MOUNT VERNON — It’s been 108 years since Mount Vernon native son Dan Emmett drew his last breath, but the famed minstrel’s spirit was nevertheless in evidence Saturday morning as area musicians competed in flat-pick guitar and banjo contests at the 25th Annual Dan Emmett Music and Arts Festival.
The contests were held under threatening skies and in unseasonably blustery weather, but a sizable audience took in performances that showcased talented artists from around Ohio. First up on the First-Knox South Stage was the Flat-Pick Guitar Contest, which included three age divisions: 20-and-Over, 13-19 and 12-and-Under.
Jacob Stockdale, who hails from Bolivar in Tuscarawas County, is a self-taught guitarist who considers the fiddle his main instrument. In fact, he was last year’s champion in the open class of the Dan Emmett Festival’s Old-Time Fiddle Contest. But this was his day to shine on guitar as he earned top scores from the judges of the 20-and-Over division. Rick Tincher of Mount Vernon was the runner-up, and Caleb Eddy of Utica placed third.
“I’ve been playing since I was 7, mainly with our Stockdale Family Band,” Jacob said. The band performs bluegrass and gospel music and has released two CDs: “GrassFed” and “Bluegrass in the Backwoods.” Jabob’s winning number on Saturday was “Red Haired Boy,” and the same song propelled Joshua Byrne of Homer to victory in the 13-19 division.
Joshua, 18, is a graduate of the Ohio Virtual Academy. He will begin college course work this fall at Ohio State, where he plans to study computer science and engineering. He didn’t get started in music until he was almost 15, and along with guitar says he has recently started playing mandolin. Joshua had a unique chance to perform in the Amazon region of Brazil while on a mission trip from the Vineyard Church of Licking County.
Kevin Pae of Mount Vernon was the runner-up in the 13-19 division, and Collin Montgomery, also from Mount Vernon, finished third.
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