La. Tech Folklorist Honors Old Time Fiddler Fred Beavers
On Saturday, Oct. 8, award-winning old time fiddler Fred Beavers will be one of five tradition bearers honored during Louisiana Folklife Month. The event will be held at a special Fiddle Frolic, from 1-5 p.m. at the historic Bienville Depot Museum, in Arcadia. At 1:45, event organizer, Dr. Susan Roach, folklorist and Director of the School of Literature and Language at Louisiana Tech, will interview Beavers about his extensive career playing and building fiddles. The public is invited; musicians are invited to jam after the presentation. A long-time gathering place for second Saturday afternoon bluegrass jams, the Depot Museum is located in downtown Arcadia (a mile south of Interstate 20, Exit 69) at the corner of La. Hwy. 151 (Hazel Street) and Railroad Street, in walking distance from downtown restaurants and antique stores. Born in Homer, Fred Beavers, of Simsboro, learned to play
Born in Homer, Fred Beavers, of Simsboro, learned to play traditional old-time fiddle at about 13-years- old by listening to other fiddlers and playing by ear rather than reading music. He learned the North Louisiana old-time country string band tradition, which draws on the upland south string band tradition, including Texas swing and the mountain music of northern Arkansas and Alabama. Beavers’ fiddling was also influenced by live country music radio, especially as it was played by Louisiana Hayride in the 1940s and 1950s. His repertoire features the breakdowns and waltzes familiar to Louisiana families and communities, along with that of his swing heros such as Bob Wills. Beavers has played fiddle with various bands throughout his fiddling career and at venues including the Louisiana Folklife Festival, the Dixie Jamboree in Ruston, several local dance clubs, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Beavers was the fiddler for the Grey Eagles String Band, and he later organized the Old Time Fiddle band. An avid competitive fiddler, he won the Louisiana State Fiddle Championships in 1991 and 2003 and placed in divisions numerous times. He has also mentored other musicians and passed on his expertise in building and playing fiddles to various fiddlers including Ben Robinson, who also won the State Fiddle Championships in 2005 and 2009.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser proclaimed October 2016 the second-annual Louisiana Folklife Month, recognizing Louisiana’s rich living traditions and the people who sustain them. The activities showcase tradition bearers in a series of free public programs throughout Louisiana that highlight overlooked cultural communities and increase appreciation of the vital role folklorists play in sustaining the state’s distinct culture. All events will be introduced by folklife ambassadors and professional folklorists who will contribute contextual and historical information.
Other presentations across the state include the following tradition bearers: Judith Braggs, a Baton Rouge quilter; Tereza Tesvich, a Croatian-American from Plaquemines Parish known for her needlework and cooking skills; Walter Mouton, an accordionist and king of the Cajun dance halls from Lafayette Parish; Jeff Porée, a master of plaster from New Orleans; and Ed Huey, a native of Caddo Parish, retired music educator and documenter of Mississippi bluesmen.
Caddo Parish native, who is a retired music educator and documenter of Mississippi bluesmen. Louisiana Folklife Month is a project of the governor-appointed Louisiana Folklife Commission in collaboration with the Louisiana Folklore Society and partner organizations in each of the host communities, and it is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.