"Bluegrass music comes right down to the real story of the American life, the way people uh, you know, grows up and lives in our country, you know. And, and, and it...bluegrass has got a st--uh, it tells a story, you know what I mean...this is what makes America so great, you know."
Born in 1931 in Licking County, central Ohio, Kenny Sidle was raised around the sounds of the fiddle. Both his father (Vernon Sidle) and uncle (John Cromor) were fiddlers and encouraged young Kenny to play instruments. At the age of five, he performed "The Mockingbird" in his first public appearance. By his mid teens, Sidle began performing at Hillbilly Park with his sister, which was a country music camp site. This public exposure led Sidle to perform for local radio shows and square dances. He even served as a member of the staff band at the Wheeling Jamboree, a local radio program in West Virginia, before turning down an offer to join Bill Anderson's band the Grand Ole Opry.
After working at Owens Corning for twenty years, Sidle retired and once again turned to fiddling. He has travelled throughout Ohio and Canada, playing both competively and with various bands. During the 1980s and 1990s, Sidle won several important, meaningful awards. In 1988, Sidle was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowments for the Arts. Next, in 1994, he was honored with the "Dr. Perry F. Harris Distinguished Fiddler Award," named after the founder of the Grand Master Fiddler Championship. Sidle has also trained several apprentices over his long career. One of these apprentices, Adam Jackson, is a three-time winner of the Ohio State Fiddling Championship. Another apprentice, Lisa Wagner, won the Ohio Fiddling Championship in 1994. Over the years, Sidle has inspired new generations with his old-time fiddling and continues to share his traditional art with the Frosty Morning Bluegrass Band.
Kenny Sidle's Traditions episode
Seems Like Romance to Me: Traditional Fiddle Tunes from Ohio (PDF document about Ohio fiddlers)
Contents of the Collection
- Live CityFolk performance
- Framed letter from Ronald Reagan awarding National Heritage Fellowship