2021 Grand Master Fiddler Championship results

Randall Franks, Howard H. Harris Chaiman & CEO, Katrina Nicolayeff 2021 Open Champion,
and Ed Carnes Vice-Chairman & CFO

Labor Day weekend is always a big one for bluegrass festivals and conventions, with many such events held all over the US on the traditional final vacation time of the summer.

Nashville had its own major competition, the annual Grand Master Fiddler Championship, held at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Though contest fiddlers will debate which convention is the most prestigious, there can be no doubt that the Grand Masters is in the top two or three, bringing entrants in from all over the country.

The 2021 championship was also notable for two special events. Alison Krauss accepted the Dr. Perry F. Harris Distinguished Fiddler Award, and Charlie Bush the Wes Westmoreland Traditional Fiddler Performance Award. Two recipients were named for the first annual Matthew Thomas Lin Memorial Scholarship, awarded in honor of the 19 year old fiddler who died tragically last year following surgery. $1,000 scholarships were given to Ashley Rose Dreyer of Johnson City, TN and Jake Patty of Lexington, KY to further their music endeavors and educational activities.

The performance Championships are held live in person, in four different categories. The big prize, the open championship, was taken by Katrina Nicolayeff, her fourth first place finish.

Championship CEO Howard Harris tells us that attendance was down slightly this year, though there were more competitors for the open category.

“Contestant attendance was down in the Youth and Traditional due to COVID, as I was told by those that backed out in the last two weeks. Nashville is ranked as #1 hot spot, and that did a lot of damage in those categories.

It was refreshing to hear so many positive comments from across the US. We had hundreds of fans over the two days on the live stream, with an average of 84 watching in addition to the live audience in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Ford Theater.”

And the winners are:

2021 GMFC OPEN Championship

  1. Katrina Nicolayeff – ID
  2. Justin Branum – TN
  3. Wes Westmoreland – TX
  4. Trustin Baker – MO
  5. Tristan Clarridge – CA
  6. Billy Contreras – TN
  7. Tashina Clarridge – CA
  8. Carl Hopkins – TX
  9. Mark Ralph – KY
  10. Mari Black – MA
  11. Alex Sharps – CA
  12. Tyler Andal – TN
  13. Andrew Lin – KY
  14. Eli Bishop – TN
  15. Joel Whittinghill – KY
  16. Bill Jones – GA
  17. Benjamin Lin – KY
  18. Marina Pendleton – TN
  19. Ashley Dreyer – ID
  20. Nathan Pedneault – TX

2021 GMFC Traditional Championship

  1. Connor Steven Vlietstra – TN
  2. Michael Klug – TN
  3. Nicole Tressler – AL
  4. Susanne Woolley – OK

2021 GMFC Youth Championship

  1. Noah Goebel – KY
  2. Tarquin Bennion – MT
  3. David Lin – KY
  4. Ranelle Dietrich – AZ
  5. Logan Davis – ID

2021 GMFC Accompanist Championship

  1. Anthony Mature – TX
  2. Hyatt Hopkins – TX
  3. Todd Varble – OH
  4. Ray Brandin – LA
  5. Tom Holzen – TN

Live streamed video of both days of competition can be found on the Grand Masters web site, including performances from Riders In The Sky and The Farmer and Adele. Day 1 is here, and Day 2 here.

Congratulations all!

Share this:

About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.