Our first open style fiddle contest went real well and was packed out. Congratulations to our 3rd place winner, Max Rainwater from Columbus, Ohio, and our 2nd place winner, Leo Hickman from Bloomington IN.
A big congratulations to eleven year old Giri Peters from Nashville TN, our 1st place winner! Giri is one busy fiddler! He travels with his banjo picking little sister, Uma, (2nd place in our banjo contest), performs, jams, records, and has a website.
Be sure and check Giri’s website and Facebook page to stay on top of Giri's adventures as he writes, picks with the "stars" and posts video. Giri also took 2nd in youth fiddle, 2016 at Galax. www.giripetersmusic.com
Giri is prodigiously gifted, a deep thinker and focused. Giri is a pleasure of a polite young fiddler to interview.
Q: Giri, how long have you been a musician?
A: I am eleven years old. I started classical violin when I was 5. I started fiddle when I was eight and a half.
Q: How old were you when you realized fiddle was for you?
A: I was three years old when I started asking for a violin. After seeing the Goat Rodeo sessions when I was 8, I started asking to play fiddle and begged for a mandolin as well.
Q: What other instruments do you play?
A: I play mandolin, guitar, and a little bit of dobro.
Q: What do you do when you are not fiddling?
A: When I am not playing fiddle, I am playing mandolin, reading, whittling, drawing, or playing basketball.
Q: Do you interact much with other fiddlers on a regular basis?
A: Since I live in Nashville, I do go to watch a lot of fiddlers at shows around town. I try to introduce myself to people, and I have a lot of fun meeting other fiddlers. I also like to try to listen to certain licks that others do so that I could put some of them into of my songs.
Q: When you are playing a tune in a performance, what goes through your mind?
A: It’s hard for me to put that into words. I am usually feeling the beat and tapping my feet. I may also be thinking about improvisations along the way depending upon what the other players are doing.
Q: Most memorable experience for a performance.
A: I really enjoyed playing at the Station Inn with Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen. Those guys are amazing musicians and play with so much energy.
Q: Who are your influences?
A: I have so many! My main influences for fiddle are Gabe Witcher, Jason Carter, Luke Bulla, and Stuart Duncan. I have many more on mandolin as well...I absolutely love Chris Thile, Sam Bush, and Sierra Hull.
Q: Do have any "bad" fiddle habits?
A: Yes – let’s just leave it at that.
Q: How do you approach learning a tune?
A: I learn tunes by ear, by watching videos, and using the Amazing Slow Downer app.
Q: How do you approach practices?
A: When I practice I set goals for the day in my head for what I'm going to learn, or what I'm going to polish up. I also break down songs into pieces and will work on the more difficult parts.
Q: What brand of strings do you use and why?
A: I use a Larson E strings, and Thomastiks for the others. I use them because my fiddle teacher (Deanie Richardson) and the people at the Violin Shop in Nashville said they fit my style of playing and they seem to be more flexible.
Q: Are you self taught?
A: I am not self-taught. My fiddle teacher's name is Deanie Richardson. She is a great teacher for me because she lets me improvise after I learn a basic melody, and she also lets me learn by ear.
Q: Why do like to enter contests?
A: I enjoy entering contests where there is also a festival so that I can jam and listen to other bands while also having a chance to perform. I think of a contest like another performance where I am playing to a crowd.
Q: How do you handle performing, practice, and school as opposed to just being a regular boy? Do you ever want to just put the fiddle down and run outdoors?
A: In my grade right now there is not much homework, so it is easier to manage practices. I also go to a school where I have a chance to “be a kid” and play outside, and even build forts. I am usually performing on a weekend. There are times where I do want to put music away, but music has always stuck with me and I keep coming back to it.
Q: How do you approach songwriting?
A: I approach songwriting by thinking of it as taking care of a plant until its flowers are ready to bloom. I usually start noodling around, and if a melody is stuck in my head for a while, I will take it and polish it, and add different parts. I can usually come up with a song from a melody after a few weeks.
Q: Do you have any recordings and/or projects planned?
A: I have an album called “Just Whittling Around” which you can buy from iTunes, CD Baby, or my website. I have written 6 more originals since the CD came out earlier this year and I hope to have more recordings/projects very soon.
Q: What advice do you have for other fiddlers, beginners, and other kids you see who are talented and want to make a living at it?
A: For people who want to start doing fiddle, before you even touch it, you just have to have the confidence and excitement to play. Listen to as much music as you can! I think it is one of the harder instruments to learn, so you have to put the work into it and have to want to keep moving on.
Q: Where do you want to wind up with your talent, what do you want to do with your life?
A: I want to be a professional musician and play in a newgrass/bluegrass band. I want to keep writing songs and incorporate other styles of music into my playing and songwriting so that I can broaden the audience for my music.
Q: What do you see yourself doing twenty years from now?
A: I hope I am in a band playing newgrass/bluegrass all over world.
video courtesy of Troy Phillips Photography