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henry the fiddler

Henry started life as Henry Tarrson in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois. His musical career started with group piano studies at age 7 in the Evanston public schools. He took up the violin at age 9. Henry studied and played classical music in Evanston's grade school, high school and all-city orchestras.

In 1971, after serving in the United States Army during the Vietnam era, Henry took on the stage name Henry the Fiddler. He began an odyssey of traveling and fiddling across the United States and Canada. In the past two decades Henry has earned a reputation as A Minstrel in Our Time. In his travels Henry has learned 30 styles of music from around the world. These include Western Swing, Old Timey, Bluegrass, Blues, Folk, Country, Rock, Pop, Movies and Broadway, Gypsy/Hungarian, Spanish/Mexican/Latin and many of the European ethnic styles. Henry has been a frequent performer at festivals throughout North America and on the National Public Radio program, Folk Festival USA. He has been a frequent winner and special entertainer in many fiddling contests across America.

In 1976, Henry was honored as one of the United States' top 20 fiddle players at the National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest held in Weiser, Idaho. He has also won awards at the Union Grove Fiddlers' Convention, Union Grove, North Carolina and the Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana. In the late 70's, Henry toured the United States in a school bus with some of his friends, entertaining at colleges and community concert series.

In addition to fiddling, Henry is an avid computer enthusiast, having gotten interested in them in 1964 during high school. He has also worked as a systems analyst and computer consultant when he wasn't busy fiddling around. In 1980, Henry changed his name legally to Henry the Fiddler to avoid "the endless hassles of having two names-nobody knew the old one anymore anyway" he says! In 1992 Henry's love of the minstrel traveling life overtook him and he once again hit the open road.

In addition to his fiddle, Henry travels with an interesting novelty instrument, the musical saw. Playing music on saw blades is a dying art and Henry is doing his part to revive it. He started playing the saw seriously in 1988 and plays favorites on it such as Waltzing Matilda and Ghost Riders in the Sky.

During 1994 and 1995 Henry traveled extensively abroad. The Holland America Line hired him to entertain in the theaters aboard four of its luxury cruise ships, including its flagship, the Rotterdam. These boats all feature mini orchestras so Henry charted his show and had live accompaniment! While with Holland America, Henry traveled to such exotic Caribbean destinations as Acapulco, the Virgin Islands, the Panama Canal, Grand Cayman, Cartagena, Columbia and Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. This experience whetted Henry's appetite for more world travel. So, in 1995 he booked a round-the-world airline ticket and spent over 5 months minstreling his way while circumnavigating the globe. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure took Henry to 8 countries: the Czech Republic, Germany, England, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. Being a spur-of-the-moment trip there wasn't time for advanced bookings. So Henry played the streets of the world and picked up casual jobs along the way. In Thailand he sat in with a country band on the island, Koh Samui.

Henry has released two recordings on his own label, Fiddlededoo Records. Henry the Fiddler and Friends , The first album was originally released in 1977. It features 14 tunes representing a wide variety of musical styles from around the world. The second is entitled Twin Fiddle Favorites and was released in 1992. This recording features one of Henry's favorite twin fiddling partners, Mike Oenbring of Granite Falls, Washington. Henry loves to play a harmony part, known as "twin fiddling" or "seconding" in the fiddle world. Twin Fiddle Favorites features 32 old standard and western swing tunes played in harmony by Mike and Henry. Henry has appeared on both Irish Row Record productions for Brian Clancy, Songs From Irish Row and Brian Clancy LIVE that feature Henry's fiddling and the first commerical recording of his musical saw talent.

Henry enjoys the simple things in life which explains his favorite hobbies-hiking, camping and getting back to nature. This also explains his enthusiasm for events with a pioneer theme and his love of old timey mountain music. Recently Henry's concern for the environment and natural things has caused him to assess the impact of his traveling and selling plastic recordings. He felt a need to stop in one place for a while to get up to speed on the fast changing Internet/computer world. Henry is currently researching sustainable, environmentally friendly ways to continue his travels and sell his recordings. Out of the many places he has been, the Colorado front range is Henry's choice as the location to settle down for a few years.