Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fabulous Fiddler Elmer Rich

     Most every Friday night at the Westover Senior Center, a group of old-time musicians gets together and puts together a wonderful display of old time fiddle music.  Most of the time, Elmer Rich leads the group.  Now, Elmer is a most interesting fellow.  Who among your friends was given an award by Eleanor Roosevelt?  Well this halppened to Elmer when he did well at a fiddle contest back in 1936.  Since then, he has won an incredible number of awards and accolades, and is known throughout Appalachia and America as wonderful musician and warm human being. 

Note:  if you learn to play rock guitar as well as Elmer learned the mountain fiddle, you get a recording contract for about a zillion dollars.  It's a pity that the mountain fiddle is not as well appreciated.  But it is a distinctly American instrument and sound, and nobody does it better than Elmer.

The first time I sat down with this group, I figured that I was home.  This is really something I want to do for the rest of my life.  I want to be surrounded by friendly people, carrying on our American traditions and passing them down to our kids.  I've got a renewed interest in improving my abilty to play the mandolin and other instruments. 

It's not that I expect to necessarily live as long or as well as Elmer, but that's really not the point.   The point is that for every day we are given on this Earth, we are blessed to be able to share it with others, and making music is one of the best ways to do that, for however long we are around. 

Thanks, Elmer, for being the unofficial King of Appalachian music.  I'm going to enjoy the rest of my musical journey, inspired by people like you.


  1. Great write up on Elmer. He's jsut simply inspiring. Through his fiddle he proves that you're never to old to do what you love.

  2. Hi there Mr. Nichols. Yes, he is inspiring all right. I don't intend to reach the heights that Elmer has (being acclaimed the top fiddler in our state for lo the past 70 or so years), but I am going to enjoy simple ways to make good sounds with my humble mandolin...and happy to see you when you join in as well.

  3. Elmer Rich is my great uncle. If you get to see the video of him playing for Eleanor Roosevelt you will also see my great grandfather, grandfather & another great uncle. In great uncle Elmer's younger days he was able to play the fiddle behind his back, above his head & between his legs. It is a pleasure to watch him play. He's been doing it all his life.