Ramblers win band honors at convention


By Tom Joyce - [email protected]



The Slate Mountain Ramblers is a Mount Airy-based band.


DOBSON — The Slate Mountain Ramblers, a local group, won top honors in band competition during the Surry Old-Time Fiddlers Convention.

A total of 18 bands took part in the weekend convention held on the campus of Surry Community College, along with about 130 competitors in individual categories counting both youths and adults.

Eli Wildman of Floyd, Virginia, was judged the best-all-around performer along with taking first place in the mandolin category.

The convention, now in its ninth year, is entirely dedicated to the old-time musical genre in contrast to festivals that include both the old-time and bluegrass varieties.

That has proven to be a winning formula over the years, including this past weekend.

“We were pretty happy with the turnout,” said Tammy Sawyer, a co-organizer of the convention, referring to the musicians, dancers and fans who attended despite cool and rainy weather.

“I think it was very successful,” Sawyer added. “Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and that’s what it is kind of all about.”

The convention began Friday night with a square dance in the SCC gym that drew more than 200 people, and continued there Saturday with a daylong slate of competition in numerous categories, along with instrument workshops and jam sessions.

“We were really happy with the crowd, and the dance also went really well,” Sawyer said.

Those attending the convention even included a couple from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, who stopped by after learning about the event.

“They were traveling through the area and were just interested in the music,” said Sawyer.

List of winners/adult

• Bands — First place, The Slate Mountain Ramblers, Mount Airy; second place, Old-Time Tradition, Fries, Virginia; third place, Karlie Keepfer and Smokey Holler, Sparta; fourth place, The Low Tags, Durham; fifth place, Cool as Grits, Raleigh.

• Variety — 1. Joann Redd, Galax, Virginia; 2. Eddie Ogle, Wytheville, Virginia; 3. Danny Casstevens, Mocksville; 4. Virgil Adams, Galax, Virginia; 5. Milton Scott, Thurmond.

• Folk song — 1. Kathleen Burnett, Boone; 2. David Russell, Hillsborough; 3. Seth Boyd, Martinsville, Virginia; 4. Luke Morris, Galax, Virginia; 5. Paul Brown, Winston-Salem.

• Mandolin — 1. Eli Wildman, Floyd, Virginia; 2. Luke Morris, Galax, Virginia; 3. Ralph McGee, King; 4. Liam Purcell, Deep Gap; 5. Todd Hiatt, State Road.

• Twin fiddle — 1. Carl Jones/Erynn Marshall, Galax, Virginia; 2. Clarke Williams, Swannanoa/Maddy Mullany, Asheville; 3. Betty Vornbrock, Hillsville, Virginia/Helen White, Mouth of Wilson, Virginia; 4. Rob Fong, Weaverville/Leo Shannon, Asheville; 5. Kathleen Burnett/Ana Lee Burnett, Boone.

• Mark Rose memorial bass — 1. Bill Sluys, Westfield; 2. Stacey Boyd, Laurel Fork, Virginia; 3. Sarah Jamison, Asheville; 4. Barbara Bowman, Mount Airy; 5. Jim Keepfer, Sparta.

• Guitar — 1. Carl Jones, Galax, Virginia; 2. Zeb Gambill, Purlear; 3. Harrol Blevins, Sparta; 4. Brandon Graybeal, West Jefferson; 5. Stanley Widener, Fancy Gap, Virginia.

• Banjo — 1. Jared Boyd, Laurel Fork, Virginia; 2. Victor Furtado, Floyd, Virginia; 3. Marsha Todd, Mount Airy; 4. Terry Burtyk, Durham; 5. Marianne Kovatch, Fries, Virginia.

• Fiddle — 1. Betty Vornbrock, Hillsville, Virginia; 2. Rob Fong, Weaverville; 3. David Bass, Durham; 4. Richard Bowman, Mount Airy; 5. Erynn Marshall, Galax, Virginia.

• Dance — 1. Clarke Williams, Swannanoa; 2. Becky Boyd, Martinsville, Virginia; 3. Marsha Todd, Mount Airy; 4. Barbara Bowman, Mount Airy; 5. Randall Cothran, Reidsville.

Youth competition

• Band — First place, The Ogs, King; second place, Glee, Sparta; third place, Jimmy-Timmy-Kimmy, Sparta.

• Variety — 1. Owen Combs, Roaring River; 2. Emma Bowlin, Laurel Springs; 3. Talmage Pasley, Sparta.

• Folk song — 1. Molly Widener, Fancy Gap, Virginia; 2. Morgan Strickland, Sparta; 3. Addie Combs, Roaring River.

• Guitar — 1. Jay Mitchell, Pilot Mountain; 2. Hazel Pasley, Sparta; 3. Gavin Woodruff, Ennice.

• Banjo — 1. Karlie Keepfer, Sparta; 2. Ethan Pardue, Sparta.

• Fiddle — 1. Asa Nelson, Zionville; 2. Sophia Burnett, Boone; 3. Sylvia McGee, King.

• Dance — 1. Hazel Pasley, Sparta; 2. Olivia Blevins, Sparta; 3. Karlie Keepfer, Sparta.

The Slate Mountain Ramblers is a Mount Airy-based band.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_Fiddle-this-2-1.jpgThe Slate Mountain Ramblers is a Mount Airy-based band.

By Tom Joyce

[email protected]

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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