They don’t play violins, they play fiddles.
And the three kids of Summersville’s Buttress family are getting pretty good at fiddlin’ and have even picked up a few awards for their efforts.
The children of Bryan and Jeannine Buttress include their daughter Riley, 10, and sons Colton, 7, and Brody, 6. The three siblings play old-fashioned (or “old-time”) fiddle music.
“It’s the old front-porch sitting style of music that existed even before bluegrass really got going,” Jeannine said.
The family fiddlin’ began when an aunt – Lacy Moore – made a suggestion that got Riley started.
“She was going to start giving her daughter lessons and asked if we wanted to start,” Jeannine said. “We did and we stuck with it.”
Riley has now been playing for four years, and is to the point where she’s getting pretty dialed in to the craft. She even took first place in Pee Wee Division fiddle competition at the 2016 and 2017 Wilder Days festivals in Mansfield.
Riley has also competed in events in Florence, Branson, Grove, Okla., and Greenville, Texas. Colton and Brody are newcomers to contests, but this year played in the Mansfield and Florence events. The family hopes to make a trip next fall to a fiddlin’ event at the Tulsa State Fair in Oklahoma.
“Riley is really coming into it – she does really well,” Jeannine said. “And the boys are getting the hang of it; now when they play it’s more of a song than a noise.”
“A fiddle doesn’t have frets like a guitar,” Bryan said, “so you have to learn and get a feel for placement of your fingers for a note that’s whole notes or sharp or flat notes and things like that.”
“It’s pretty intricate,” Jeannine said, “and Riley has advanced enough that she’s working on fine tuning her songs.”
Riley (who is also a beginning guitar player) said she’s enjoying having her work pay off.
“I like to be able to play something a lot of other people can’t play,” she said.
Playing in front of a crowd can be a bit nerve-racking, Riley said, but is also fulfilling.
“After you go to a few of the contests, you’re sort of used to it,” she said. “But it feels really good when people like to listen to what you’re playing.”
Bryan and Jeannine said fiddle gatherings and competitions are always well attended by “fiddle people” from far and wide.
“When we go to these contests, it’s just good wholesome family fun,” Jeannine said. “They’re just good people to be around.”
“You can just let your kids run around and not have to worry like you would at a lot of places,” Bryan said. “You see a lot of the same people, and a lot of the kids have grown up together around fiddles.”