Judges for the 2019 Competition

Ketch Secor  (Traditional only)

Ketch Secor is a fiddle player and founding member of the Grammy award winning group Old Crow Medicine Show.  The band, whose sound is heavily influenced by old time and Appalachian music, has received many honors since it was founded in 1998. They  became Grand Ole Opry members in 2013, and have received two Grammy's, including one for "Best Folk Album" in 2015. Their recording of the song "Wagon Wheel", which was co-written by Secor and Bob Dylan, sold over 1,000,000 copies and received Platinum certification in 2013.  The song was covered by various artists, including Darius Rucker, whose release reached triple Platinum status in 2014. 


Trustin Baker

Trustin Baker lives in Birchtree, MO and is a member of The Baker Family, a high energy bluegrass band located in south central Missouri who are frequently seen on RFD-TV. Some of his awards include:


2017, 2016, 2015 Runner-up Grand Master Fiddler Open Champion

2018 Great Lakes Fiddle Champion

2017 Tennessee State Grand Champion

2016 Arkansas State Champion

2016 Texas State "Gone to Texas" Champion

2015 Tennessee State Grand Champion fiddler

2015 Arkansas State Champion

2014 Oklahoma Jr.. State fiddle champion

2013 Grand Master Fiddler Youth Champion

2011-2014 Missouri Jr. State Champion

2012 Texas freshman State Champion

2011-2012 Arkansas Jr State fiddle champion


Shawn Howe


Shawn Howe is a native of Miami, OK and has been playing the fiddle since he was seven years old.  His Dad Donnie started him off on and then he began to learn contest fiddling from Monte Gaylord, Ace Sewell, and Jimmy Don Bates. 


Shawn is the youngest ever Oklahoma State Fiddle Champion, first winning at age 13, and then later winning it again.  He won the Junior World Championship and later the World Championship at Crockett TX.  He is a two-time Grand Lake Fiddle Champion and won the Mid-America Fiddle Championship at Branson.


Shawn is an insurance broker and lives in Welch, OK with his wife Marnie and his two children, Rhett and Alidale. He spends his time musically as a member of the Bob Wills Original Texas Playboys and the Dewayne Bowman and Swinging West band.


Larry Franklin


Larry Franklin grew up on a farm in Whitewright, Texas and began playing the fiddle when he was seven years old under the guidance of his father, Louis Franklin. Louis and his Uncle, Major Franklin, are legends in the world of Texas Style Fiddling and they were the ones Larry first learned to emulate. Larry eventually won most every fiddler’s contest in the state of Texas including the World Championship when he was l6 years old.


He began honing his chops with dance bands in high school and after a 3-year stint in the Army went on to co-found “The Cooder Browne Band”. They were signed by Willie Nelson to his label “Lone Star Records” and toured with Willie and released one album. After that Larry led “The Larry Franklin Band” across the country entertaining everyone with his brand of fiddle music. He went on to perform with “Asleep At The Wheel” for seven years, receiving two Grammies for Instrumental of the Year. The first in 1987 for String of Pars, a song he co-wrote, and again in 1988 for Sugarfoot Rag. They won again in 1999 with Bob’s Breakdowns on the Ride With Bob tribute album to Bob Wills featuring Larry, Vince Gill, Steve Wariner and Tommy Alsup, bringing his Grammy total to three! His style has grown from the diverse influences of Texas contest fiddling to embrace Country, Blues, Rock & Roll, Jazz and Western Swing.


He moved to Nashville in 1991 and began his career as a session musician and has performed on hundreds of hit records as you’ll see in his Discography. He currently resides in Brentwood, TN with his wife Donna. He continues to play on recording sessions and performs each Monday night with the Time Jumpers at “3rd & Lindsley” a night club in Nashville. The Time Jumpers are an 11-piece Western Swing/Country Group comprised of a group of very elite musicians and singers and features the 3 fiddles played by Kenny Sears, Joe Spivey and Larry.


He plans to continue recording and releasing his own albums. He has a home studio that doubles as a place to work on his songs as well as projects for other Artists and Songwriters


Tyler Andal


Known for his rhythmic prowess and “chopping” technique, Tyler Andal is one of old-time music’s most exciting and innovative fiddle players.


An original member of Futureman's ‘Black Mozart Ensemble & Circle of Harmony Orchestra Project’ and a multi-instrumentalist, Andal has held the title of Grand Master Traditional Fiddle Champion 4 times and National Clawhammer Banjo Champion 3 times.


In addition to performing and recording, he has studied and trained extensively as a violin luthier and bow maker and is head of bow restoration at The Violin Shop in Nashville, TN. www.theviolinshop.com


Bobby Taylor


Bobby Taylor is a fourth generation West Virginia fiddler. He plays several styles of old-time and contest fiddling, but got his early start from the legendary Clark Kessinger, who influenced a world of fiddlers. He has a melting pot of old-time fiddle styles including the styles of his father Lincoln Taylor (1911-1995), Ed Haley, Mike Humphreys, Benny Thomasson, Reece B. Jarvis, Doc Roberts, French Carpenter and scores of others to name a few. He was the 1977 West Virginia State Open Fiddle Champion. In 2003, Bobby received the FOOTBRIDGE AWARD. This award was presented by FOOTMAD (Friends of Old-Time Music and Dance) for his contributions to old-time music. Bobby was presented The 2010 VANDALIA AWARD by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. The Vandalia award is West Virginia’s highest folk-life honor. When fiddle enthusiast West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd passed away in July of 2010, Bobby was honored to be chosen to play Senator Byrd’s favorite fiddle tunes during the public visitation in the West Virginia Capitol Rotunda, and for the official memorial service. Bobby was also requested by the Byrd family to play for the private funeral services. He was inducted into the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair Hall of Fame in Ripley, WV in July of 2012 for his musical contributions to the State of West Virginia.  


Bobby has been the coordinator of West Virginia's Vandalia Gathering contests at the State Capitol in Charleston since 1979. He was the contest coordinator of the Appalachian Open Contest from 1984 through 1987, and he has been the contest coordinator of the Appalachian String Band Music Festival contest since 1990. All of these events are sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Bobby recently retired after serving for many years as the Library Manager of the West Virginia Archives and History Library Section of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.


Bobby has judged the Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia state championships, and is a regular judge at the Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax, Virginia. He has judged the Grand Master Fiddle Championship in Nashville, TN since 2006 to present. He was selected to judge the 2007, 2010 and 2012 Western Open Fiddle Championship in Red Bluff, CA. He was a judge at Jana Jae’s Grand Lake National Fiddle Fest in 2006, 2007 and 2009 in Grove, OK. He was selected as a judge at the Grand National Fiddle Championship in Weiser, ID in 2008. Bobby is a certified national fiddle judge. He is a nationally recognized consultant on rules and judging procedures for heritage music competitions. He has taught fiddle workshops at the Augusta Heritage Center, Allegheny Echoes in West Virginia, the 2012 Midwest Banjo Camp in Michigan and at the 2013 Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA. He has performed on musical tours in Australia and Ireland, and was a featured performer at the National Folk Festival in Australia in March of 2008. He was a featured performer at the Library of Congress and at the Kennedy Center on August 16, 2012. The Library of Congress show was recorded for their permanent collection.


In 1990, Bobby apprenticed and constructed a violin under the guidance of Harold M. Hayslett. Mr. Hayslett was a Violin Society of America “Gold Medal” winner for tone at the 1980 international competition.


Bobby currently judges extensively and presents historical showcases on fiddle styles with his old-time band “Kanawha Tradition.” It is not uncommon for historic fiddles once owned by great fiddlers such as Clark Kessinger and Ed Haley to show up at these events.  Bobby is the custodian of these historical instruments. 


The 2019 Grand Masters will return to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's Ford Theater on August 31st and September 1st (Labor Day Weekend). Visit this website often for updates.

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