Folk Music Musical Instruments

Hillsdale Fiddlers’ Convention/World’s Longest Garage Sale

Saturday I made my yearly trek to Hillsdale, about a two-hour drive from Detroit due west, to attend the annual Michigan Fiddlers Convention & Traditional Music Festival. Hillsdale has no interstate near by, so to get there, most of the travel is done on US-12/Michigan Avenue. That actually works out for the better, as this same day is the World’s Longest Garage Sale, in which there are hundreds of garage/yard/rummage sales along the two-lane highway from Saline to New Buffalo.

The weather was terrible to say the least at the festival. Previous day’s forecasts stated rain would come in the late afternoon. Well, the rain started as soon as I got to the fairgrounds. And it did not let up. The morning workshops were held in some of the outbuildings, but other events for the day were cancelled. Thus, I was only at the festival for a few hours.

Roger Plaxton teaches fingerstyle guitar at Hillsdale
Mike Gleason instructing fiddle improvisation at Hillsdale
Dave Langdon performing Michigan old-time fiddle tunes at Hillsdale

The rain let up a bit as I hit the road back home, which was to my benefit. I was able to stop at a few of the garage sales to see what junk was available. If I had the time and money, I would probably hunt at these sales every weekend and end up like Mike Wolfe on American Pickers. However, I pretty much narrow my scope to music-related items. This includes records/CDs, musical instruments, vintage stereo equipment, and music books/videos. Even so, I have to remember that space is limited at my mom’s house (I’m still moving stuff out of my house for eventual selling of the place).

It seemed that all of the guitars, violins, amplifiers, and stereo equipment was priced way out of touch. There were a lot of no-name electric guitars that were way overpriced. A Fender Squier Affinity Strat in an obvious used condition that the owner was asking $125.00 was passed on by me and a few others, since I know that a new version can be had at Guitar Center for a few bucks more. As I expected, there were no albums or CD that I was interested in.

I came across one tent that the man was selling a lot of music equipment. The amplifiers were about right for the price, but I am shying away from electric guitar equipment unless it is a really good bargain. I first grabbed some bluegrass-related music books for a dollar each, then saw that he had a Tascam DP-02CF 8-track digital recorder/mixer. As he didn’t have a power supply for it, I was able to negotiate to a selling price of $25.00. A power supply can be had for about $15.00 from eBay, and I already downloaded the owner’s manual from Tascam. So if this thing works, I got a great 8-track recorder for $40.00. If it doesn’t work, I am not out that much, considering that this thing sold for a few hundred bucks new.

Of course, the heavy rain in Hillsdale never made it to the Detroit area, so my garden didn’t get the watering it needed, and I am off to doing it myself. Saturday was also the Blissfield Bluegrass Festival, which is sponsored by the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association. I would have attended, but they always seem to schedule it the same weekend as the Hillsdale fiddle festival, and I am committed to attending that, taking archival photos for the Michigan Old-Time Fiddle Association. I haven’t talked to anyone about Blissfield, but from looking at Saturday’s weather radar, it looks as if that event was hit heavily with rain as well. It is the chance any organizer takes when scheduling an outdoor event.

Last week’s Milan festival and this weekend’s Hillsdale festival were the only festivals I have been able to attend this summer due to a number of factors. Right now, the only other event scheduled for the rest of the year is the old-time fiddle contest in New Boston on October 3rd. It will be difficult to get back to the larger crowds for a lot of these minor events since the pandemic lockdowns have killed attendance. I try to find out what is out there and attend what I can. I hope that 2023 will be better for me and others. I am planning to attend the SPBGMA convention in Nashville in January, I am just waiting on exact dates.

In the meantime, I am going to see what demo I can record on the Tascam 8-track.

Chew on it and comment.