Late in the evening about sundown
High on the hill above the town,
Uncle Pen played the fiddle, Lord how it would ring,
You could hear it talk, you could hear it sing.
When planning for the second annual First Coast Folklife Exploration, I had decided to spotlight fiddle traditions in northern Florida. Even though bluegrass and country music is popular throughout Jacksonville, many Jacksonville residents know little about old-time, bluegrass, and western swing fiddle traditions. I wanted the audience to appreciate the chance to listen to fiddlers who had rich and interesting experiences to share. I was fortunate to have written contracts with three fiddlers who had agreed to perform throughout the two-day event. Although they all had played festivals previously, workshop presentations were new to them. Over a series of phone conversations, I presented the idea of holding a workshop, and I explained to each of them that the upcoming workshop would consist of on-stage interviews, informal storytelling about their musical experiences, discussion of musical history and various styles of music, as well as the performance of a few tunes.1 All were cooperative and interested in this event, and they were looking forward to the opportunity to share their knowledge of Florida's fiddle traditions.
Unlike the stage performance genre of the Arts Mania festival where Richard and Jack performed, a workshop stage involves greater mediation by a presenter. Fortunately, I was able to contract the services of a past president of the Florida Fiddlers Association, Bob Stone, a folklorist who was working with the Florida Department of State's Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs in White Springs.