Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

October 1, 2013

Greenup native Fiddler of the Year

NASHVILLE — Jason Carter credits the lessons he learned from local musicians and friendly “hardcore” jamming at area bluegrass festivals for developing the style that earned him the 2013 International Bluegrass Music Association Fiddler of the Year Award last week in Raleigh, N.C.

Carter, 40, who grew up in the Greenup County community of Lloyd and graduated from Greenup County High School in 1991, has been the fiddler for the Del McCoury Band for the past 21 years. The local musician said he had no idea he would be named to such a prestigious award from among such a talented field of nominees.

“Absolutely not. It was a definite surprise,” Carter said Monday morning, adding “I think some of those guys are among the best to ever pick up the instrument.”

The other nominees for the award were Michael Cleveland, Stuart Duncan, Bobby Hicks and Ron Stewart.

Carter, who has also played guitar and other instruments in different bands, said he first started playing the bowed instrument when he was about 15 years old as a member of a musical family, which includes his saxophonist brother, Jeff Carter, of Ashland. He was exposed to local styles while playing alongside their father in the James River Bluegrass Band, which also gave him chances to play with outside musicians when they traveled to music festivals and jumped in on jam sessions.

“There were so many great musicians growing up that I got to jam with,” he said, adding he and his dad often went to weekly all-star jam sessions hosted by the late Ted Thompson. At festivals, Carter said he was fortunate to be involved with jam sessions featuring musicians such as Ralph Stanley, Dave Evans and Doyle Lawson. He also cites the influence of local players Jerry Deere and the late Gerald Evans, who preceded him as a member of The Goins Brothers band.

“When I first started playing, that’s who I was listening to,” Carter said.

Carter said he met McCoury casually at festivals before his fiddler mentioned he would soon be leaving the band. Carter told McCoury he would be interested in the job and was given a three-day audition on the road between Nashville and Texas.

“That was 21 years ago,” he said.

Carter said he rarely makes it back to the old homeplace in Greenup County, especially in recent years with McCoury and band often on the road. During a series of shows “last year or the year before,” for example, Carter said the band traveled from Baltimore to Portland and back to New York during a single weekend on the road.

“I only make it back for the holidays now. I would like to get back more often,” he said.

Pondering his recognition by the international organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of bluegrass music, Carter said he appreciates everyone who has ever contributed to his music.

“I have thanks for all of the people back there who ever let me play music with them,” he said.

With some of his own favorite fiddlers also in the field for the IBMA Award, Carter said winning offered a dose of perspective.

 “Standing in a room full of all my favorite musicians, it’s pretty humbling,” he said.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com.

 or (606) 326-2651.

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