Baby Ben (from Noah Lacy G)
James Bryan is considered by many to be the
best traditional Southern fiddler playing today.
Born in 1953 and raised in Boaz, Alabama, James
began playing fiddle at the age of eleven.
He was encouraged by his father, Joe Bryan who
played guitar and taught James his first tunes.
He learned tunes from local repertoires as well
as bluegrass tunes from master fiddler Kenny Baker
who accepted Bryan as an apprentice.
He plays Southern old-time and bluegrass tunes
learned by ear as well as vintage tunes from New
England and Britain, many collected from rare old
tune books or gleaned from his extensive
knowledge and archive of old 78 rpm records.
He won his first fiddle contest at the age of twelve.
In 2011, James received the prestigious Alabama
Folk Heritage award for his lifetime of fiddling.
(Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe)
Adrian's Hornpipe (from Bob Walters G)
Chirps Smith, Lynn "Chirps" Smith was born and
raised in downstate Illinois. As a young man, he
played with the Indian Creek Delta Boys and
learned fiddle tunes directly from old-timers,
including Harvey "Pappy" Taylor and Noah Beavers.
This homemade music was transported to the
Midwest by homesteaders who, bringing their
fiddle tunes with them, multiplied them by
learning new ones from their neighbors.
Chirps became a regular player at Chicago Barn
Dance Company's dances after moving to Chicago
in 1978. Since 1985, he has played lead fiddle
in the Volo Bogtrotters string band and currently
plays in the New Bad Habits.
(the Field Recorder's Collective)
Boys Around The World (A)
Cyril Stinnett (1912-1986) was born near Savannah,
in northwest Missouri. His father was a farmer and
a fiddler. Cyril began playing fiddle around age eight,
practicing secretly in the basement on his dad's
fiddle before surprising his dad with his new ability.
Within a couple of years he was playing for dances.
He competed at his first fiddle contest at a church
ice cream social when he was eighteen and won it.
Owing to an early childhood accident to his right hand,
Cyril learned to play left-handed using a conventionally
strung fiddle. One of Cyril's hallmarks was an extensive
repertoire of tunes (well over three hundred by objective
accounts) many of which he had learned from
Bob Walters of Nebraska, Casey Jones of Missouri
and Canadian fiddlers that he heard on the radio.
Blue Goose (G)
Buddy Thomas (1935-1974), the great northeastern
Kentucky fiddler who died a young man at the age of 39,
grew up - "so poor that even the poor folks said
we were poor." He learned from sources such as his
mother's whistling, relatives and friends such as
Perry Riley, Jimmy Wheeler, Morris Allen, and a bunch of
78 rpm records gotten in trade. (Ray Alden)
Art Wooten's Hornpipe (G)
Bob Walters (1889-1960), is a seminal figure in
Midwestern fiddling whose influence on the tradition was
considerable during the 1940 and 50s, the heyday of
agricultural broadcasting in the Central states.
Walters, a Nebraska native, performed over numerous
radio stations in the region and was widely admired
and imitated by such well-known performers as
Cyril Stinnett, Lonnie Robertson, Casey Jones and
Dwight Lamb. Bob was a consistent winner in local
contests, at one point having won 34 out of the 38
he had entered. Perhaps his biggest win was in the
1931 Tri-State Championship in Sioux City, Iowa.
Walters had an extensive repertoire of tunes,
many of which were collected and published in 1973 by
R.P. Christeson in The Old Time Fiddler's Repertory.
All Young (Amix)
Melvin Wine (1909-2003) was an Appalachian
fiddler from Braxton, West Virginia. The Wine
family fiddling tradition began with Melvin's
great-grandfather David S. "Smithy" Wine who was
born in 1829. Melvin dropped out of school in the
first grade and was unable to read or write, or to
read music. He picked up the fiddle at age nine, while
his father was out of the house working as a farmhand.
As a teenager, he began playing for dances and
community gatherings. At age 13, Wine won a fiddler's
contest in Gassaway, West Virginia, beating the
longtime champion, an older man named Bailey.
Mr. Bailey told Melvin he was having a hard time
making a living so Wine gave him the prize money.
During the Great Depression, Melvin and his brother
Clarence performed together in restaurants and bars,
and over regional radio. Melvin took whatever work
he could find, including many years as a coal miner
and then as a farmer. As a young adult, Wine was
performing at a party where he witnessed a man drop
dead after swearing at a woman. Melvin took this as
a sign and stopped playing the fiddle for more than
20 years. He picked up the fiddle again decades later,
to calm his granddaughter one day while babysitting.
He decided that playing the fiddle must be a gift so
he resumed the craft. Wine was a recipient of a 1991
National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National
Endowment for the Arts, the government's highest
honor in the folk and traditional arts. (Wikipedia)