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App State students fuel up to get down at Fiddles ‘n Fixins

Students+gather+in+the+Grandfather+Ballroom+for+the+Fiddles+%E2%80%98N+Fixins+event%2C+held+by+APPS+On+Nov.+17%2C+2023.+Thanksgiving+food+was+provided+to+students+before+the+square+dancing+began.
Meg Frantz
Students gather in the Grandfather Ballroom for the Fiddles ‘N Fixins event, held by APPS On Nov. 17, 2023. Thanksgiving food was provided to students before the square dancing began.

On Nov. 17, App State students stepped onto the set of “Footloose” for square dancing, Thanksgiving food and a live band to accompany the festivities.

Fiddles ‘n Fixins, an event held by APPS, had a large turnout of students looking for a good time. The event ran from 6-8 pm in the Grandfather Ballroom.

The live band consisted of volunteers, some of which were App State professors, playing the bass, banjo, fiddle and guitar. The caller for the square dance instructed students on the steps for each dance, which consisted of the six-couple dance, the broom dance and the Virginia Wheel. 

“I was really excited because I love square dancing. In my hometown in Asheville, I go square dancing a lot. It’s a lot of fun. I’m surprised by the turnout; a lot of people came out to dance, so it exceeded my expectations,” said Merryn Owen, a freshman geology education major. 

Joshua White, an associate professor of photography in the Department of Art, specifically photography, played the banjo for the event. He said he has played guitar for over 20 years but always wanted to try the banjo. He began playing at the Jones House Cultural Center, and as he started playing with different people and integrating into the community he was asked to be part of a pickup band. 

“I love the community aspect of this kind of music, playing for dances, and being part of an experience for people. It is so much fun to look out and see everyone smiling and participating,” White said. “It is fun playing shows and singing for an audience, but it is such a wonderful feeling to play for a dance and feel like everyone is part of it together.”

White said he is inspired by the Lonesome Ace String Band, The Stuart Brothers, Chris Coole and Abigail Washburn among other artists. 

Katie Ferrell played the bass. She said her husband was in a band for over 10 years, and she had played the fiddle previously but enjoyed the bass. Once when she was at a campfire with her friends, she was handed a bass and started to learn how to play. 

“When I started playing the bass with my husband’s band, we got asked to play a contra dance and I was hooked. I like that it’s not a performance, it’s just so that people can come together and have fun,” Ferrell said. 

Ferrell said she is most inspired by Bridget Kearney of Lake Street Dive and Bryn Davies of Tony Rice Unit. Locally, she enjoys Hasee Ciaccio and Kim France.

Noah Williams played the fiddle. He said he began playing classical violin at the age of 10 and was exposed to folk music and bluegrass while receiving his graduate degree in mathematics at the University of Colorado Boulder. 

Williams said he regularly attended the Jones House jam on Thursday nights and learned more about Appalachian traditions and square dancing.

“I’d never played a full dance before Friday, so when Jon Turner gave me the call to fill in on the fiddle, I felt honored and excited,” Williams said. 

Williams said he is drawn to Mark Schatz, Tatiana Hagreaves and Allison de Groot. He has also been learning from Rayna Gellert recently. 

“I love it when the crowd gets into the dancing and the music. I look out and see people smiling and twirling and that makes me happy because I also love to dance,” Ferrell said.

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About the Contributor
Meg Frantz
Meg Frantz, Reporter
Meg Frantz (she/her) is a freshman digital journalism major, with a double minor in political science and criminal justice, from Charlotte, NC. This is her first year writing for The Appalachian.
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