Pittsboro, NC – After taking a break during the height of COVID-19 in 2020, the Hoppin’ John Old-Time and Bluegrass Fiddlers’ Convention is back! Known by locals as simply, “Hoppin’ John,” the 14th annual event will take place September 17-18, 2021 with an exciting line-up of talented musicians eager to hit the stage. Hoppin’ John, the only fiddlers’ convention in the Piedmont, offers string band and instrument contests, concerts, workshops and family activities for music lovers of all ages. With the added benefit of on-site camping at this event, jam sessions will be happening around the clock on the campgrounds.
In order to keep performers and attendees safe, event coordinators have put extra COVID-19 precautions in place. The event will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result dated within 72 hours. In addition, event coordinators will sanitize microphones between contestants and performances, offer multiple hand sanitizer stations, require masks in some areas and recommend social distancing throughout. Some activities that required close contact have also been cancelled. “We’re so excited to be able to provide the Hoppin’ John experience for our community, but we also realize the importance of doing so in a safe environment,” explained Julie Amani, Hoppin’ John Coordinator. “Fortunately, we can spread the event out over a large space, while still creating the soulful magic that this event is known for.”
After missing a year of Hoppin’ John, it’s even more exciting to announce NC music legend, Alice Gerrard performing on the main stage in an intergenerational concert with Tatiana Hargreaves and Reed Stutz. “I’m excited to be part of the Hoppin’ John lineup this year, along with my friends, Tatiana Hargreaves and Reed Stutz,” said Gerrard. “AND my seldom-seen Piedmont Melody Maker singing partner, Cliff Hale, will be there for a duet workshop session. In these times, it’s wonderful to have a safe outdoor space where we can sing our songs and play our tunes! So looking forward to it!”
Gerard, the subject of the recent documentary You Gave Me a Song, will also be featured in this year’s showcase, under the theme “Duets,” playing alongside country singer, Cliff Hale. The theme will be brought to life by various performers as an instrumental resonance of two musicians or the harmonizing of voices.
Other singing duets include Lynda Dawson / Pattie Kinlaw and Jon Newlin /Amy Davis, with fiddle and complement duets performed by Tatiana Hargreaves / Reed Stutz, Sonya Badigian / Aaron Tacke and Joseph Decosimo / Andy Cahan.
This year, there are new and significant changes being made to contest categories and prizes in an effort to include more forms of traditional music and increase prize amounts within categories. Contest categories are divided into: Bands (Old Time and Bluegrass) and Other Traditional (Blues, Cajun, Irish, Ragtime, Son Mexicano, etc.); Individual Contests (fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, other stringed instruments – including bass, dobro, dulcimer – folk song and dance); and Youth (fiddle, banjo, other instrument and dance). Bands, musicians and dancers who compete in the convention will be awarded a total of $3,400.
Dancing at Hoppin’ John isn’t mandatory, but it’s almost unavoidable as the air is filled with music of all types. Attendees will find myriad opportunities for dancing in the dance tent and on the main stage, including flatfooting, clogging, square dance and Cajun dance. As usual, this year’s event will feature a dance performance, as well as dance workshops, aimed at perfecting the art of moving to music.
From flatfooting and clogging to fiddle, banjo, upright bass, backup guitar and harmonica, there will be instructional workshops throughout the weekend for music-lovers of all ages. Workshops begin Friday at 4:30 pm and run through Saturday at 3:00 pm. Participants are encouraged to bring their instrument (or their dancing feet) and join in at any time.
One of the main goals of Hoppin’ John is to preserve traditional music by passing it through generations. This allows kids and family activities to remain a large focal point for the event. These activities include instrument and dance contests, harmonica workshop, craft tent, “Can-jo” making workshop, clogging lesson, family square dance workshop, a cake walk and musical hayrides. Admission is free for all children 15 and under.
Advanced tickets are available now for the music festival and on-site camping at www.HoppinJohn.org. Proceeds from Hoppin’ John benefit the Shakori Hills chapter of the Junior Appalachian Musicians and other educational programs of Shakori Hills Community Arts Center, a NC not-for-profit corporation.
Hoppin’ John will take place at 1439 Henderson Tanyard Road in Pittsboro. To learn more, view the full schedule and purchase tickets, visit www.HoppinJohn.org.