Fiddlers of Madison County, March 12

Arvil Freeman is one of the most beloved fiddle teachers in Western North Carolina.  At 83 years old, he is still playing and teaching his heart out. Photo by Hannah Furgiuele
Arvil Freeman is one of the most beloved fiddle teachers in Western North Carolina. At 83 years old, he is still playing and teaching his heart out. Photo by Hannah Furgiuele


The 10th Annual Fiddlers of Madison County
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Two shows
3:00 and 7:30 p.m.
$20 advance $25 Day of Show
more information at: (828)649-1301

For centuries, literally, folks have been following The French Broad River into Madison County to hear the finest in traditional music. Cecil Sharp found ballad singers in Hot Springs, Bascom Lamar Lunsford searched over the hills and hollers for banjo players and buck dancers, and anyone having a house party or a barn dance was hunting up a fiddler to liven up the festivities. This tradition continues every spring in downtown Marshall where our finest fiddlers come together for a concert to benefit The Madison County Arts Council. On March 12, old favorites and new faces join together in jam packed performances of old-time tunes, Bluegrass classics, sweet harmonies, and family togetherness.

“This year we want to honor master fiddler, Arvil Freeman,” remarked Laura Boosinger, Executive Director of The Madison County Arts Council. “We have missed Arvil the last two years and want to give him the opportunity to step forward and shine.” Arvil will be accompanied by The Midnight Plowboys. Members of the band have been playing with Arvil for over four decades. Brian Hunter, founder of the band, remembers “In the early 1950s, Arvil Freeman became a teen sensation while fiddling with The Sauceman Brothers on WCYB radio in Bristol, VA.  The station was just across the state line from Arvil’s home in Madison County, NC, and the signal could be heard over much of the NC mountains.  And ever since those days, Arvil’s unique long-bow style and focused attack have made him the undisputed “bull of the woods” among western NC traditional mountain fiddlers!” Mike Hunter, well known as the mandolin player at Bill Stanleys BBQ and Bluegrass, began learning from Arvil at a young age. “I first met Arvil at jam sessions at Ralph Lewis’ house.  I was about 18 at the time and I had a lot to learn. Arvil would always pull me aside after the group was finished picking and work with me one-on-one, showing me what I’d done wrong, going over the notes I’d missed, etc.  I didn’t ask him to do this, he just did it because he wanted to help me.  Nobody else spent the time with me that Arvil did, and consequently, I learned more from Arvil over the years than from anyone else.”

Arvil’s impact on the fiddling community will certainly be showcased at The Fiddlers of Madison County. Several of the fiddlers have been students of Arvil’s including Kathryn Parham Brickey, Emma McDowell Best and 12 year old fiddler, Lillian Chase. Also featured on the program will be Roger Howell, Ralph Lewis and The Sons of Ralph with Susi Gott and The Owen Family Band.

“Folks start asking us in January about our Fiddler’s show? Ticket sales are already brisk and we know we can hardly get everyone in the doors to hear all of this music. Last year was standing room only,” said Boosinger. Two shows will commence, one at 3:00 and the next at 7:30 pm at The Madison County Arts Center, 90 South Main Street, Marshall, NC.
Tickets are available by calling (828) 649-1301
or on-line at

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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