By Sarah Baker
On November 12-13, The Knoxville Civil War Roundtable presented its annual Living History Weekend at Fort Dickerson Park. The free event included many activities such as infantry firing and drilling, a Civil War medical exhibit, ladies fashions, and an incredible stringed instrument performance by Conny Ottway and her students.
Approximately 20, from the age of 6 to adult, performed fiddles, guitars, and mandolins. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect. Between the autumn leaves, the angles of the hills, and the period costumes, Ottway’s audience felt like they’d stumbled onto the set of “Cold Mountain.” Her students were focused and reverent as they played familiar tunes such as “Dixie,” “Old Joe Clark,” and “Skip to My Lou.” Fort Dickerson is located off of Chapman Highway and visitors can see Neyland Stadium through the trees. On Saturday, folks could hear the fireworks whenever the Vols made a touchdown. Each time this occurred Ottway and her students stopped whatever they were playing and commenced to playing “Rocky Top.”
Conny Ottway is a private music instructor in Farragut who has over 30 years teaching experience. She also has extensive experience organizing musical ensembles and events, judging music and talent competitions, and working with young people in other capacities. She has co-written and recorded a Bluegrass Fiddle Book with flatpik musician Steve Kaufman. “She’s such a good teacher, so kind and patient with the children she teaches,” said Elaine Hood, whose grandson Archer, 7, takes lessons from Ottway.
Susannah Sayre’s daughter, Natalie, who’s 8, just started playing in August. “I think it’s great for music students to use their skills in a group setting and play and to start an interest in history, to fuel an interest in the Civil War through music and costumes.”
For more information about Conny Ottway or her music classes, visit www.connyottway.com.
By Sarah Baker