- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2015

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - One glance at Daniel Greeson’s summer calendar tells you he’s no ordinary teenager.

Instead of the usual beach trips, there is a steady blur of competitions, rehearsals, tour dates and recording sessions. So many commitments, it takes a helping hand from his mother, Elizabeth, to keep it all straight.

Greeson’s hectic calendar was built around his longtime passion for bluegrass music. Bluegrass fiddling, to be precise.

And it’s Greeson’s knack for fiddling that attracts attention. It’s led to recording sessions, a steady strings of gigs, invitations to sit in with a handful of other bluegrass bands, as well as glowing features on national radio programs like National Public Radio’s “Here and Now.”

You might think the attention would make for heady days for the 18-year-old from Jamestown. But Greeson keeps plugging away, rehearsing with the bluegrass band Rich in Tradition and vowing not to take himself too seriously.

Take his recent appearance at the Old Time Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Va., where the previous two years he placed second and third.

“Galax is such a big fiddlers convention; I know he would like to win, but Daniel’s very humble,” his mom said. “He knows there are at least 15 to 20 other fiddlers who stand as good a chance of winning as he.”

“I just want to earn my entry fee back,” Greeson said matter-of-factly before taking the stage to compete against 113 other fiddlers, ultimately bringing home another third-place finish.

Earlier this spring at the Union Grove Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Union Grove, Greeson took home first place, adding to his long and growing list of awards.

Greeson’s passion was sparked at an early age.

“When Daniel was 2 or 3 years old, we would be riding in the car playing the radio and Daniel would make us stop searching whenever we came across a bluegrass channel,” Elizabeth said.

Before long, Daniel was asking for his own fiddle.

“We asked why, and Daniel said it was because it was the hardest instrument to play.”

Raised in a close-knit family that spent a lot of time with relatives, Greeson picked up his ear for bluegrass from his father, Russell, and his great-uncle, Scott Greeson, who lent the youngster a pint-sized 1/4 fiddle and quickly put him in touch with renowned Piedmont fiddle instructor J.B. Prince (who died unexpectedly this summer at the age of 58). Greeson took lessons with Prince for over eight years.

“Those lessons were so much more than instrument lessons,” Elizabeth said. “They were life lessons. J.B. taught him so much about old-time music and life on the road.”

For the past several years, Greeson has taken fiddling lessons with Dewey Brown of the Ralph Stanley group.

And he keeps practicing - and getting noticed.

Banjo player Jay Adams of the Piedmont bluegrass band Rich in Tradition first took note of Greeson when he was just 8 or 9. Adams asked Greeson to join the band as their full-time fiddler two years ago, when Greeson was 16.

“He’s way ahead of his years in terms of his fiddling ability,” Adams said. “His maturity and discipline sets him apart from most people his age.”

Complimenting that strong work ethic is Greeson’s deep reverence for traditional music.

“I like the old style of music because that’s where it all started,” he said. “Bluegrass wouldn’t be where it is today without the old music.”

With a new self-titled CD under his belt that’s being sold by national vendors like Amazon, iTunes and Spotify, Greeson’s future appears bright. Bluegrass fans can catch Greeson playing with his Rich in Tradition bandmates this weekend at the American Roots Bluegrass Festival in Greensboro.

A few weeks ago, Greeson started a new chapter. He’s a freshman at East Tennessee State University, where he will take part in its renowned bluegrass and Americana music studies program.

“I just really love to play,” Greeson said. “If you’re young and you’re not having fun, then you shouldn’t be doing it. I’m having a blast right now.”


Information from: News & Record, https://www.news-record.com

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