Ooh, oh, Gimme Shelter

By Steven Libowitz   |   May 21, 2020

In the pre-pandemic era, last weekend would have marked the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival’s 60th annual event, a downhome acoustic instrument extravaganza that is rivaled around these parts only by Santa Barbara’s own similarly-themed Fiddle Convention and Festival, which still has high hopes of holding its event in the fall. Instead, Topanga has had to migrate online, or rather make that morph, as the festival itself was canceled.

In its place, however, organizers have announced the First (hopefully not annual) Virtual Gimme Shelter Contest, a virtual performance competition that aims to keep the connections going while also giving budding performers a chance to show off their developing skills.

“Folk music has always been a way to express challenging times, and we are hoping to get through the next few months with a renewed sense of unity and strength,” the statement said, adding that the virtual event is being produced “in the spirit of folk music, and its rich history of perseverance.”

Anyone can enter, as long as they follow the rules, including recording the video during this COVID-19 quarantine and following appropriate physical distancing regulations for collaborators who are not cohabiting. “The video does not have to be fancy. We are judging your performance, and not filmmaking capability. But… if you would like, dress creatively to reflect the times. You can use pajamas, hats, hazmat suits, etc.”

Videos should also follow the guidelines of the original – read in-person – contests in the areas of music, songwriting and folk dance. There is no contest registration fee. In the truly laid-back stance of a folk festival, the rules say that the winners will be announced as soon as the categories are filled up and the judges submit their scores of the performances.

Get all the details online at www.topangabanjofiddle.org.


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