Little Fiddle On the Prairie

On Jan 6, artists from many genres will come together at the Loveless Barn in Nashville, TN, to celebrate an unsung American fiddle hero, Charles Ingalls.

Yes, that Charles Ingalls, father of Laura Ingalls-Wilder. It is a widely known, but often forgotten fact that Mr. Ingalls played the fiddle. In her Little House on the Prairie books, Mrs. Wilder documents what songs her father played, where he played them, and why he picked those tunes. This makes him one of the most well documented American fiddlers in the 19th century.

The concert this week will feature songs from the album Pa’s Fiddle: Charles Ingalls, American Fiddler, the brain-child of Vanderbilt University Musicology professor, Dale Cockrell. After reading the Little House on the Prairie books to his son, Cockrell felt that the stories seemed incomplete without a soundtrack of the fiddle music.

Featured performers at the show will include: Randy Travis, Rodney Atkins, Ronnie Milsap, Ashton Shepherd, Natalie Grant, and Sing Off champions Committed. The house string band for the concert will feature Matt Combs, Dennis Crouch, Chad Cromwell, Hoot Hester, and Shad Cobb, and will directed by none other than Randy Scruggs. The show will be taped in front of a live audience, set to air during PBS pledge drives in June.

The album itself had three producers, Cockrell, Joe Weed, and fiddler Matt Combs. The musicians on the recording include a who’s who of acoustic music: Matt Combs, Weed, Dennis Crouch, Matt Flinner, Shad Cobb, Buddy Greene, Bryan Sutton, Jeff Taylor, Derek Jones, and David Grier. The album is available for pre-release on Cockrell’s website, and will be officially released on June 5th.

This recording is the third in a series of projects to feature music from the writings of Laura Ingalls-Wilder. It is an interesting footnote to American history and literature. I can just hear Pa’s fiddle ringing throughout the hills of Walnut Grove!

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About the Author

Troy Engle

Troy Engle is studio musician, singer, and songwriter living in Nashville, TN. He has toured or recorded with Patty Loveless, The Isaacs, Michael Martin Murphey, Larry Sparks, and many other bluegrass and country artists. He is also the owner of, which provides quality acoustic instrument tracks for recording artists and studios.