“We mourn the passing of Paul David Smith (pictured, with Jimmy McCown, from Fiddle Tunes 2011), master Kentucky fiddler and Southern gentleman, who was on the Fiddle Tunes faculty several times, including this past summer. He had a wonderful storehouse of old-time Kentucky tunes which he loved to share, and he also loved playing the tunes of Arthur Smith. Like all true Southern gentlemen, he treated everyone with the utmost courtesy regardless of the setting, or of how he might be feeling himself. We knew that he was not in good health; that’s one reason his brothers, Gary and Jerry, came with him to Fiddle Tunes. Being around the three brothers was a joy; they were always ready to party! From Fiddle Tunes, they embarked on a road trip and you knew they were going to have a wonderful time just laughing, cracking jokes and enjoying their time together in that way that only siblings do.
In his gentle way, I think Paul was preparing to go – using his last months to share music and good times with as many people as possible, and to spend time with his brothers. I’m glad that Fiddle Tunes provided an opportunity for him to do both things and I know he really enjoyed being with us. During his last summer, he taught at three different music camps (Swannanoa, Augusta, and Fiddle Tunes), went on that road trip with his brothers, and jammed at Clifftop, where he did a master class. A few weeks later, he passed peacefully, at home, surrounded by family.
People sometimes talk to me with suggestions about possible Fiddle Tunes faculty. Sometimes they urge me to have more young people on faculty, and I do strive for some kind of balance. But I will say that I value the old folks in a different way than the young hotshots. They are our connection with the roots of the music – a link in a chain that goes back farther than we know. Paul David Smith was a shining link in that chain.”
Suzy Thompson, Artistic Director
The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes