Judges for the 2017 Competition
Bobby Taylor is a fourth generation West Virginia fiddler who has played the fiddle for over 40 years, starting at the age of 13. He learned his music from the legendary Clark Kessinger and Mike Humphreys, both of whom lived near where he grew up in Dunbar, WV. Bobby has also studied countless American fiddle styles and conducts workshops showcasing his special blend of various styles. He retired from playing contests in 1977 to start coordinating contests for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Among his wins is the 1977 West Virginia State Open Fiddle Championship in Elkins, WV. This prestigious contest allowed all champions from other states to enter as well as West Virginians, drawing in fiddlers from all over the eastern United States and as far as Canada.
Bobby has been the coordinator of West Virginia’s Vandalia Gathering musicians’ contests at the State Capitol in Charleston, WV, since 1979. He was the coordinator of the Appalachian Open Championships from 1984-1987, a contest that drew many great fiddlers, including some of the Grand Master fiddlers.He is currently the coordinator of the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, WV, an old-time music festival started in 1990. He continues to judge fiddle contests extensively throughout the country. He is also a consultant for contest promoters in the Eastern United States and beyond regarding rules and guidelines for musical competitions. He was a judge at the 2008 National Old-time Fiddlers’ Contest and Festival at Weiser, Idaho. Bobby is a former judge here at the Grand Master Fiddler Championship.
He enjoys passing his own unique musical style on to younger musicians, and frequently serves as fiddle instructor at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV, and Allegheny Echoes in Marlinton, WV. In 2003, Bobby was recognized for his efforts when the Friends of Old-Time Music and Dance (FOOTMAD) presented him with the FOOTBRIDGE AWARD, a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to old-time music.
Personal musical performances have included many major festivals for more than 40 years throughout West Virginia and the Eastern United States. Bobby played in Germany in 1979 as a part of the Friendship Force, at the Florida House and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC., and at the Chicago Folk Festival. In 1996, Bobby was honored to be invited to play at a banquet honoring Senator Robert C. Byrd that was attended by President Bill Clinton. In November 2005, he played at the Bluegrass and Old-time Music Festival in Harrietville, Australia. Most recently, Bobby was an invited performer at the National Folk Festival in Canberra, Australia.