16 March 2012

The fiddlers of Flatt & Scruggs

The BIB editor reports:

John Lawless's AcuTab has just released a new instructional DVD by Ron Stewart, which should be invaluable to anyone out there playing or learning bluegrass fiddle, and at the least of great interest to others. It seems safe to say this on the strength of Stewart's past achievements, the description given in the blurb, and the 4:48 min. video preview on the AcuTab website.

The fiddlers of Flatt & Scruggs analyses the playing of six fiddlers - Jim Shumate, Benny Sims, Howdy Forrester, Benny Martin, Chubby Wise, and Paul Warren - who laid the foundations of bluegrass fiddle style, not least through their work while playing with this immensely influential band. The playing of Fiddlin' Arthur Smith (1898-1971), who influenced all of them, is also studied. As Stewart says, his own learning process as a fiddler included months of studying and playing along with their recordings - trying to get not just the notes but the tone and the phrasing, and to figure out why they played what they did when they did.

Ron Stewart has won IBMA Instrumental Performer of the Year awards on both fiddle and banjo, and is a much-sought-after session musician and guest artist on others' recordings. This DVD reveals not just what went into creating the essence of bluegrass fiddling; it also shows something of the mindset that goes into the making of a leading bluegrass musician.

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