Banjo masters to perform in Galax

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The event will benefit HoustonFest 2012

By April Wright, Reporter


Houston Caldwell was about giving back to others and sharing his talents, said close friend and mentor Stevie Barr, owner of Barr’s Fiddle Shop in downtown Galax, where Caldwell worked.
Caldwell, a banjo prodigy, soldier and firefighter, died in a motorcycle accident at the age of 18 in April 2010.
HoustonFest, a bluegrass music festival, was named in his memory. The Second Annual HoustonFest will be held May 4-5 in Felts Park.
Barr and his dad, Tom, have built a Galax-style dulcimer that will be donated for the live auction during HoustonFest. Proceeds from the auction will go toward a scholarship in memory of Caldwell, youth music programs and operating expenses for the festival.
“When I was asked to build an instrument, I thought it was a really cool thing to do to help keep his memory alive. I want to keep doing what he would have wanted,” said Barr. “It also keeps the art of instrument-making alive.”
Last year, Barr brought dozens of banjo players to the Rex Theater in Galax for the first Masters of the Banjo concert — a fundraiser to keep HoustonFest going.
The second Masters of the Banjo concert will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at the Rex Theater and will include some of the top banjo players, such as Sammy Shelor, who has performed on “Late Night with David Letterman;” Eric Hardin, who has won the banjo contest at the Galax Fiddlers’ Convention; Terry Baucom, who has played with Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Stevie Barr, who has toured with country musician John Berry; Steve Lewis, who has won the MerleFest banjo championship; Thom Moore, who performs in Celtic style; and Ray Chatfield, who performs a clawhammer style.
Each will play two or three numbers, and then all will play together. They will each talk about their different music styles and how they learned to play.
Then, Travis Frye and Blue Mountain will perform at 8:30 p.m.
“This is great,” said Barr. “It’s not every day you get to have these musicians in Galax.”
A meet and greet will be held after the show.  
All musicians have volunteered to perform.
Cost is $7, with half of the proceeds going to HoustonFest and the other half going to the Blue Ridge Backroads Show.