Grand Master Fiddle champion named

Winner Tristan Clarridge (sixth from left) pauses with the other top nine fiddlers in the country from left Tashina Clarridge; Kimber Ludiker; Ed Carnes, Grand Master Fiddler Championship vice president; Troy   Gibson, TAGG Violins representative; Luke Price; James Schlender; Wes Westmoreland; Howard Harris, GMFC president; Michael Barnett; Alex DePue; Miya Saito; Joel Whittinghill; and Crystal Plohman GMFC director; following the awards presentation Oct. 4. (Photo: Randall Franks)One part of the IBMA Fan Fest programme that didn’t go according to plan was the presentation of the 2008 Grand Master Fiddle Champion during the Saturday evening sets (October 4). Well the management does tell us that all acts and times are subject to change without notice.

So, no matter how keen I was to find out who won, I wasn’t able to enjoy some champion fiddling at the time.

A couple of days ago I received a very welcome note from the competition’s co-host, actor/entertainer Randy Franks revealing all, so to speak.

In what has been described as, “Our strongest field of contestants yet”, by Howard Harris, president of the Grand Master Fiddler Championship, Tristan Clarridge of Redding, California, came away with the top prize. Tristan is currently touring as a member of Crooked Still, on cello.

Competing against challengers from all across the U.S., Canada, the Czech Republic, Netherlands and Australia, Clarridge won $2,000 in cash, a $3,200 TAGG violin as well as the bronze Grand Master Fiddler statuette. This was his second championship win, having also won two years ago.

Clarridge’s sister, Tashina earned second place, winning $1,500 and a plaque. This was the fourth consecutive occasion on which she has taken second place.

The third place prize was won by Kimber Ludiker of Spokane, Washington.

A former first place winner of the Grand Master Fiddler title is Jimmy Mattingly, the original fiddle player with The Grascals.

During the course of the first day in the two-day event the Nashville Open Senior (60 years and over) Fiddle championship was decided. The first place winner was John Melnichuk of Washington, with Lorraine Porter, Edward Brown and Fred Sullivan, all of Tennessee, taking the runners up prizes.

The judges were Laura Cash, Danita Gardner, Jeff Pritchard, Bobby Taylor and Wade Stockton.

Also, veteran fiddler and U.S. Senator Robert C Byrd of West Virginia was presented with the Dr. Perry F. Harris Award for his work in preserving and promoting the art of fiddling.

For more information visit the Grand Masters web site.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.