A surprise Fiddles, Vittles & Vino distraction
occurred during the closing set by headline band Chatham County Line (far right),
when ranch docents led in the ranch's two newest sheep, Frostbite and Sneakers.
The duo enjoyed munching on the Orchard House lawn grass for about a
half-hour while various people came up to pet them. Another kind of distraction
occurred later in the set, when the American Indian teepee, set up about 100 feet
from the stage, was taken down. Chatham guitar player Dave Wilson commented
that this was "the first time we've played where we got to see sheep walk in front
of the stage and a teepee deconstructed." Click here for a video of the "sheep" song - actually titled
"Chip of a Star" - recorded exclusively for the Westside Pioneer by
Westside Pioneer photo
Fiddles, Vittles & Vino sells out for 6th time in major Rock Ledge Ranch
Rain made its customary appearance, but failed to upstage the 12th annual
Fiddles, Vittles & Vino at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site July 31. The brief,
mild downpour even had the courtesy to taper off before the headline band,
Chatham County Line from North Carolina, played the event-concluding set on
the main stage in front of the Orchard House.
The Chatham County Line foursome circle their
single microphone during their featured set to conclude the 12th annual Fiddles,
Vittles & Vino at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site July 31. From left are John
Teer, Chandler Holt, Greg Readling and Dave Wilson.
Westside Pioneer photo
Adding to the good news, the six-hour music and food festival sold out all its
1,200 tickets for the sixth straight year. Fiddles is a major fundraiser for the
230-acre working ranch at the south end of the Garden of the Gods. The
city-owned facility gets some funding from the city, but relies on donations and
self-fundraisers to cover the balance, with volunteers providing much of the
manpower. Fiddles earnings are not typically made public, but the net income in
the past has been reported as reaching the five-figure range.
Fiddles originally came together in 2005 through the efforts of several area
restaurateurs (under the name, Cloud 9) working with Rock Ledge's management
and volunteer Living History Association (LHA). Cloud 9 continues to coordinate
the food side of the event, in which 40-some restaurants, breweries, wineries or
suppliers donate the food and beverages for ticket-buyers. The bands are booked
by Mark Gardner, an area musician and author.
There was one downside to this year's affair: Bob Macdonald, the Rock Ledge
Ranch photographer, fell while taking a photo, tore his knee and had to be taken to
the hospital, according to Ron Wright, LHA president.
When Dave Wilson of Chatham County Line
jokingly mentioned that big-name bands get immediate applause when they start
playing their popular songs (then broke into a Chatham "hit"), several Fiddles
attendees obligingly responded by applauding vociferously and even lighting their
cell phones and holding them up (as seen in the background). Wilson
acknowledged the response, remarking especially on the depletion of phone
batteries in his group's behalf. The photo also shows a few of the dancers in the
Rock Ledge Ranch twilight (with the food/drink tents in the background) during
Chatham's closing set.
Rioux Jordan photo - special to the
In keeping with the "formula" that Fiddles has followed in recent years, the
musical acts consisted of four acoustic bands playing varieties of bluegrass, and
the headline band (Chatham) performing only the concluding set. The WMD
Bluegrass Band played three times and Wirewood Station and Finnders &
Youngberg twice each. Another continuing tradition was that for roughly half the
event, two stages (the main one in front of the ranch's Orchard House and the
Pergola Stage behind it) were going simultaneously - just far enough apart that
they didn't overlap each other in volume.
For WMD, Fiddles was evidently one of the last shows for the Black Forest
family band. Jon Wieland, who started the group seven years ago with his three
sons, revealed from the stage that his oldest, Jackson, 18 - a mandolin/guitar
player who manages WMD's musical arrangements - will be leaving this fall to
attend college on a Navy ROTC scholarship. "We're probably going to call it quits
after this, but it's been a fun ride," Jon Wieland told the audience.
WMD had previously played on the Westside at the Taste of OCC fundraiser for
Bancroft Park in 2014.
Wirewood Station is a local four-piece string group that performed at Territory
Days in 2014.
Finnders & Youngberg was back for its third Fiddles encounter. Previous years
were 2008 and '10, and two members, the married couple of Aaron and Erin
Youngberg, were with the Billy Pilgrim Band at the '07 event. The Fort Collins
group, previously called Finders & Youngberg, has interesting pronunciation
quirks: The Findders part of the name stems from guitarist/songwriter Mike
Finders, who pronounces his name "Finnders." Also, Aaron and Erin aren't said
the same way - she introduced herself as "Ee-rin." Adding to the band's
identification gymnastics, they also use the abbreviated name of "FY5"; however,
their mandolin player was not on hand, so at Fiddles they were a quartet.
Bluegrass fans heard welcome news from Steve Harris a Fiddles emcee and
executive director of the music non-profit Rocky Mountain Highway. Talking
in a break betweem bands, he announced that he is hosting a bluegrass program
new radio station - at 107.3 FM and 1530 AM - which airs Sundays from 8 to 10
Above, left and below are Westside Pioneer photos taken
during the event.
LEFT: Dancers of different generations enjoy
the music of Finnders & Youngberg (who were playing on the Orchard House's
Pergola Stage, not shown). RIGHT: Ticket-buyers show their delight as the gates
are opened to the temporarily fenced Fiddles area inside Rock Ledge Ranch at
2:30 p.m. The live music started at 3. There had been some advance confusion, as
the tickets and ranch events calendar gave a starting time of 2 p.m., but the
advertising said 3. So opening at 2:30 was a late compromise.
The Warehouse Restaurant was one of more
than 30 food-or-drink sampling locales during Fiddles, Vittles & Vino. Just to the
right of the man with the cooking pan is Warehouse owner James Africano (in ball
cap), who for years has led area restaurants in supporting the Rock Ledge
LEFT: A strikingly anachronistic image
presented itself during Fiddles (OK, in addition to the sling chairs and sneakers),
with hula-hoopers in front of an historically correct American Indian teepee.
RIGHT: Members of the WMD Bluegrass Band perform on the
Pergola Stage. From left are Luke Wieland, 14; Jackson Wieland, 18; Jon Wieland
(their dad); his other son, Wyatt Wieland, 16; and family friend/musician Sam
LEFT: Finnders & Youngberg Band members
gather around their single microphone during their set on the main stage. From
left are Aaron Youngberg, Erin Youngberg, Mike Finders and Ryan Drickey.
RIGHT: Three simultaneous ice projects by carvers Julian Drummond (left, aided
by his wife Linda), P.T. Aiello (center) and Mark Painter (rear) attracted onlookers
throughout the event. Drummond made a cowboy boot and hat, Aiello an
angelfish and Painter two leaping fish.
During a set by
Wirewood Station, Casey Cherry (center) and Herb Wetzel enjoy the
fiddle-playing of Michelle Edwards. Not shown is the band's fourth member,
bassist Bob Bowker, who was to their right)
Westside Pioneer article and photos
(Posted 8/1/16, updated 8/2/16;
Rock Ledge Ranch)
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