The traditional fiddling of Kentucky is drawing the attention of a new generation of audiences, performers, and scholars. Because of its situation along the two main routes of western migration, the Wilderness Road and the Ohio River, Kentucky became an early melting pot of the cultures that settled the interior of North America in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The elements of this cultural mixing were still to be found in the fiddle dialects John Harrod recorded throughout the state between 1970 and 2000. From the African-American Monk Estill, the first fiddler to be mentioned by name in Kentucky history, to Luther Strong who was released from jail to be recorded by Alan Lomax, John Harrod tells the story of the old fiddlers, their personalities, eccentricities, and exploits, as well as his own adventures documenting the last generation of performers who learned their music before the advent of radio and phonograph records.
He will include western Kentucky in his story of the evolution of traditional fiddling styles.
John Harrod has documented, recorded, and performed traditional music for more than 40 years. Born and raised in Shelby County, Kentucky, he has a B.A. from Centre College and an M.A. from Oxford University which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.
In the 1970s and í80s, he played with a number of bands including the Progress Red Hot String Band, the Bill Livers String Ensemble, and the Gray Eagle Band that re-introduced traditional musicians such as Bill Livers and Lily May Ledford to Kentucky audiences. During this time he also worked for three years as a Kentucky Arts Council folk artist-in-residence in Wolfe, Estill, and Trimble Counties.
Along with Mark Wilson and Guthrie Meade, he has produced a series of field recordings of Kentucky fiddle and banjo players that is available on Rounder Records. His extensive field recordings are housed at both the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead and Berea College. He has taught fiddle and conducted workshops at the Augusta Heritage Center, the American Festival of Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington, the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music, and the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. He continues to perform with Kentucky Wild Horse, a band that highlights the connections between traditional music and bluegrass.
In 2004 John received the Folk Heritage Award of the Governorís Awards in the Arts for his work in traditional music.
Co-Sponsored by the McCracken County Public Library and the Kentucky Humanities Council