Monday, February 12, 2007

The Georgia State Yo-Yo Championship

I've been some part of the GSYYC for several years now. I've done everything. I've watched, hungout, organized it, judged it. promoted it, built the websites, and even somehow managed to participate from long distances.

Yes, long distances. Over the past few years I've had music jobs that have coincided with the day of the contest. It's tough, but the paying job has to come first, even though I enjoy seeing my yoyoing friends. I plan everything, I get sponsors, I build the website, I seek sanctioning, I put together rules and a tricklist, and everything else that has to be done. Then as it approaches the day of the event I hand everything off to Rob Tsou. Rob's a great guy. He takes my effort, and then turns it into a real contest. Even though I have some mental attachment to the event, I know I can trust Rob to make it run as planned. This year Rob did all of the major planning. Best of all I got to attend and participate!

Dick Stohr flew down to assist. Frankly, we couldn't manage this without Dick. He's got a lot of experience with contests, and the tools (spreadsheets, wireless microphone, etc) to make everything easy on us. I can honestly say without Dick we'd have to work a lot harder than we might have to.

Congratulations to all the winners! You can read the results at Yoyoing.com. Samuel Pankey, age 6, was the photographer assigned to the freestyle event, so be sure to check out the pictures. I wish I could have had more time to meet everyone. Maybe next year.

I did put together the website for the contest, which you can see by clicking on the logo at the top of this post. That logo was also featured on some very limited Duncan Freehand Zero sidecaps provided by Greg Cohen, owner of Infinite Illusions! I'm not sure, but I think there are less than 20 sets of these! Everyone that got a set of these needs to take the time to thank Greg for making these. They're great!

The contest is held in conjunction with the Atlanta Jugglers Association's Groundhog Day Juggling Festival. Because of this we have access to a large venue, and an audience that we wouldn't have. It's a great way to show off the hobby and attract new players from a group that's already predisposed to the manipulation of objects.

I was asked to be a judge, and I had reservations about it, but I agreed. I'm glad I did. It was a learning experience, but I also discovered that when I compared my scores to the other judges I wasn't out of line at all. There were differences, of course, but nothing that skewed the contest unfairly. That was a relief. I'm a lot of things to a lot of different people (good and bad things), but I hope to always remain fair and just, especially when scrutinizing people that give their all in a competition. (That goes for yo-yoing, music, or any other contests where I'm called upon to judge.)

I know I've already mentioned Infinite Illusions, but they were at the festival with all sorts of yo-yos and juggling equipment. I wound up spending my allowance on a Yo-Yo Factory 401K yo-yo. I had been wanting something new, and this one came highly recommended by Rob. Though I have more expensive yo-yos in my collection (you can see part of the collection here) it represents the most I've ever spent on a single yo-yo. I am glad to report that it has quickly become a favorite!

I hope to see you all again next year at the GSYYC!

-=Jim

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About Me

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Short version:

With over 30 years of experience performing and teaching banjo I am eager to share my music with you.

I'm also available for your school or community event where I can introduce the banjo and present a fun program that demonstrates a variety of banjo styles.

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More Detail than you probably want:

I started playing banjo in 1977. I'm self taught... the old fashion way.  I'm a firm supporter now of the listen and learn approach. I've ruined many records and needles by trying to hit that particular spot in a tune I was learning.  

From the beginning I loved teaching others to play the banjo. I've had as many as 50 students a week. One of the greatest opportunities as a banjo teacher came when some of my articles were accepted and used by Banjo Newsletter in an article titled "The Workshop."  I've taught a variety of banjo workshops including The Maryland Banjo Academy, Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamp,  and Banjo Newsletter's SPBGMA Workshop.

While in college in the early 80's I took up playing the clawhammer style of banjo playing. I worked from a book I got from Grandpa Jones. I learned the basics and then spent hours trying to figure out Soldier's Joy from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will The Circle Be Unbroken Album. Years later and many hours of practice I think maybe I finally understand the style. 

I'm currently playing with, quite possibly, some of the best musicians in the world. The Lone Mountain Band, made up of Bobby Burns, Diana Phillips, Roy Curry and myself has been the most fun and challenging group I've ever worked with. I hope to see you at some of our shows!