- Featured Stories
- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
A local resident has made a name for himself in the world of fiddle contests, and has cemented his reputation with a big win at a national competition,
Junior Marriott, owner of Marriott Music in Ava, placed first in the open division of the Grand Lake National Fiddle Fest in Grove, Okla., which was held June 10-12 of this year.
The contest was nationally-sanctioned by the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest in Weiser, Idaho, the circuit leader.
Marriott, who grew up in Stover, Mo., near Lake of the Ozarks, began playing the guitar at age 7.
“My dad was a fiddle player and I started out, because there weren’t any rhythm players around, playing guitar backup for him,” he said.
His father played square dances and top 40 music, but was not involved in fiddle contests until Marriott became interested in them.
Marriott’s sisters are both musically inclined, one playing piano and the other playing rhythm guitar.
His mother’s family were all musicians, as well.
“We were kind of the old-time sort of family,” Marriott said. “Every Sunday was a big dinner and music party.”
Marriott spent many years as a professional musician playing with bands before moving to Ava.
“I guess I got burnt out on being gone all the time,” he said. “I started teaching while I was still playing out, but it was just whenever I could.
“I found out I had a niche for that and enjoyed it.”
Marriott said he also enjoyed that his students came to him, instead of him having to travel even further.
He’s been teaching music over 25 years, and has been teaching and repairing instruments out of his home since 2004.
Marriott first opened a shop at 206 W. Washington in Ava, but quickly outgrew the space.
His music business is now located at 1302 SW 10th Way, along Highway 5.
His range of instruments that he plays includes “mostly anything with strings,” he said.
He can play the fiddle, guitar, bass guitar, mandolin and a little bit of banjo, though he mostly concentrates on the fiddle and guitar.
“It’s a good thing that I can play the fiddle, because I can’t dance,” he said.
His first fiddle contest was June 11 of 1982, at age 14 in Warsaw, Mo. for the Jubilee Days.
He was the Missouri state fiddling champion for the first time at age 16, and has won the award several times since then, along with the Kansas state champion title.
He also placed second in the national competition.
His son is also an accomplished fiddle player, and placed third in the world competition last year.
At the Grand Lake National Fiddle Fest, Marriott competed in three rounds of competition.
Competitors play a “break down,” or a faster, square-dance style tune, then a waltz, then a tune of their choice.
The field is cut to the top 10 competitors, then the top 5 competitors.
He also won first in the twin division with Cody Marriott and first in the gambler division.
In this division, the fiddle player “draws a tune out of the hat” and then has to play it. If he cannot, he is eliminated.
Play continues until the last two players. When one fails to play the tune, the other one must be able to play it before declared the winner.
Junior also took second place at the Boonsboro, Mo. contest on July 4.
Reflections is a weekly column exploring the history of Douglas County. This summer, we will be exploring local wedding destinations, fireworks celebrations and day trips. If you have an idea for an article, please call 417-683-4181 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org