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Fiddlers Amy and Daniel Carwile will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at Athens State University. Tickets are $15; call 233-8126.
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Fiddlers Amy and Daniel Carwile will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at Athens State University. Tickets are $15; call 233-8126.

Carwiles to fiddle their way to Athens

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com · 340-2446

A former Fiddle King will return home to Athens for a Saturday concert in McCandless Hall with his wife, who also plays the fiddle and other instruments.

Daniel Carwile, who began playing the fiddle at 7 and became the youngest Fiddle King ever at age 14, went on to win the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Athens six more times.

Now retired from competing, he concentrates on teaching and accompanying his students at contests.

He and his wife, Amy, teach about 75 students a week at their Carwile String Studio in Lexington, Ky., as well as leading workshops and summer camp instruction on fiddle, violin, viola, mandolin and acoustic guitar.

They recently returned from a tour of the Northwest, where they performed in Seattle and in Idaho. They also judge contests and perform on stage and at booked events.

“At least a dozen people came up to me when we were in Athens last month to judge the Fiddlers Convention and asked me when we would play Athens again,” said Carwile.

Carwile, 34, son of Maurice and Kathryn Carwile of Athens, is a 1991 graduate of Athens High.

“I used to take violin lessons in Decatur at the home of my uncle and aunt, Bill and Maxie Carwile,” he recalled. His teacher, the late Dennis Johnson, came from Hartselle.

He got a bachelor’s degree in music education from The University of North Alabama in Florence, where he was a member of a Celtic band, the Full Moon Ensemble. Then he returned to Athens to serve as school band director and give lessons.

A move to Nashville brought him new opportunities, as did fiddling around the country. In 2001, he met Amy, a fiddle teacher with a similar background, at the National Old-Time Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho.

He had not been to the Idaho contest in 12 years but decided on a whim to see if they needed a judge.

She had not missed it in 16 years but almost did — until a band gig was canceled at the last minute. Two years later, they married.

“They are two of the most accomplished musicians I have run across in a long time,” said Don Rigsby, head of the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music.

Carwile is proud of their most recent recording, a CD called “Col Arco,” which in Italian means “With the bow.” It features several tunes he wrote, as well as others paying homage to some of their favorite fiddlers.

“It’s the most eclectic recording I’ve done to date, and it represents what Amy and I do together very well,” he said. “We were excited that it went to No. 5 on the folk radio charts for August.” They will play some of that music in their Athens concert.

For the Athens concert, “We’ll mix it up,” he said. “Amy sings a little, and we’ll play guitar and mandolin, several fiddles, five-string viola, tenor and standard guitar, piano and bouzouki.

“I could bring more and play more, but I think I’ll stick with that.”

He also has four solo fiddle CDs and has recorded on Rounder, Sugar Hill and Rebel Records with Alison Krauss, Sam Bush, Michael English, Larry Cordle and others.

Carwile will be part of a DVD series to be shot in Nashville on Monday during 7 and 9 p.m. shows at The Violin Shop.

“I’ll be part of the Fiddlemasters DVD series,” he said. Two are already out, and he will be on Volume 4.

“They hope to have Alison Krauss and Mark O’Connor on the same DVD I’m on,” he said. “I competed against both of them 20 years ago ... the fiddle world is a small one.”

The concert in McCandless Hall at Athens State University will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday and is part of the Livingston Concert Lecture Series. Tickets are $15. Call 233-8126.

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