We’ve enthused several times about Aynsley Porchak, the talented young fiddler with Carolina Blue. This recent graduate of the bluegrass program at East Tennessee State University is an Ontario native, and a professional performer, who won both the US and Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championships before finishing college. This girl can play!
She is a perfect fit with Carolina Blue, with her twin interests in traditional bluegrass fiddle and vintage clothing. In fact, Aynsley calls the style she plays “vintage bluegrass fiddling,” with a strong emphasis on the great masters of the art whose music she has studied since she was young.
So it makes perfect sense that she has embarked on a tune-a-day venture on social media which she is calling, Anysley Plays Kenny. Each day in July, she will post a new video of herself playing a Kenny Baker tune, taken from the former Blue Grass Boy’s deep catalog of both traditional and original music.
Baker, of course, worked with Bill Monroe off and on in a number of different stints from 1957 until 1984. Monroe was so impressed with Baker that he taught him several old tunes that Bill had in his memory from his legendary Uncle Pen Vandiver, who is often credited with being the inspiration for the bluegrass sound Monroe ignited.
Both while he was with Bill, and while he wasn’t, Kenny recorded a series of albums during his hey day which form the canon of bluegrass fiddle. It might be too much to call him the most important and influential fiddler in bluegrass history, but it would be equally difficult to name one better.
And here’s the first video of the series, Aynsley playing an old timer, Growling Old Man and Grumbling Old Woman, accompanied by her current mentor Dan Boner, who heads up the Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music Studies program at ETSU. It’s one Baker recorded in 1977 on his iconic Frost On The Pumpkin album.
Look for a new installment of Anysley Plays Kenny each day on her social media. And while you are on Instagram, be sure to follow Bluegrass Today as well!