Let me take you on a trip. A trip to Guthrie, to Byron Berline’s Double Stop Fiddle Shop, which burned February 23, 2019. The devastation hit the fiddle community with full force, much like an F5 tornado, leaving everything in cinders and ash. As we all know, there were a few treasures saved from the fire, such as his Loar mandolin, and several other items. Fans, the state of Oklahoma, and the nation all stepped up to assist Byron in his loss, and he has reopened in a new location a short distance away.
But the soul of the original Fiddle Shop still lives on and is played daily. However, I found a professional violinist who purchased that “the last soul,” and recently gathered a little more detail from the new owner and from Byron.
The hunt actually began in 2018 for Danielle Szabo when she first drove into Guthrie to scour the Double Stop Fiddle Shop for her perfect instrument. After many trips, Danielle went back on February 22, 2019. Szabo, a violin instructor and Oklahoma City University graduate, told us, “Money was an issue, as I was paying for my soon to be wedding.”
That Friday, Danielle made one more stop to search for her violin. Berline was familiar with Szabo by this time, and knew exactly what she was looking for. Byron walked into the backroom, and came back out carrying an instrument he had pulled from the glass counter. This “fine lady” was covered in dust, and as Byron took a deep breath and blew the dust off the strings, he gracefully handed this “last soul” over to Szabo.
Berline reminisced with me… “I had this fiddle in the back. It had been there quite a while, with no interest. Danielle had been in several times, and we just couldn’t find the perfect fit. I thought of this one, and I blew the dust off of it.” From the moment that Danielle placed her hands around the neck of the instrument, she quickly fell in love, as the shape of the violin was very feminine in its curves. However; there was no turning back once she took the bow and heard the sweetest sounds. She knew THIS was it, the violin that she had been searching for.
But there was still an obstacle, the money. As she handed the violin back to Berline while her heart hungered for it be hers, she said, “After the wedding, I will come back and get it.” The next few moments were like a dream come true. Berline took the violin, gently placing it in the case, “Take it with you. You can pay me whenever you can.” In a rare, once in a lifetime moment, Danielle Szabo walked out of the Double Stop Fiddle Shop that Friday violin in hand, and a mere 24 hours later the Shop lay in ashes in the little Victorian town of Guthrie, OK.
Szabo can be heard on stage with the Oklahoma Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra where she is a violinist. She is also a violin instructor who shows the versatility in her playing by expertly switching genres with Clifftop, an Americana/bluegrass crossover band, and an all girl bluegrass band as well.
At Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival, Szabo could be found in a circle jam every evening. Sharing her talents, not only as a virtuoso violinist, but as an outstanding vocalist. This is one young lady every music lover needs to keep in their sight. I had known about this secret of her playing the unpaid-for violin, and at her request, I held back from writing. Now that the receipt is in hand, I can say, While the Double Stop Fiddle Shop now has a new home (just down the block), the last old soul from the original store continues to bless all with the extraordinary sounds it exemplifies.