The Grand Master Fiddler Champion for 2009 is Alex Hargreaves of Corvallis, Oregon. Tashina Clarridge of Rosedale, Mass., previously of Redding, Calif. placed second. The two-day 38th annual Grand Master Fiddler Championship is the nation’s championship event held at the International Bluegrass Music Association Fan Fest in Nashville, Tenn.
“This year’s event brought together some of the most talented fiddlers we have ever seen,” said Howard Harris, GMFC president. “Fiddlers came from across the U.S., Canada, the Czech Republic, and Japan.”
The Grand Master Fiddler Championship. Inc. is a Tennessee non-profit and a U.S. IRS 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, formed to educate about and perpetuate fiddling as an art form and cultural treasure. Fiddlers competed for over $14,000 in prizes.
Hargreaves took home $2,000 in cash, the bronze Grand Master Fiddler statuette and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. This was his first Grand Master championship.
Tashina received $1,500 and a plaque. This was her fifth consecutive second place showing.
Competitors showed their talents amongst some of the leading performers in acoustic music including Mark O’Connor and his Appalachian Trio, Grand Ole Opry star Buck White with Roland White, Quebe Sisters Band, Sierra Hull and Highway 111, Alex DePue and Miguel De Hoyos, Billy Contreras, The All Star Campers and Buddy Spicher, Cathy Roberts and U.S. Streamliners, Fiddle Frenzy, Ashanti Floyd “The Mad Violinist,” Matt Barrett, Chris Morgan, and Matthew Davenport.
In honor of its founder, the organization presented the Dr. Perry F. Harris Award to Dolly Parton for her work in support of the traditional art of fiddling.
Actor/entertainer Randall Franks, “Officer Randy Goode” from TV’s “In the Heat of the Night,” served as celebrity host for both days of the event with a special appearance by WSM announcer Eddie Stubbs and Stuart Fryer, who hosted the accompanist contest.
“What wonderful shoes I am being allowed to walk in – Roy Acuff and Porter Wagoner,” he said. “Fiddling who has been so good to me, its an honor to be able to give back by encouraging another generation of fiddlers. The organizers Ed, Howard and Crystal deserve great praise for keeping a vital part of our musical experience growing.”
Other organizers include Grand Master Fiddler Championship vice president Ed Carnes, directors Crystal Plohman, Gayla Tanaka-Bollinger and Alva T. “Trey” McClain.
Contest judges were Shorty Chancellor, Danita Gardner, Megan Lynch, Katrina Pearce Nicolayeff, and Bobby Taylor.
Among the sponsors were Choice Food of America, Mayberry’s Finest, Vietti Chili, Carnes Group, IBMA, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, and Tennessee Arts Council. The other top-10 winners included in descending order Justin Branum of St. Louis, Mo.; Doug Fleener of Leitchfield, Ky.; Mia Orosco of Lorena, Texas; Kimber Ludiker of Jamaica Plains, Mass.; Laura Cash of Hendersonville, Tenn.; Maddie Denton of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; James Schlender of Bozeman, Mont.; Bubba Hopkins of Spavinaw, Okla.
Contestants placing 11 through 20 were Tatiana Hargreaves of Corvallis, Oregon; Wes Westmoreland of Temple, Texas; Ellie Goodman of Edmond, Okla.; Alex DePue of San Diego, Calif., Eischen Harkins of Canon City, Colo.; Jakub Trasak of the Czech Republic; Tim Hodgson of Victor, Idaho; Matt Wyatt of Independence, Mo.; Lydia Elseth of Nacogdoches, Texas; Jake Duncan of Jenks, Okla.
Laura Cash received the new Charlie Bush Traditional Fiddler Performance Award from the GMFC presented by the Bush Family – Sam, Janet and Dotti – in honor of their father late director Charlie Bush.
Winners of the Nashville Open Senior Fiddler Championship were John Melnichuk of Vancouver, Wash.; Wayne Jerrolds of Savannah, Tenn.; and Lorraine Porter of Adams, Tenn.; and Bert Rowell of Hendersonville, Tenn.
Winning guitar accompanists were Anthony Mature of New Waverly, Texas; Darin Meeks of Post Falls, Idaho; Joey McKenzie of Burleson, Texas; Terry Ludiker of Post Falls, Idaho; and Tyler Andall of White House, Tenn.
For more info, visit www.grandmasterfiddler.com.