By Gail Reynolds, Columnist
Florida Old Time Music Championship
Hats off to the guardians of our musical heritage! The Florida Old Time Music Championship has helped preserve and promote traditional old time music in Florida since 1982. This annual event encourages participation and the passing on of old time music to future generations through friendly competition in a number of categories.
The 33rd annual FOTMC, “fotmic” as it is known, was held this past Friday and Saturday, April 10 and 11, on the grounds of the Pioneer Florida Museum and Village. This 20 acre hillside venue offers an opportunity to experience history through its ten main buildings, including a church and house, which had been relocated from their original East Pasco County sites.
Contestants and spectators come from neighboring states as well as nearby towns. Dry camping, i.e., no hookups, is permitted for a nominal fee, so jamming goes on into the wee hours.
The atmosphere is relaxed and informal. Masters of ceremony and FOTMC founding fathers, Ernie “Doc” Williams and Jim “Mr. Ethnic” Strickland, sit on rocking chairs of the porch of the historic Overstreet House, which serves as the stage.
Fans of the genre or those who would like to know more about authentic old time music — how it differs from Bluegrass which it predates — can tune in to Jim’s radio show on WMNF 88.5 FM the first Saturday of the month. If 6 to 8 am is too early, check the online website archives to hear his show at a more suitable time.
FOTMC does not have headliners but features, as part of the draw, Guests of Honor, who are said not to perform but to “demonstrate” to what level musicians can aspire. This year renown fiddler Erynn Marshall and stellar mandolin player singer/songwriter Carl Jones perf—, that is to say, presented demonstrations several times throughout the event.
A cosmic highlight occurred Friday evening when they played “Southern Special”, a classic train song that evokes the sounds and rhythms of the railway. During the final notes, a train passed by on the nearby tracks and blew its horn. Pros do have perfect timing!
Much more than a contest, the Florida Old Time Music Championship brings together in a warm and charming atmosphere friends and musical compatriots that constitute a true community.
Erynn Marshall playing “Money Musk” at Galax, Virginia
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