fiddle

Katie Kauss

In her single “Good Ol’ Girls” released earlier this year, Nashville’s Jenee Fleenor sings of a little kid in Arkansas who starts fiddling country tunes learned by ear from her parents’ radio. In the next verse, she moves to Nashville at 18 years old, lands her first job and plays on the Grand Ole Opry stage in a matter of days.

Two years ago, a book of biography, art and musical manuscripts was published under the title John Hartford’s Mammoth Collection of Fiddle Tunes. Assembled by his daughter Katie Harford Hogue and musicologists including MTSU Center for Popular Music Director Greg Reish, it was the first-ever public documentation of John Hartford’s prolific composing, culled from 68 hand-written journals spanning 22 years. Now, the same team has brought some of those tunes to a recording.

David Bragger

Belen Escobedo grew up on the mostly Tejano South Side of San Antonio, TX, hearing norteño and mariachi music on the radio and the accordion-based conjunto music of local dance halls. But earlier Tejano music had featured the violin as its central instrument, and even today the older generation of accordionists can recall tunes they learned from fiddle players many decades ago.

  John Hartford died seventeen years ago today, but his influence on today’s bluegrass and acoustic scene remains as strong and direct as any other founding figure in the music, including Bill Monroe himself. That’s because Hartford, a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, singer, showman and historian, was a ground breaking pioneer of progressive, individualistic string band music from the 1960s until his untimely death from Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Michael Cleveland

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CRAIG HAVIGHURST)  --  If you watched Michael Cleveland play the fiddle without hearing him, you’d be hard pressed to imagine a beautiful sound coming out.

His bow flies around and slashes at the strings like a crazy conductor’s baton. But somehow, he achieves a touch and a tone so outstanding that he’s won ten fiddle player of the year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association.