contest.  Gathel's fiddling has a lyrical, winding quality, reliant on inventive long bows more than the driving short bow dance fiddling that I am more used to.  We tried a version of Grubb Springs in A minor, but it was unfamiliar to me and I didn't think it could do it justice.  Gathel took no offense, and offered Julie Ann Johnson in D, which was easier for me, and Waynesboro in G.  We played each tune a couple of times through, than switched to the other, and a few more times were done.  Each time, I tried to hear more clearly Gathel's rendition and tendencies: Oh, there is a surprising slide up to the d note on Waynesboro...I can get that on the b string, let's try that again,...how about a little octave shift for the b part of Julie Anne Johnson, starting at the 9th fret of the second string and the 10th fret of the first string...yes, that seems possible, let's see how it works the next time around. Soon the contest had started and each duet took their turn.  Their was a lot to admire in the individual and the combo playing, and a lot of love expressed between the duets.  And then we were up, and of into Waynesboro and then Julie Ann, and nothing outrageously terrible occurred, and after a few more contestants, the contest was over.  The third and second place winners were announced, and didn't include what I consider a strong performance from some friends of mine, so I thought we hadn't placed.  I was mentally saying my "Oh well, we had fun, better luck next time" when I heard our names called as the first place winners.  It was an unexpected outcome.  I felt lucky and grateful to be in that moment, amongst so many Florida music friends on a beautifully cool April day in Brooksville.

2 comments

Florida State Fiddlers Convention

Saturday, October 22, 2016 Add Comment

A most marvelous June!

Sunday, July 6, 2014 5 comments

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www.banjourneys.com
Playing Since: 1978
Experience Level: Expert/Professional

Interests:
[Teaching] [Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]

Occupation: Physician

My Instruments:
5 and 6 string fretted and fretless banjp, akonting/ekonting, fiddle

Classified Rating: (+1)
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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 10/28/2009
Last Visit 8/21/2019

Chuck Levy has earned the title of Florida's Old-Time Banjo Champion, as well as old-time fiddle campion. He is equally at home on 5 and 6 string banjos (five strings plus a short string), whether fretted or fretless, playing clawhammer and minstrel styles. Chuck is also a respected banjo scholar who has visited Senegal and Gambia to investigate the African roots of the banjo. He learned to play the akonting (ekonting), a 3-string banjo ancestor, with Jola master musicians Remi Diatta, and Ekona Diatta. His work has been featured in the Old-Time Herald, Banjo Newsletter, and in the upcoming book, “Banjo Roots and Branches” edited by Robert WInans. Chuck’s mastery has been recognized by Gold Tone, which has developed a 6 string banjo, the OT-6, to Chuck’s specifications. http://www.goldtone.com/products/details/w/instrument/373/OT-6 ) . Chuck is a past president of both the Florida Banjo Society and the Florida State Fiddlers Association, and co-directs the Suwannee Banjo Camp with Ken Perlman, www.suwanneebanjocamp.com/ and the Stephen Foster Old-Time Music Weekend with Jim Strickland http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephen-Foster-Old-Time-Music-Weekend/195008896686 . Chuck taught banjo at the Mars Hill College Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week and the Midwest Banjo Camp. Chuck is also active with the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine as a performer and as Chair of the Board of Directors. http://www.arts.ufl.edu/CAHRE/senegambia.asp . In 2009, Chuck was honored to receive the Thelma Boltin Award at the Florida Old-Time Music Championships. This annual award is given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to traditional music in Florida. Chuck won the Ed Fleming Award in at the Florida Old-TIme Music Championships in 2012. The award is given to ""someone who is outstanding on a single instrument, or in recognition of exceptional versatility on a number of instruments. It reflects the judges' opinion that the recipient is an accomplished musician who exemplifies the spirit of old time music." Chuck plays banjo and fiddle in the string bands "Polliwanna Crackers," and teaches fiddle and banjo in Gainesville, Florida. Chuck is featured in videos regarding the akonting/ekonting at http://shipsofthesea.org/video Competitions: o 2013 Banjo Hangout Old-TIme Modal Banjo Contest. Second Place o 2013: Florida State Banjo Contest: First Place. o 2012; Florida Old-Time Music Championships Banjo Contest 1st Place, Fiddle Contest, 1st place. Recipient of the Ed Fleming Award. o 2008: Longleaf String Band contest: 1st place: Florida State Fiddle Contest: 2nd Place o 2007: Florida State Fiddlers Convention String Band Contest: 1st Place o 2006: Florida State Fiddle Contest; 2nd Place o 2005; Florida Old-Time Music Championships Banjo Contest 1st Place: Florida State Banjo Contest 2005: 1st Place Southeast Pickin' & Fiddlin'Contest: Old-Time Banjo 2nd Place: Southeast Pickin' & Fiddlin'Contest: Old-Time Fiddle 3rd Place: o 2004: Florida State Fiddlers Association Annual String Band Contest (Fiddle) 1st Place: Florida State Fiddle Contest 2nd Place: Florida Old-Time Music Championships Banjo; 4th Place: Florida State Banjo Contest 3rd Place: o 2001: Florida State Fiddlers Association Annual String Band Contest (Fiddle) 1st Place: o 2000: Florida State Fiddlers Association Annual String Band Contest (Banjo) 2nd Place .

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