The Fiddler of the Century

National Traditional Country Music Association selects Clayton McMichen as the top influence in music.

| July 31, 2009

  • Playing at a street fair.
    Playing at a street fair. Sinclair
  • A fiddler performing at a concert.
    A fiddler performing at an open-air concert. Velasco
  • Taking a closer look at a fiddler at work.
    Taking a closer look at a fiddler at work. Oner

  • Playing at a street fair.
  • A fiddler performing at a concert.
  • Taking a closer look at a fiddler at work.

LeMars, Iowa – "Clayton McMichen was one of those old-time fiddlers that pushed the envelope in just about everything he did.  He was years before his time, and he expanded interest and admiration for fiddle music more than just about any other fiddler in America," says Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association. 

McMichen will be honored as "Fiddler of the Century" at the annual meeting of the association during the 34th National Old-Time Music Festival August 31-September 6 in LeMars, Iowa.  Attending the event will be McMichen's daughter, Juanita, to accept the honor. 

The festival was created as an American Bicentennial event to foster interest and admiration for America's 'rural' musical art forms, specifically in the upper Midwest.

A plaque in McMichen's honor will be placed in the America's Old Time Fiddlers Hall of Fame at the Pioneer Music Museum in Anita, Iowa.  "There are more than 100 fiddles and nearly 200 fiddlers in this particular Hall of Fame," Everhart says, "and we are quite proud and happy to announce Clayton McMichen as the ‘Fiddler of the Century.’  We also have a fiddle contest at our festival; all are encouraged to participate at whatever level they feel comfortable.

"What's also interesting about this event is the fact that one of Clayton's close musicians, Slim Bryant, is still alive, and at the age of 100, is contemplating attending to honor his old friend and music-making partner.  Mr. Bryant still teaches guitar, the instrument he played with McMichen."

According to Everhart, McMichen was one of the major figures in early hillbilly and country music of the 1920s and ’30s, but his 'direction' was somewhat different than most musicians of that time period. 

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