I think of Byron Berline as the heir to the mantle of Eck Robertson and Benny Thomasson, two of the greatest champion fiddlers from Texas, where Byron was raised. He now lives in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where he owns the Double Stop Music Shop, and he plans to bring a carload of fiddles (and maybe some other instruments too) with him to Fiddle Tunes, and they will be for sale. You can ask him to try them out for you, and have a chance to buy a fiddle pre-loaded with some of the best bluegrass fiddling ever!
Byron’s list of credits is so long it’s mind-boggling – he’s the only fiddler, living or dead, who has recorded with both Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music, and the Rolling Stones, spawn of the devil. Several of his original tunes, “Gold Rush” and “Cherokee”, have become staples of bluegrass repertoire. His playing is smooth, but has plenty of grit, and swings like crazy. Whether playing a dance tune like Ragtime Annie or improvising on a more modern tune, he always seems like he’s serving the music, as opposed to just showing how hot he can play, and that is an attribute that I greatly admire, especially when found in a fiddler who clearly has the chops to play anything.
Here is Byron Berline fiddling Arthur Smith’s classic tune Peacock Rag:
- Suzy Thompson