Fiddle-L Anthology 1999

A Tour 'Round The World Of Fiddling

Performer Bio


Larry Brandon, Boise, Idaho (

Larry was born April 8, 1955 in Boise, Idaho. He holds a high school degree and works as a dispatcher for Idaho Power Company.


Larry's heritage is German, Irish, and "various". His parents both came from the Midwest - his Father was born in Missouri and his mother in Kansas. His great grandfather played the fiddle and Larry himself began playing just two years ago. He has taken lessons from Matt Hartz . Pretty Polly is the tune he enjoys the most. He learned it from a jam session tape of Randy Elmore playing at Weiser a few years ago. His favorite fiddlers are Matt Hartz, Joey McKenzie (a fellow Anthology participant), and Pete Martin.


In response to the question, "what kinds of tunes do you play in addition to hoedowns/reels and waltzes -- e.g. cotillions, jigs, schottisches, marches, strathspeys, airs, two-steps?", Larry replies, "that list pretty much sums them up." He adds that he plays a few tunes in cross tuning. He considers himself mainly a mandolin player and also plays a little guitar. Guitar is his preferred backup for fiddling. Larry enjoys playing his fiddle at jams rather than performing.


Larry truly enjoys attending fiddle contests: "Yes! I go mainly for the campground picking and fun! And I do like to watch the contestants." He may not compete in fiddle contests, but he entered the Columbia Gorge Bluegrass Festival's Mandolin Contest and won first place. He believes it takes a good fiddler to be a good fiddle contest judge.


Larry plays old time and Texas styles; he names "Eck Robertson, and many more" as being earlier influential musicians. Larry believes there are "many, many [fiddling styles] and each genre has its own sub-styles". In his area of Idaho, old time and Texas styles prevail. In the past Larry played in a band but "found that one job was enough. I do a few gigs now but play mostly just for fun."


Larry plays a German Strad copy violin; he describes it as "barky, woody. Could be a little sweeter." He plays with Prim strings, without a shoulder rest, and a Vitali 4 star bow. "I love this bow." He deals in musical instruments, enjoys collecting violins and also does his own maintenance, setup, and repairs, except for bow rehairing. "I took an apprenticeship from the guitar maker John Bolin in 1985 after I had built my first mandolin on my own. Since I have built 13 instruments. All guitars and mandolins.


"I've always loved the sound of the fiddle and play for pure enjoyment."


Larry learned Yew Piney Mountain a couple of months prior to this recording, after hearing Wilson Douglas' rendition on a fiddle sampler CD. "I chose this tune for its title "Yew Piney Mountain". Having spent a lot of time in the Idaho backcountry, its sound to me truly reflects its title. It sounds like a pine tree covered mountain, a little lonely, a little mysterious, with a rough edge and dark enchanting nights. A comment on the Fiddle-L reminded me of it and prompted me to do it. "What would the forest sound like if only the very best birds sang?""