Zookon with Driller-Fiddling Around

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by driller, May 25, 2008.

  1. driller

    driller Twist and Go

    Jan 27, 2004
    In The Isothermal Belt, NC
    I have always enjoyed "mountain" music.:strum
    A class for "Old Time/Claw Hammer Banjo" was being offered at the local Community College last quarter and I decided to take the first step towards becoming a "Banjo man":norton
    The instructor told the class to look for mountain music festivals in the area and try to attend some. There is a lot of talent out there; enough to rub off on a novice like me while just hanging around.
    Memorial Day was coming and I spotted a magazine article about the 85th annual Fiddlers Fest at Fiddler's Grove in Union Grove, North Carolina.
    It just happens to be near an area of Wilkes Co. that looked good for some DS riding and exploring.
    So, the plan was on for a weekend of some riding and great music!
    The DR350 got the call and eagerly jumped on the trailer after all the camping gear was loaded.
    We have arrived!
    Camp fell in place...a little twist in the set-up.
    I found this "Tent Cot" on sale at a Cabela's we stopped at in March. It is self contained. Works well with the picnic shelter from Wallyworld.:D
    After scoping out the site I was hungry and decided to ride up to Mt. Airey for some chow and exploring. Fans of the Andy Griffith show know this town was the inspiration for "Mayberry"
    Well, besides grabbing the wrong map and getting off track:becca I forgot the fresh batteries for the camera!:baldy Sorry, but you don't get to see a classic "Food Shot" of the scrumptious onion rings and fried pork chop sandwich I had at The Blue Bird Diner. Yeah, I suck, but too bad!:ddog
    When I found my way back to camp the place was waking up. The sound of fiddles, banjos and other string instruments could be heard. Musicians were practicing around their camps and impromptu jam sessions were developing.
    I went to sleep with music that went on past midnight echoing from around the campground.
    Friday I was ready to do some exploring up towards the Parkway and try to find some good back roads and trails that were on the map.
    An nice ride towards the mountains dodging errant butterflies and smelling the fresh hay was a good way to work off breakfast.
    Finally! A stretch of nice gravel greeted me on the upper third of old 16.
    I tried to find a couple of roads off the Parkway that appeared to go down off the ridge. Seems my DeLorme's is a bit dated (1996..:huh ) and some of the roads I was looking for have changed names or don't really go anywhere. I went down a couple of promising ones only to find conditions rapidly getting too gnarly to be down in there solo. Anyone familiar with the Cherokee Chuck Rating Scale would know what I mean when things went from nice 2.0 to 3.5-4.0 .:eek1 Some day I would like to find the way up but with some riding partners.
    Back up on the Parkway it looked like business as usual....
    Heading North towards 18 provided some satisfying views.
    The run off the mountain on 18 is a hoot! Good twisties with not too many "sucker" curves. The 606's were howling in protest some of the lean angles being forced on them.
    I then picked up Long Bottom Road heading towards the NC Gamelands and Stone Mountain SP. A fun road.......
    Just a few more of the sights to be seen.
    I bet that old hearth could tell some stories.
    Time for a lunch break. Get ready......FOOD SHOT!
    Not those rings and pork chop sandwich from yesterday, but there is a Moon Pie in the middle .
    Nice place to kick back. Even saw a couple of trout swim by in the stream.:nod
    The road out of the Park finished up with some great switchbacks and not far from the BRP again.
    Along the Parkway......
    I don't think many of us can appreciate what life was like up on those ridges 150 year ago. It can't have been easy.
    The elevation of the Parkway is in the 2500-3500 range around this section and the spring Rhodys were starting to bloom.
    Further South at the higher points they will start to show color in two or three weeks.
    That bald spot to the left is Stone Mtn. where I had lunch.
    I continued on down to 16. Three other bikes fell in behind me and it was fun making a spirited run towards my cut off. When stopped at the NW Trading Post the other riders remarked how the little 3fiddy went so well.:evil
    By the time I got back to Fiddler's Grove, things were getting in full swing. Many more camps had sprung up and the joint was a jumping!:velvt :strum :dg
    A little history.....This festival celebrated it's 85th year this weekend!
    Some years back one of the brothers had a competing event that got too big and rough. So bad the authorities shut them down after a couple of murders, assaults and out of control behavior. This event is drug and alcohol free and is held out as a "Family Friendly" show. So it was kick back with a lemonade and enjoy the shows for the evening. It was a treat to see little kids running around having the time of their lives....just being kids, full of joy and energy.
    A good day of riding and then enjoying an evening of great music could it get much better?.:jkam
    Some of the best music to be heard was while wandering around and listening to the different bands and solo performers practicing their routines for that night and tomorrow's competitions.
    Again, I went to sleep with music echoing through the Grove.
    Saturday was the BIG DAY!
    There were competitions and workshops going on all around. No riding today....Music!
    First time fiddlers were invited to pick an instrument and learn how to scratch a tune.
    This little doll picked one that was "just right":D
    In about 30 minutes the group was actually making some notes that didn't sound like cats being abused.
    Mandolin? Step right in for some tips!
    Of course, I headed for the "Old Time Banjo" tent.
    This young woman is 27. She has been playing banjo for 22 years!:clap
    She gave us some good tips on technique.
    There were people of all ages, skill levels and interests.
    Think Barbie plays fiddle????
    Polished veterans...
    Lifelong performers...
    That fellow in the overalls was my banjo instructor...Bob Buckingham with The Blue Ridge Rounders"
    You could learn "Shaped Note" singing, hear mountain storytelling, even learn a few new clogging steps!:jive
    The climax of the day was the finals for the different classes of string bands and fiddlers with selected performers in between.
    Look at those pics of the kids. They are picking up the skills of the old pros and taking the music to another level.
    The overall winner of the fiddle competition that night was..........

    a 9 year old girl.!!!!!:clap She beat other players with many more years of experience. The crowd was blown away.:bow :bow :bow
    Again, the Grove resonated with song and music far into the next morning. :kumbaya
    This morning was a bit quieter. After breakfast and breaking down camp, I lingered for some Shaped Note hymn singing and some old time Gospel tunes.
    A fitting end to a great weekend of some fine riding up on the Blue Ridge and celebrating the musical heritage of these beautiful mountains.
  2. mdrake

    mdrake Been here awhile

    Mar 14, 2006
    I'm kick'n myself that I didn't join you, but I just couldn't make it happen this time. Great pics and looks like I missed a super time.
  3. mel brooks

    mel brooks Dirt Chick

    Nov 3, 2006
    Upstate SC
    Awesome trip Mike!

    I love that music. Looks like you had a great weekend! :D

    Thanks for the pics...
  4. knybanjo

    knybanjo kinda slow

    May 8, 2006
    out in the clover patch

    I've never been to that....and I don't know why.:scratch

    Looks like a good time.:clap

    Sounds like you may have followed some of those cool little two tracks that just go into the woods from the BRP with no signs or anything...then they begin to descend the mtn and get a little bit washed out, pass some old farm buildings and fields then just pop out on a dirt road somewhere...good stuff!

    btw...this lady is playing the same kind of banjo I keep in my locker at work.:D
  5. FreeTheBeast

    FreeTheBeast BDR ambassador Supporter

    Jan 23, 2004

    That looks like a great time. :clap

  6. metlcutr55

    metlcutr55 LongGoneDaddy

    Dec 12, 2004
    s w NH
    hi Mike! after seeing your pics im gonna practice my mando tonite. really. no, really. glad you enjoyed. i set one of those cabela tent beds up last week at a friends. did you transport on the zook? his was pretty heavy and big too. (ah ha just reread the post, you did not zook the tent. but geez a old timey fest and a dual sport together, heaven!) bluegrass season starts up here in a couple weeks, i can hardly wait! and fwiw, a lot of us have mandos and banjers in cases in the closet, Mike here can actually play his, i heard him!