The sounds of live acoustic music from "The New Fiddlers," and the contributions a five-string banjo gives to the spirit of that music, makes playing beside the members of this volunteer group a sincere honor and personal pleasure. Watching the audiences as they smile, sing, clap and applaud is payment-in-full for our combined efforts.
I have been fan of bluegrass music since discovering the recordings of The Dillards and Flatt & Scruggs in the mid 1960s; of folk music from Peter, Paul & Mary, The Kingston Trio and The Limelighters; and of the lyrical story telling of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, and John Denver. I carry the memories of many special opportunities to interact with the founders of bluegrass music and masters of the five-string banjo in my heart and, where possible, their autographs on the curly maple wood of the Deseret Banjo, made for me in 1981 by Leonard and Kennard at Intermountain Guitar and Banjo.
On several Thursday evenings the St. George Opera House was the site of our community’s Acoustic Concert Series in 1997. One evening an old bus full of musicians pulled up to the curb. I went into the vehicle and gave the band several boxes of pizza for their dinner. “Thank you son, will you sit with us?” was the invitation. What an honor to shake his hand (very gently) and watch him scribe "Dr. Ralph Stanley" on my banjo.
“Never play the banjo, not even to practice, without your picks”, was guidance given by Earl Scruggs during a bluegrass concert in Columbus, Ohio in ‘98. I was excited to see him sitting at a card table, under a single 100-watt light bulb, strung from a tree behind the tour bus, where he graciously autographed my banjo that night.
Ranch Exit was a St. George-based quintet formed to share our acoustic music with audiences throughout the year and with a special focus around the holiday season. My banjo skills were only rudimentary and, with the understanding and generous support of the group’s members, I was eventually encouraged to step forward to take some breaks during our sets. Not always successful in those efforts, Roland Lee’s prodding and support made it possible to stand proudly with the group and battle through the rough moments to share in the rewards one feels during the applause.
Following several years of performances with Ranch Exit and more than a decade of pick’n with The Utah Old Time Fiddlers and "The New Fiddlers," I am thankful for the relationships with musicians and audiences…and for the opportunity to serve our community.
I think I was born singing. I come from a musical family. I grew up singing in church and at family reunions. Our family formed the band "Live And Well" where I played keyboards and sang.
I started looking for an instrument that was a little more portable than a piano that I could play while singing. I was at a bluegrass festival when I saw my first Autoharp. I had to have one. My husband Bruce has been keeping me supplied ever since.
I joined the Utah Old Time Fiddlers & Country Music Association several years ago. I had a really great time, and met a lot of other talented musicians. The support that "The New Fiddlers" has received has been mind-boggling. This is the most fun I have had in a very long time.
I was born in my Aunt Olive’s house in Fillmore Utah. My parents used to sing in the car while we were traveling with the family. Dad would hit the horn on the off beat while we all sang along. At the age of 12 my sister, who was 16, gave me a ukulele. I played cello in school and also play the harmonica.
I joined the Utah Old Time Fiddlers & Country Music Association one year after they were formed, and currently serve as the Librarian of the Salt Lake Chapter. I also love to play my banjo and sing with "The New Fiddlers."
I was born in Salt Lake City. I grew up singing Everly Brothers and Joan Baez songs with my older sister. My sister had a guitar that she gave to me at the age of 13.
I love Bluegrass and Celtic music. At the age of 58, I got my first fiddle. I served as chairperson for the Salt Lake Chapter of the Utah Old Time Fiddlers & Country Music Association. I love to bring joy to the lives of others through my music as a member of "The New Fiddlers."
George joined "The New Fiddlers" in April of 2012, and is our senior member.
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In Loving Memory...
I was born and raised amid the western traditions of Alberta, Canada, California and Utah. I took piano lessons in my youth and played tuba for six years in school orchestras. I began playing guitar on my own and have been teaching myself to play since I was twelve. My father taught me to play harmonica and I have enjoyed playing with him for most of my life. Professionally, I "practice" law. For enjoyment and self improvement, I "practice" the guitar, tuba, and occasionally the piano. I work diligently at learning to play classical guitar pieces from sheet music.
For about ten years I have been a member of a three-man cowboy band called "The Shiny Boot Boys," which includes Jeff, a cowboy poet and friend of many years, and his son, Roy. We have performed cowboy poetry and music shows at the Utah State Fair and at western arts festivals all over the Mountain West. In 2004 we recorded a CD entitled "Good Ol' Songs." Roy now serves in the Army in Afghanistan and we haven't played much lately. In 2008, my daughter Heidi and I recorded a CD entitled "Acoustic Christmas," consisting of her vocals and my classical guitar arrangements of eight religious Christmas Carols. I still practice the tuba, when no one else is home, and play in a brass choir with four friends from my high school jazz band. Playing and singing music brings me joy. Playing for my beautiful daughters and grandchildren brings me even greater joy. Performing with friends in "The New Fiddlers" is good fun.
I am a home-grown Murrayite, born and raised, and now live on the same street in Murray. I love to play the violin, and have played since I was 8 years old. I played all through school, performing at neat places, and playing in several quartets for weddings and other special occasions. The violin has helped pay for college, and I now teach private lessons. What joy this instrument has brought me, and now my own daughter is following in my footsteps...how cool is that?
It was actually through one of my students that I discovered "The New Fiddlers." It has been so much fun to play with such talented and fun peeps. I have never really "fiddled" before, so it is exciting and new for me. My Mom told me my violin would take me places, and she was right. I have loved every minute.
I started singing when I was about two years old at church events and family reunions. It was difficult to understand what I was singing about, but that didn't matter. My mother gave me an old F-hole guitar she got from her brother, and I dragged that around the house and neighborhood singing and strumming. My Uncle Doug taught me a few guitar chords, and I was on my way.
I started playing with a country bluegrass group called "The Rawhide Singers" while I was attending the University of Utah. We played mostly for church groups, and mostly for free. It was while performing with "The Rawhide Singer" that I met my wife. We were married in June of 1967, and have six children, and 18 grandchildren.
I played for several years in a family band called "Live & Well". Later I formed a country band called "Laredo" and we performed for about 35 years. I was a member of The Utah Old Time Fiddlers & Country Music Association for several years, where I met many talented musicians. Having my own band allows me more freedom to interact with my audiences, which is what "The New Fiddlers" and our music are all about.
I started singing when I was about seven years old in various local singing groups, like "The Younger Generation". I was much too shy to sing solos at that age, but my parent's recognized that there was untapped potential there that needed to be shared. My Dad encouraged me to sing a solo at a County Fair when I was 8 years old, and I decided to perform my favorite song at the time which was, "Could I Have This Dance" by Anne Murray. I was immediately addicted to the applause and attention and started sharing my talents more often.
I sang in school choirs throughout Junior High and High School and was part of the Madrigals my Senior Year at Granger High. I was asked to perform "Dreams to Dream" by Linda Ronstadt at our school's Senior Assembly prior to graduation. In 1993 I continued on to Snow College where I performed with the Institute of Religion's LDSingers for 2 years. After graduating from Snow, I transferred to the University of Utah in 1995 and sang with The Institute of Religion's "Encore Show" Choir for 3 years. We toured to Seattle, New Mexico, and Colorado during that time.
After finishing college, I didn't want to stop performing, so I looked for opportunities wherever I could. In addition to singing with a local R&B Funk Cover Band, I also DJ'ed Karaoke for many years, and I spent almost two years working part time for a singing telegram company. Out of all my gigs, I have always enjoyed singing with my Dad the most, so when I was asked to share my talents as part of “The New Fiddlers” I jumped at the opportunity. I love that the audiences we perform for are always the most appreciative and gracious.
Music was always a part of our lives. While growing up my mother would sing family favorites like "Down by the Old Mill Stream," "Man on the Flying Trapeze," and "The Little Brown Church in the Wildwood." My dad was a violinist. At Christmas time he would always play his violin while caroling to widows and shut-ins with the Murray Utah LDS Stake High Council.
My first public singing performance was as a quartet when I was still in elementary school. I sang with two of my cousins, LaVar and Darrell Swensen, and my brother Steven Snarr. We wore flat-brimmed straw “basher” hats, white shirts with red bow ties and sang “Heart of my Heart” at the Midvale Odd Fellows Hall.
In Junior High I began playing the cornet, but then switched to French horn. During my early teens I used my cornet to play “Taps” for military veterans at their graveside services. After high school I joined the University of Utah Marching Band playing the Alto Horn.
I didn’t begin playing banjo until my last year of high school. I attended Murray High School. During my junior year my friends Rohn Harmer, Brent Bennion and I sang on the junior class assembly. As a trio, we sang the song “When I Fall in Love.” We were dressed up as knights in shining armor. We thought we were pretty good.
Prior to my senior year of High School in 1960 I learned to play the tenor banjo. I bought a used four string banjo and tuned it like a tenor guitar (DGBE) and learned a few Kingston Trio songs. I played and sang with my friends Rohn Harmer (guitar) and Brent Bennion (banjo & upright bass). This led to my interest in folk music and a desire to learn to play the five-string banjo and the guitar.
After learning the five-string banjo, I converted my four-string tenor banjo to a five-string by carving a new customized and scrolled five-string banjo neck. This is the banjo I continue to play to this day.
Following my LDS Mission to South Africa, I resumed my studies at the University of Utah and received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Geography. Professionally, I served as a planning consultant, City Planner, and Economic Development Director for the cities of Murray, West Jordan, South Jordan and Taylorsville, Utah. I retired in 2011 to help care for my wife Karen who had MS (Multiple Sclerosis). Karen passed away in December 2019, and now I spend more time playing with "The New Fiddlers."
More than 50 years ago I was a founding member of the "Rawhide Singers," along with Terry McClellan, Bruce Reading, “Hap” Stephens and David Taylor. The "Rawhide Singers" repertoire included folk, bluegrass and a variety of old time and popular songs.
When first married I was teaching banjo and guitar to over 60 students per week while attending the University of Utah. In 1969 I was invited (drafted) to join the US Army and went to OCS (Officer’s Candidate School) before serving as an Infantry Officer in Vietnam.
My wife Karen and I have always enjoyed music in our lives. When dating, many of our dates were to singing gigs with the "Rawhide Singers," the folk and bluegrass group that have continued to be our lifelong friends. As our five children came, Karen would sing to them songs like “It’s A Sin to Tell A Lie” and “You Are My Sunshine.”
Karen and I enjoyed singing together. Although shy in her younger years, Karen had a beautiful soprano singing voice. Some of our favorite songs were “The Hammer Song,” “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” and “Gotta Travel On.” I like to dedicate the song “A Good Woman’s Love” to her when I sing.
I have now begun to play mandolin, and I am currently starting to learn to play the Dobro guitar. I really enjoy playing with "The New Fiddlers." They are great musicians, singing great old-time music, and having lots of fun.
(April 19, 1915 -- February 5, 2013)
I was born in Fillmore, Utah, the youngest of five children. I grew up participating in musical activities. Family home evenings were really special in our home. My father sang and Mother played the piano. They were very anxious that all of us have musical training, so at the age of seven I began taking violin lessons. I remember the distinctive fragrance of my violin, and how important I felt as I learned to play.
Mr. Braithwaite, the head of the music department at Millard High School was my first teacher. Mr. Moffit replaced him at the school, and became my second teacher. When I was twelve, I started studying with John G. Hilgendorff, who had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Germany, and had come to live in Delta, Utah. He traveled to the different towns in the area to provide violin instruction to those who were interested in learning. My mother arranged for him to use our parlor as his studio. She was willing to listen to all the screechy sounds that beginning violin students make, in exchange for my lessons. Because I was one of the youngest of his students, and could play with good rhythm and tone, he took me to perform at the recitals he gave in other parts of the county.
My senior year at Millard High School, I won first place in the violin competition held for the high schools of central and southern Utah. The prize was a one-year scholarship to the Branch Agricultural College, now University of Southern Utah. With my main classes, I took Music Theory and Composition, and continued my violin lessons from Roy H. Halverson. I auditioned with LeRoy Robertson, head of the music department at Brigham Young University, planning to attend the following winter. My plans were changed during the summer because Eldon and I decided to be married the following December.
After Eldon and I moved to Salt Lake City, I played 1st violin in the McCune School of Music Symphony Orchestra, which preceded the Utah Symphony Orchestra. I also sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for eighteen years. When Eldon retired, we spent our winters in Arizona. I met a fiddler from Canada who asked me if I would teach him to read music. I agreed, on condition that he teach me to play "fiddle". He provided me with copies of some fiddle tunes, and gave me some helpful advice. I joined The Arizona Old Time Fiddlers and enjoyed very much the good times we had. I have been a member of the Salt Lake Chapter of The Utah Old Time Fiddlers & Country Music Association for many years, and enjoy the many friendships and wonderful memories.
(Olive retired from "The New Fiddlers" in October of 2012, and passed away February 5th, 2013. She would have been 98 in April of 2013. Some of her favorite tunes were: Jesse Polka, Irish Washer Woman, Ashokan Farewell, Martin's Waltz, Ragtime Annie, Maggie, and many more. Olive also performed with several other groups, including the Murray City Senior Citizen Band, and the Second Story Band. She had so much enthusiasm for her music, and was an inspiration to all of us. We miss her very much.)
(From the Salt Lake Tribune, February 10, 2013)
Meredith Olive Brunson Partridge was born on April 19, 1915 in Fillmore, Utah to Charles Abraham and Christina Fackrell Brunson and died on February 5, 2013 at home in South Salt Lake City, Utah.
Olive was the youngest of five siblings. All preceded her in death. She grew up in Fillmore and attended schools there. She attained excellent scholastic achievement and earned the honor of being the valedictorian of her high school graduating class. She attended the Branch Agricultural College in Cedar City, Utah, now Southern Utah University, on a music scholarship. Olive knew a handsome older boy in town named Eldon Edward Partridge. They were both called to serve the young men and women in their ward and during this close association they fell in love. Olive didn't return to school and instead she and Eldon were married on December 21, 1934 in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple. They, like all, young adults at that time, struggled through the depression, Eldon worked several different jobs and Olive supported him at home. They moved a couple of times, ending up in Salt Lake City on November 30, 1941, just one week before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Olive and Eldon's first two children, Kent (Ellen) and Celia (Micheal LeRoy) were born in Fillmore, and after they moved to Salt Lake City, they were blessed with three more, Scott (Jeanie), Ruth (Paul Palmer), and Lyle (Sara), all surviving. Olive is also survived by 19 grandchildren, 30 great grandchildren and five great great grandchildren.
Olive was a devout and faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She held many leadership, teaching, and musical callings in her Ward and Stake. Olive grew up in a musical family and began playing the violin at age seven. She also learned to play the piano with the help of her mother. She received many awards and acclamations for her prowess with the violin and performed with orchestras, dance bands and various other groups. Olive played first violin in the McCune Symphony Orchestra which preceded the Utah Symphony Orchestra. She also sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. After Olive and Eldon retired they began traveling and bought a home in Mesa, Arizona, spending many winters in the warm desert before moving back to Salt Lake City year round in 1998. Eldon died on November 21, later that year. Olive had become interested in Old Time Fiddling in Arizona and, true to form, became an excellent fiddler winning awards and championships and helping others perfect their fiddling techniques. She performed with fiddling groups until just a very few months before her death. Her music has provided great enjoyment and brought Olive countless dear friends and fans. Olive was loved and pampered by many.
Her children would especially like to thank her niece, Kathryn Goates, who for many years made sure that Olive was able to participate in musical events and practices, her grandniece Jennifer Hammond who visited often to play lively piano and piano-violin duets, Intermountain Hospice for their essential support and kindness and the young men of the Riviera Ward who faithfully and cheerfully brought and administered the Sacrament to Olive at home every Sunday. Bishop and Sister Jenne were loved dearly by Olive and showed her their love in return. She had more remarkable friends than we could possibly thank properly, but please know that we love and appreciate you more than words can say. Thank you all.
(Interment, Holladay Memorial Park, 4900 South Memory Lane, Holladay, Utah.)
(September 1, 1928 -- December 1, 2018)
I was born September 1, 1928 in Murray, Utah, one of three brothers (both are now deceased). I attended Blaine Jr. High and Granite High School. My father taught me to play tenor guitar and mandolin at about 9 years of age. Being rather rebellious, at fifteen I ran away and joined the Navy. In 1944, after 4 months and 9 days, I was discharged, but rejoined the Navy at age 17, and served aboard three ships in the China and Japan area. I was discharged from the Navy in 1948, and went to Westminster College for 2 years, where I played football and track. I joined the Utah Highway Patrol at age 23, serving in Tooele and Utah Counties. I left UHP, and worked several years for Cobalt Refinery near Black Rock. I then had the opportunity to work for George Beckstead, the Salt Lake County Sheriff. I worked at the sheriff's office for 28 years, working all squads of the detective division. I also had one year of service in the Salt Lake County Jail. I retired in 1988.
I married Elaine in 1950. We had 7 children...4 boys and 3 girls. During the years we have lost 3 of our sons. We have 2 sons-in-law, 6 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren. I have truly enjoyed playing with "The New Fiddlers," and treasure my association with the other members.
(Parley retired from "The New Fiddlers" in November of 2014, and passed away December 1st, 2018 at the age of 90. We miss him very much.)
(From Valley View Memorial Park & Funeral Home, West Valley City, Utah, December 4th, 2018)
Parley Blight, part of the “Greatest Generation”, peacefully passed away at home on December 1st, 2018 at the age of 90 years. He was born September 1st, 1928 in Murray, Utah to Emma Carsey and William C. Blight. He grew up with his brothers Vern and Gayson (Red) near 3300 S. State during the Depression. He attended Blaine Jr High and Granite High, until he ran away from home at the age of 15 to join the Navy during World War II. Once his age was discovered he was shipped back home, but rejoined when he turned 17, serving for two years in the Pacific in the area of China and Japan on the USS Jason.
Parley married Elaine Williams in 1950, and they immediately started their family together. He attended Westminster College for two years, where he played football and track. In his early years, Parley worked at the Cobalt refinery in Black Rock, the docks of PIE Truck Lines and the Utah Highway Patrol. He tried his hand as a restaurant owner and a butcher shop owner, and finally began his career with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Department, where he retired as Sergeant after 28 years of service.
Parley had many adventures throughout the years. He went treasure hunting for gold in Mexico with his brother Red, he fixed up and rode old motorcycles and owned several horses. He trained his German Shorthair Pointer “Lady” to win the Utah State Field Trials pheasant hunting championship. Parley enjoyed sailing with his family on the Great Salt Lake in his boat “Breezy Rider”. He loved fishing and camping, and he especially loved exploring the west deserts with Elaine and their good friends James and Terry Bird.
Parley wrote songs and poetry, and was a very talented musician, particularly on the mandolin. He was a member of the Utah Old Time Fiddlers, as well as "The New Fiddlers" group. He performed in hundreds of shows over the years at various venues throughout the state.
Parley was preceded in death by his parents and brothers; three sons, Mark, Doug, and Brian, and sons-in-law Les and Dennis. He is survived by his sweetheart of 68 years Elaine, his children Karen Greer, Kathy Gordon, Lauren (Terry) Christensen and Vince Blight; his six grandchildren Beau Gordon (Brenda), Brett Gordon (Kristy), Starr Kocherhans (Tim), Ryan Christensen, Shane Orton, Maya Silva (Sinai) and six great grandchildren.