Doug DuBois, a perennial presence at the Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships as both a competitor and a luthier, died in 2021, but his family has ensured that his impact on FidPick continues.
A sizable donation from the DuBois family has enabled the FidPick board to hire the Grammy-nominated Faris Brothers to perform this year.
The group has climbed the bluegrass charts in recent years, and having them at FidPick is something to be proud of, said Max Paley, executive director of Americana Music Academy and FidPick board member.
The FidPick board of directors would not have been able to secure the band without the generosity of the DuBois family, Paley said.
“(The DuBois) family decided that part of his legacy … should go to support FidPick,” Paley said. “With his contribution, we were able to hire probably the biggest, most recognizable name we’ve ever been able to hire.”
Rick Faris, the front man of the Faris Brothers, used to teach at Americana and is now a “Nashville namesake,” Paley said.
The Faris Brothers are scheduled to play at FidPick 41 at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, on the north stage at South Park. The event is free and open to the public.
FidPick is an ongoing local tradition that occurs on the fourth weekend of every August. It starts at 1 p.m. Saturday with activities like a ukulele workshop, impromptu jam sessions and square dancing. Contests and performances are slated for Sunday.
John Depew, of Arlington, Kansas, is looking forward to watching the competitions, though he will also perform as a musician at noon Sunday on the south stage. A multi-instrumentalist skilled at mandolin, banjo, and guitar, Depew might also compete, though he hasn’t decided yet.
For many people, attending FidPick is a multigenerational family tradition. Jesse Carr, who plays banjo, mandolin and fiddle, remembers watching his father competing and winning in the vocal harmony contest sometime in the ‘90s. In 2019, Carr won the mandolin contest — “by some fluke,” he said.
“I’ve been attending as long as I can remember,” Carr said. “(My band and I) were hired to play on the stage one time 15 years ago, and I remember setting up and I had this flashback of my parents playing on that stage.”
Carr is an instructor at Beautiful Music Violin Shop, and he plans to compete again this year.
“I’m going to try my hand at it,” he said. “I’ve got something worked up.”
Traditionally, Carr reconnects with musician friends whom he sometimes doesn’t see throughout the year at every FidPick.
“At FidPick I’m playing fiddle and mandolin … looking for certain people I’ve played with before,” Carr said.
The communal element of FidPick is one of its best features, Tricia Spencer said. Spencer has gone to FidPick since she was at least 7, when she first started competing in the violin contest. Her grandpa won for fiddling in 1983, and her dad won for banjo once, but she can’t recall the year. And she won in violin in 2019.
Now Spencer’s children — Ru, 14; Isaiah, 20; Orion, 21; and Josie, 24 — attend FidPick to listen, judge, compete and perform.
“My family had kind of always been a part of it and it was just something we always did,” she said. “It’s fun, it’s calming, it’s connecting, and at one time in our society music was — it’s what people did for entertainment … There might be picnics, and there would be people playing music, and you might go to square dances or barn dances. Hopefully what (FidPick) is doing is reminding people they can be entertained by something simple.”
FidPick begins Saturday, Aug. 27, with barn dancing at 1 p.m. at Americana Music Academy, 1419 Massachusetts St., and an intermediate ukulele workshop at 2 p.m at South Park. See the full schedule at this link.
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Chansi Long (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from July 2022 through August 2023. Read more of her work for the Times here.