Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It's a Living: Professional Tulsa Fiddler

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It's a Living: Professional Tulsa Fiddler

Article excerpt

When the music is classical, the performer is a violinist. When it's a matter of fiddling with folk tunes that get people square dancing, he's Shelby Eicher.

"I grew up with my grandmother and five uncles who played for square dances, and I got my first fiddle when I was 5," said Eicher, a professional fiddler and Tulsa resident. "It was the beginning of a huge musical journey I've been on all my life."

Now Eicher almost seems to eat, drink, breathe and sleep fiddle. When he's not teaching to students, he's playing with friends, judging the state Fiddle Championship or running the education program at the National Fiddler Hall of Fame - which he helped establish.

He grew up in northern Ohio and moved to Oklahoma in 1978 to attend then-Claremore Junior College to further develop his musical skills at one of two colleges in the country at the time that offered bluegrass instruction. Then he moved to Nashville for exposure to country music and picked up a little Cajun fiddling along the way when he was hired to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. And as a member of Roy Clark's band for 15 years, Shelby recorded five albums with the Hee Haw television star and appeared numerous times on The Tonight Show.

He ultimately came back to Oklahoma in a full circle of his instrument mastery: Eicher has been developing a curriculum and will be teaching fiddle at the new Tommy Allsup Guitar/Fiddle Camp at the Northeast Technology Center in Claremore.

"No matter what you do, it all comes down to who you know, and I've met a lot of people over the years," Eicher said. "I've learned a lot from all of them. I wouldn't be who I am today without those experiences. ... For example, Roy Clark was just an incredible man and one heck of a musical artist. I'm glad I had a chance to play with him."

Eicher's career kept him on the road for much of his life, touring with performance groups as the opportunities became available. …

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