James Bryan

James Bryan is considered by many to be the best traditional Southern fiddler playing today. Born in 1953 and raised in Boaz, Alabama, James began playing fiddle at the age of eleven. He was encouraged by his father Joe Bryan who played guitar, taught James his first tunes, and introduced him to area fiddlers such as Monk Daniels and members of the Johnson family. He learned tunes from local repertoires as well as bluegrass tunes from master fiddler Kenny Baker; who accepted Bryan as an apprentice. He won his first fiddlers' convention at the age of twelve. James and his father played at local radio stations, dances, and fiddle conventions. In 1970, at the age of sixteen, James won the title of Fiddle King at the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddler's Convention in Athens Alabama. Three years later in 1973 he won it again. In 2011, James received the prestigious Alabama Folk Heritage award for his lifetime of fiddling.

James has recorded two solo albums on the Rounder label and many more with Norman and Nancy Blake as the Rising Fawn String Ensemble. He plays Southern old-time and bluegrass tunes learned by ear as well as vintage tunes from New England and Britain, many collected from rare old tune books or “gleaned” from his extensive knowledge and archive of old 78 rpm records.

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