23 April 2012

Ivor Ottley - West Tennessee fiddle champ

Everyone who liked and admired the fine fiddling of Ivor Ottley while he was resident in the west of Ireland will be glad to hear that Ivor, at present in the USA, has just won the title of West Tennessee's overall champion fiddler at the 56th Old Time Bluegrass and Fiddlers' Jamboree in Holladay, TN (20-21 Apr.). The BIB sends congratulations to Ivor, who writes:

It was funny, because I had only prepared two tunes for the contest, thinking that would be all I would need. I am staying with the wonderful fiddle player Megan Lynch and her guitar-playing fiancé, Adam Chowning, while I am out here. He is a great player, and accompanied me during my rounds. Since this was my first contest, Megan gave me some good advice about how to approach things. Mainly this meant keeping the tunes very stylistic, clean, and a little straighter than I may normally play them, as well as playing the waltzes a little faster.

I played 'Wheel hoss', a Bill Monroe tune I think, and then 'Ashokan farewell' by Jay Ungar. It was all a rush of activity after that, as I was told I had won my age division and had to play off against the Senior Champion in the next few minutes. I chose to play 'Fischer's hornpipe', as I had been jamming that tune a week before with Bob Hamilton (a Canadian mandolin-playing friend whom I met when his band, Hungry Hill, toured Ireland and needed a fiddle player). Finally I played the waltz 'Midnight on the water'. I decided that since I had not prepared them, I would just have to take a chance, so I played them in my usual way. I was amazed when they read out the result.

... The main thing that struck me was the warmth and support of the audience, and especially the other competitors. There really is a supportive and nurturing attitude to the music here which is inspiring - and, of course, some fantastic players.

Thanks to Megan Lynch for the above photo of Ivor and Adam in the contest. Ivor is currently a regular member of the Downhill Bluegrass Band in Sweden, and more details are on the European Bluegrass Blog.

Update 24 Apr.: Thanks to Steve Holladay, webmaster for the Jamboree, who has now posted the 2012 winners on its website, and sends a link to a few videos of Ivor playing in the contest.

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