You don’t have to be a hardcore aficionado to set your toes a-tappin’ when taking in the documentary, “Fiddlin’,” but it would sure help a heap.
Set against the Appalachian backdrop of the 80th anniversary of the Old Fiddlers’ Convention, held in Galax, Va., the tribute to the musical roots of sibling filmmakers and former locals Julie Simone and Vicki Vlasic is an undeniably heartfelt if overlong affair, especially for the uninitiated.
Despite falling on hard times after the shutdowns of a once-thriving furniture factory and Hanes underwear plant, the people of Galax (est. population 6,400) play host to visitors from as far away as Australia and Japan united in their love of Old Time Music (also extending to guitars, banjoes and autoharps) while chowing down on grub from Richard’s Roadkill Eatery.
While the faces of both those attendees and showcased performers are predominantly white, there are a surprising amount of young folks taking to the stage, including prodigies like 11-year-old guitar player Presley Barker, who, like others, honed his craft with an assist from YouTube.
More emphasis on reasons for that unexpected surge of Gen Y and Z interest, as well as the recent influx of female bluegrass musicians like acclaimed singer-songwriter and pride of Galax, Dori Freeman, and less footage of folks sitting around reminiscing or showing off their flatfooting skills, would have lent “Fiddlin’” a more compelling backbeat.
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Playing: Starts Oct. 25, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills