Wallowa County is a music county. Virtually any time of the year you can look at Facebook, read the Chieftain and any number of event calendars and find live music in abundance. While the rock, blues and Americana genres are all well-represented on the local scene, old-time country music can be hard to find.
That’s where the Blue Mountain Old Time Fiddlers Association comes in to save the day. With members from nearly every county in the Blue Mountains region, the association can satisfy the cravings for some foot-stompin’ music over the whole of northeastern Oregon.
Someone must have put in a call to the fiddlers as more than 20 performers appeared at a well-attended performance at the Hurricane Creek Grange on the evening of Saturday, June 8.
While the show went from 6-9:30 p.m., those up for eating out were welcome to repast at the grange starting at 5 p.m. As 6 p.m. rolled around, emcee Denny Langford warmed up the crowd with his keen sense of humor while still showing respect for the audience and musicians, and by the time the first musicians hit the stage, the near-capacity crowd had settled back for a rip-roaring time listening to everything from semi-contemporary songs to 19th-century stompers. Even Nat King Cole’s “Ramblin’ Rose” made an appearance.
While many of the musicians were from out of the area, local fiddle phenom, Caleb Samples, performed while filling both backup and lead musician roles while playing with Larry Richardson and John Raines. As lead musician, Samples fiddled his way through “Cherokee Shuffle,” “Over the Waves” and a medley of “Big Coyote,” “Twinkle Star” and “Billy in the Lowground.”
While the vast majority of the audience sported gray hair, Samples was probably one of the youngest performers at the age of 38.
“I’ve been doing this since I was about 11,” he said. “It’s traditional, kind of. My mom and dad got me started pretty young, and I’ll keep doing it.”