Missouri Family Wins Band Contest in Flagstaff, Arizona
In the 1930s when the Maddox Brothers and Rose were still small children with mama at the wheel, the family would drive from one orchard to the next to pick fruit or from one radio station to the next to perform live. Along the way they would often see signs on the side of the road advertising band contests.
Mama Maddox would always detour to the contest, get the kids’ costumes from the trunk, comb their hair and enter them into the contest. And just as often, the Maddox Brothers and Rose would come away with the winning prize.
Traditions haven’t changed a whole lot in 80 years. This weekend, the Baker family from Birch Tree, MO were traveling back home from a performance in California when they saw the sign on the side of the road advertising the Pickin’ In The Pines Band Contest in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Ten bands compete every year at Pickin’ In The Pines to win one of three hefty cash prizes. The contest winner also get’s a contract to return for a paid performance on the following year’s festival lineup.
This year at Pickin’ In The Pines, pulling off the road, getting the kids in stage attire and combing their hair paid off for the Baker Family from Birch Tree, MO when they were announced the grand winners by contest coordinator Bill Verniew.
Three Baker children, 9-year-old Elijah on bass, 12-year-old Carina on mandolin and vocals, 14-year-old Trustin on Fiddle and Mama (Carrie) on guitar wowed the judges and audience gathered to watch the preliminary contest early in the day - at least enough to secure a spot in the final round which put them on the main stage in front of the entire crowd, where once again the family showed they have what it takes to put on a show and entertain a crowd.
They’re from Missouri, the SHOW-ME state and that’s just what they did. Within the limitations of only two songs, the family presented an entertainment package showcasing their musical diversity and showmanship. They “Showed” the judges and crowd exactly what it takes to win a contest.
Trustin (who already has multiple state fiddle championships under his belt and who just recently obtained the title of Grand Master Fiddle Champion in the YOUTH division) surprisingly began by showing the crowd his prowess on banjo and then switching mid-song to fiddle.
The youngest in the band, Elijah, who hot-dogs a junior-sized bass can also belt out some vocals but it was little Carina who stole the show with her singing and buck-dancing.
The Pickin’ In The Pines Band Contest is judged by professional performers from the main-stage lineup each year and conducted under a one-mic stage set-up. According to Verniew, the one-mic arrangement is in order to minimize stage changing time between bands so the preliminary rounds can be finished in time for the judges to present the top three candidates on the main stage. Verniew also said that each band is well aware of the one-mic requirement before entering the contest.
Verniew thinks a lot of the bands could help themselves to be better prepared and increase their chances of winning by working more with one-microphone in their practice before the contest. He said, “many of the bands have trouble getting their instruments and their vocals balanced and projected to the audience by being either too far away or too close to the microphone.
Likewise, some of this year’s judges said that they felt the one-mic stage set caused multiple problems for some of the bands who didn’t make it into the final round. Joel Landsberg who plays bass for the Kruger Brothers said he recognized that many bands just “ can’t adapt or are not built for that type of stage.” “For instance,” he said, “our own band could not work with just a single microphone when we’re all sitting down.”
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