Young fiddler plays Head Start benefit

By Mary Ann Enloe | Feb 20, 2013
Photo by: Mary Ann Enloe Danielle Bishop plays fiddle with Whitewater Bluegrass Company.

Local bluegrass fans have an opportunity Thursday evening to hear a barn-burning young fiddler who helps prove that the Appalachian tunes folks around here grew up with will keep toes tapping into another generation.

Eighteen-year-old fiddling phenomenon Danielle Bishop will appear at Smoky Mountain Coffee Roasters on Hazelwood Avenue at 7 p.m. Bishop is just a slip of a thing but she plays mighty big music. She's been fiddling since she was five and her awards started stacking up while she was still in elementary school.

In 2006 at age 11, Bishop was the youngest fiddler ever to win Fiddler of the Festival at prestigious Fiddler's Grove, an honor that found its way into the New York Times in Nick Kaye's article "Celebrating the Sounds of Appalachian Strings."

Bishop is a regular this winter with Asheville's Whitewater Bluegrass Company where she holds her own with seasoned musicians like IBMA award winning banjo player and three-time Grammy nominee Steve Sutton of Waynesville, guitarist Bill Byerly who has been with WWBC since its inception and mandolin player Dave Pendley, formerly of the chart-topping band Ricochet.

"Uncle" Ted White founded the regional favorite bluegrass band 30 years ago and had this to say about their youngest member: "For me, having Danielle play with us means that we have a hand in helping this culture survive by passing it down to the next generation," said White. "I know it's in good hands with her."

The band clearly enjoys mentoring and making music with Bishop. WWBC plays frequently at the Sheraton's Chop House Restaurant in Asheville and always draws an audience from Haywood County. One is Dan C. Davis of Waynesville who sits on the sofa directly in front of the band.

At Davis' request, their sign-off tune is Bishop's rollicking rendition of "Orange Blossom Special." Every fiddle player plays it but not all of them do it well. Bishop nails it. "She's going to go places," said Davis. "I've been listening to her for years. She can sure stand in there with those boys," he said with a laugh.  "And she's a beautiful girl."

Balsam Range favorites Buddy Melton and Caleb Smith join Bishop at Smoky Mountain Coffee Roasters Thursday night. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and admission is free. Donations are appreciated for the Haywood County Head Start program. The performance is the official kick-off for the second annual PlottFest scheduled for late June, also a fundraiser for Head Start.

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