Old-time fiddling is not just for old-timers. Some of the hottest young fiddlers come from the North State, where the thriving music community nurtures the talent of tomorrow and produces champion after champion. Three of those rising stars perform locally with the group Ice Cream Social.
Celeste Peña, 9 years old, is the reigning California state champion in the peewee division. From Palo Cedro, she recently took first place at both the Weaverville and Red Bluff Opens, and she placed eighth at Nationals last year. She also won the Bud Griffiths award for most enthusiastic fiddler for District 6. Celeste has been playing fiddle since she was 4 ½. She likes old-time music but prefers fast and furious Texas-style competition tunes like Dusty Miller. Celeste is known for her soulful rendition of I Don’t Love Nobody.
Kate Busey, 17, was the junior division champion of the Red Bluff and Cloverdale Opens. This year she won in the open divisions at both Weaverville and Ukiah. A native of Red Bluff, she is a student at Shasta College and has been playing fiddle for nine years. What she likes best about fiddle is its inclusiveness: “Old and young, there is no one that is shunned. Everyone is equal. No one is a stranger in the fiddle community.” Kate plays classical and Celtic, as well as old-time. She plans on getting a master’s degree in music education. Her fiddling is polished and lively, and infused with her love for the music.
Laurel Shoop, 14, won first place in the junior division at the District 6 Competition for 2007 and 2008. She recently placed third at the Weaverville Open. Also from Red Bluff, Laurel has been playing fiddle for eight years. She is classically trained as well, and has played with the North Valley Youth Symphony. That training is apparent in Laurel’s music, which is tinged with deep emotion and an ethereal vibrato. Her waltzes are gorgeous, but she also does a down-and-dirty Crafton’s Blues.
Fiddling around is serious business in the North State.
Ice Cream Social showcases just a little bit of the remarkable talent of the area. Wish upon a star, or pick up a fiddle and practice like these kids – and become the star.
You can hear Ice Cream Social perform during ArtHop on Saturday, Jan. 9, at Hilltop Estates, 451 Hilltop Dr., from 6 to 8 p.m.
Click here for more photos of fiddlers and information about the California State Old-Time Fiddlers Association District 6.
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