Another Fiddler in Heaven

Updated on August 31, 2017
kenneth avery profile image

Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.

One of my dad's fiddling heroes was fiddlin' Bill Hensley, (right), who played in numerous fiddling conventions and contests.
One of my dad's fiddling heroes was fiddlin' Bill Hensley, (right), who played in numerous fiddling conventions and contests. | Source

Who among us can cast the first dispersion against such a noble art as playing a fiddle? I am not a fiddler player and do not claim such. But I knew a fantastic fiddle player. I knew him well. He was my dad. His name, Austin Avery, Hamilton, Ala.,

Dad passed in 2006, Sept. 19, to be exact. Among his many gifts, (all self-taught), carpenter, brick mason, auto mechanic, veteran, W.W. II, his most-amazing gift was his fiddling. Many have and may scoff at today's swift rising and fading trinkets of fame, but playing the fiddle is no trinket. Nor is it a gift taken lightly. A man (or woman) who plays a fiddle is sometimes, many times lonely. Not many master fiddlers have allowed a lover to part them from their fiddle. It's just not right. It's just too unnatural. The fiddler can and does have the heart of his companion, but not the heart of his fiddle music that is stamped on his heart forever.

My dad was a self-taught fiddler. Not violinist. Although there is no shame in being a fiddler being called a violinist. A race car driver who mistakenly says that this driver is a gifted performer is not casting dark visions on the driver. Sometimes the one looking from outside in can get words in the way. Outsiders will never understand. I am an outsider. And was an outsider for the entirety of my dad's life. When I was a kid, I used to beg him (in front of his music-making friends) to let me play that fiddle. And he would just for a moment. Then he would gently take the fiddle out of my sweaty little hand and continue to play some of the best fiddling music in the world--with sessions like this going from any friend's home on any given Saturday at early evening until the wee hours of Sunday morning.

There were times that my mother would have to shake me awake when I fell fast asleep on our floor while listening to dad and his musical friends literally playing the daylights out of some song, "Billy in The Low Ground," or maybe "Down Yonder." But the one who the crowds loved was "Sally Goodin.'" Dad knew more than three fiddle tunes, but would only play those who asked for them. Dad was not what you would call a smart alec. Or someone to push some struggling musician on his stage with the others out of the fun. It didn't matter to my dad. It did matter that he loved the music each time that someone mentioned a Saturday night hoe down and he would be ready and set to go.

Yes, my dad was self-taught in the art of fiddling. But not taught by a paying teacher, but by his mom at age seven. And how this came to be just had to be the hand of God for no one else could believe the music that dad was playing from his dad's fiddle sitting in the middle of his parents' bed. Truth. Strange. You ain't wrong. But if my granny Avery were here, she would tell you that she only put (my dad) on this bed to begin with was just to keep him busy so I could get my cooking done. With my grandpa and his daughters out somewhere picking cotton or pulling corn, left dad's mom all alone and she thought that (my dad) playing the fiddle was much like a new toy bought in some store in town.

Much water has ran underneath this bridge. A lot. But my dad when he was younger, and retired from a bearing plant in Hamilton, would tell me (or whomever was near) about his times when he was starting out to play the fiddle. And he not just started out, but met with a lot of success competing with various fiddling contests that were held in his community. He won a few. He lost a few, but I found out later that the winning for him was not as important as him getting to play his fiddle with other musicians and hearing friends and neighbors sound out their approval of his craft.

My mom, before she passed away, told me of several times that when dad and her were young married folks, he would finish his field work and do whatever she needed him to help her do in their house and set off to "make music" as she called it. Many times he would not return until late, say about 11 p.m., which to him might be construed as "laying out all night" some who didn't know the depth of his love for the fiddle music and making folks happy. It was a gift. A wonderful gift. And yet, I found it to me as being a gift of frustration for although I did try to learn how to play the fiddle, and him teaching the instrument, I could only muster a few scratches and broken notes. I didn't receive dad's gift for fiddling. I soon found this to be a plain fact.

During dad's long love for playing the fiddle, of course came a certain amount of disappointment and hurt, but not why you would associate with fiddling. Dad loved to compete in fiddling contests. He really did. But he found out early on that in a few of the biggest contests were somehow and obviously rigged. Sad? Yes, sir. Very sad. And when dad would finish his fiddling, the judges, who had predestined the outcome, would hand the trophy to a local "ol' boy" that would see that the judges were rewarded for their voting. No, losing a fiddling contest was not that hurtful for dad. Knowing later that he was a lot better than the "losers" (meant two ways) was the real hurt. But he kept on fiddling.

After these kind of contests, the ones who were rigged, and I had been gifted for some useful art to compete from and with all of my heart only to find that I had been shuffled out by some under-the-table monetary bribe, I know how I would have handled this brand of defeat. I would have quit right there. On the spot.

Not dad. He kept on fiddling even when he was nearing his darkest days of a sickness that finally took him to eternity.

And that was really what made my dad being such a good man and a great fiddler player.

Dave Swarbrick, master fiddler, seen in this photo after several battles with his health that prompted Swarbrick to keep giving it his all to not just to recover from sickness, but keep playing his fiddle.
Dave Swarbrick, master fiddler, seen in this photo after several battles with his health that prompted Swarbrick to keep giving it his all to not just to recover from sickness, but keep playing his fiddle. | Source

© 2017 Kenneth Avery


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      My Dear RoadMonkey,

      You are absolutely right. And you read between the lines (that I hoped followers would read) to see the REAL reason why my dad loved to play his fiddle.

      God bless you, RM, my Dear Friend for leaving such a respectful and loving comment.

      Keep in touch.

    • RoadMonkey profile image


      3 years ago

      It's a real gift when someone can just play an instrument and true love when they keep playing despite unfair disappointments. Yet , playing an instrument can also be true happiness, no matter who is around or no one at all. There is no loneliness when you can play for your own enjoyment.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)