In the tradition of the McFarland Mall Bluegrass and Fiddle Championship and the Black Warrior Fiddle Fest, the Southeastern Fiddle Championship has returned to Tuscaloosa. The date for the 2023 Festival is February 25, 2023. This event, simply known as “the Fiddle Fest,” is held annually on the Martin Campus of Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It is a family friendly atmosphere celebrating the rich sounds of bluegrass and its talented musicians.
Old time music and fiddle music have rich histories in West Alabama. The book With Fiddle and Well-Rosined Bow (Cauthen, Joyce H. University of Alabama Press, 1989) details old-time fiddling in Alabama with fiddlers such as Dix Hollis, A.D. Hamner, A.K. Callahan, Y.Z. Hamilton, Charlie Stripling, E.D. “Monkey” Brown, and Charlie Atkins connected to West Alabama.
Sharon Winters Bounds, of Northport, Alabama, a founding member of the Fiddle Fest committee, has done much to keep the bluegrass tradition alive in West Alabama. After placing in the top ten a total of seven times at the National Grand Masters Championship in Nashville, she has spent her adult life teaching this traditional music style to hundreds of students, young and old alike.
Glenn Taylor serves as the President of the Fiddle Fest Committee and is joined by Channing Marlowe, Kelsey Rush, Sharon Bounds, Phyllis Gamble, Jim Hinton, and Jackie Houston. The goal of this event is to instill a love of traditional music and inspire a new generation of bluegrass and old-time musicians.
The Community Foundation of West Alabama, Shelton State Community College, and the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission work together to make this annual event an exciting part of the Tuscaloosa calendar. Funding comes from various sponsors in the West Alabama community to continue the preservation of this rich part of our musical history.