Some of the best bluegrass musicians in the country will converge on Rim Country this weekend for the Payson Old Time Opry and the 42nd Annual Old Time Fiddle Festival.
The Old Time Opry leads off the extravaganza of great music on Friday, Sept. 28 at the Payson High School Auditorium. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m.
Scheduled performers include The Special Consensus and Run Boy Run, with a special appearance by State Champion Michael Rolland and other fiddlin’ friends.
The Special Consensus
The Special Consensus is a four-person acoustic bluegrass band that began performing in the Midwest in the spring of 1975 and released its first album in 1979. They’ve been touring ever since.
In November 2003, The Special Consensus received a standing ovation after the first band performance on the Grand Ole Opry at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium. International tours have brought Special Consensus to the United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, Ireland and South America. In 1993, the band performed the first of many concerts with a symphony orchestra, complete with orchestral arrangements of songs from the band repertoire.
Members are co-founder Greg Cahill, Rick Faris, David Thomas and Dustin Benson.
Cahill plays banjo and sings baritone and tenor harmony vocals. Chicago born and bred, he has been playing bluegrass banjo since the early 1970s. He co-founded The Special Consensus in Chicago in 1975 and has continued to tour nationally and internationally with the band since the late 1970s.
Faris plays mandolin and sings lead, baritone, tenor and high baritone vocals.
He started playing guitar at the age of 7, but now also plays dobro and banjo as well as the mandolin.
He joined The Special Consensus in 2009.
Thomas plays bass and sings lead, baritone, tenor and high baritone vocals.
Inspired by the country band of his uncle and great uncles in the 1980s, he started playing the guitar at 12, the mandolin at 17 and the bass at 19. Thomas joined The Special Consensus in 2006.
Benson plays guitar and sings lead, tenor, baritone and bass vocals.
Raised in Jasper, Ala., he “grew up” on bluegrass music. He learned guitar at 12, mandolin at 16 and joined his father’s band at 17.
He was nominated for Guitar Player of the Year by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America in 2010 and joined The Special Consensus in 2011.
Run Boy Run
With a newly released extended play recording, appearances at several major Arizona festivals, and a recent win at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Run Boy Run has become a force in promoting Bluegrass and Appalachian old-time in the Southwest.
The band members are Jen Sandoval, mandolin; Bekah Sandoval, sister of Jen, playing fiddle and guitar; Grace Rolland, cellist; Jesse Allen, upright bassist; and Matt Rolland, brother of Grace and two-time Arizona State Fiddle Champion. The Sandoval sisters are the daughters of Payson residents Roy and Sylvia Sandoval. They grew up in Rim Country and at the Payson Fiddle Festivals.
They built on work by modern folk pioneers such as Nickel Creek and Crooked but developed their own new wave of music that hybridized the old with the new.
With captivating three-part female harmony, masterful fiddle work and roots in traditional, jazz, classical, and folk music, Run Boy Run succeeds in creating an innovative and distinctive sound.
Admission is $7 and the 1,000 available tickets are on sale now at the Payson Parks and Rec office in Green Valley Park or at the Chamber of Commerce. Last year, the event sold out.
Old Time Fiddle Festival
The pair of concerts set the stage for a two-day competition sure to provoke some furious fiddling.
The Vertielee Floyd Memorial 42nd Annual Old Time Fiddlers Contest takes place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29 and 30 at the Payson Event Center. It is one of the officially sanctioned event commemorating the 100th anniversary of Arizona statehood.
Gates open each morning at 8:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies at 9:30 and music starting at 10. The order of the contests: Small Fry, Junior-Junior; Senior; Young Adult; Adult; Cross-Tuned Fiddle; Trick Fiddler; awards ceremony.
On Sunday, the event starts at 9 a.m. with the gospel program at 11 a.m. followed by two rounds in the Championship Division; Twin Fiddling; Fancy Fiddling and the awards ceremony.
The Payson Old Time Fiddlers Contest has more than 40 years history of celebrating the musical heritage of Arizona pioneers. The winner of the Old Time Fiddling State Championship honors represents the state at the national competition.
Judges this year are Mickey Long, John Kennedy and Marti White.
Daily admission for the contest is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and under.
For more information, visit www. paysonrimcountry.com.