In mid June, 2014, I made the trek back to Weiser, Idaho for the first time since 2008. Weiser is the home of the National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest, where it has been held since 1953. I first went in 1974, and when we got home after that trip is when I started playing the fiddle. I went every year I could from about 1977 until 1990, when I moved to Dallas. Then I went in 1995, attempted to play in the contest, and totally embarrassed myself - I froze up on stage. It was a very traumatic experience, and I haven't competed in a contest since then.
I took Chris and his son Brett with me to Weiser in 2008, but this year really did feel like the first time I had been back since the last time I enjoyed it, in 1990. The best part about going back is seeing all the old friends I had made back then. Some of them I hadn't seen since the 80s, so it was great to be able to play a few tunes with them, spend some time getting reaquainted.
There was one weird occurence, though, when I was sitting with my friend Shelley Connolly, swapping tunes sitting next to our tent. We had been flitting about, going to others' camps to play tunes, but this time, we were right there in our camp. A fellow camper approached us and proceeded to tell us that the camp we were in was traditionally for jazz or swing music, and that us playing Irish music was causing her (and others) to have to leave their own camp to find another place to play!! Now keep in mind, this was the same campsite/area where I had ALWAYS camped first with my family back in the 70s and 80s, and later on my own. My brother has always camped there, as has my Uncle Bob (who was the one who originally suggested to my dad that we go to Weiser that first time back in 1974.)
Just to be clear, the funnest part of going to Weiser is the fact that in any given location or camp, at any given time, you can hear any given style of music: jazz, swing, bluegrass, contest (Texas) fiddling, oldtimey, Irish, or any other acoustic music. For someone to tell a musician there that they are playing the "wrong" music, in THEIR OWN CAMP, is like a physical slap in the face, especially since I have been going there since I was a kid!! I tried to talk to the lady, to argue with her, but I was so taken aback I started crying. I was so very hurt and insulted by what she said, that it nearly sucked out all the joy I had absorbed.
However, it has steeled my decision to go back next year, and I plan to take my favorite guitar player Joseph Carmichael and my favorite drummer, my husband Chris. Not only do I plan to compete in the contest, (playing Irish tunes!!!), but I also plan to play as much Irish music in my OWN CAMP as possible!! Lisa better look out, she MIGHT want to camp somewhere else in 2015!!!