is always a hit with audiences
returns to perform at this years Folk Festival
(May 2007) Tom Cunningham has been described as
wonderfully charming, extremely talented, spirited
and a sharp dude.
Tom Cunningham mixes humor with music.
A fiddler and storyteller with a storytelling fiddle,
the 51-year-old Louisville resident will bring his talents and show
to Madison, Ind., on May 19 as part of the second annual Ohio River
Valley Folk Festival. He performed at the inaugural event last year.
Cunningham began his musical career in Pittsburgh more than 40 years
ago with a violin and his mothers lessons. He said music had always
been in his family and was a part of him. He took lessons on the violin
and later on the fiddle. Cunningham then taught himself to play guitar
and mandolin. Over the years, he has been in numerous bands, performed
in theater, recorded his own music and taught others the craft of playing
Four years ago, Cunningham and his wife, Lorraine Benberg, moved to
Louisville, and Cunningham decided he wanted to turn his fiddle playing
and love of storytelling into a show. And thats how FiddleTales
FiddleTales combines songs, poems and stories of old. Cunningham makes
his fiddle talk and has written some of his own stories.
He even has an alter ego, Professor Longwind, who teaches the difference
between a violin and fiddle. Cunningham said a lot of the fiddle songs,
themselves, tell stories, and he has written stories about the fiddle.
I love doing this, he said.
John Gage, 62, of Louisville has known Cunningham since he has been
in Louisville. Gage produces a radio show called Kentucky Home
on WFBK, 91.9 FM, in Louisville. Hes had Cunningham on his show
many times, performing with bands and performing FiddleTales. Gage,
a guitar player, has also jammed with Cunningham several
Hes a sharp dude, Gage said of Cunningham. Hes
a scholar, and artist, an entertainer. He is comfortable with different
styles (of music), jazz, swing. Very esoteric.
Gage added that Cunningham is a very spirited entertainer
who understands the historical context of the fiddler and his social
significance in the 1800s and 1900s. He also understands the theory
and structure of music and its melodic form. Gage said.
The fiddler in the 1800s roamed the country telling stories. He
was very much like a shaman at the time, Gage said. People would
come from all over a region when a fiddler would come through.
Steve Thomas of the Thomas Family Winery in Madison, agreed. A co-chairman
of the Folk Festival, Thomas invited Cunningham to provide a sample
of his storytelling and fiddling during a media event held in early
April to help promote this years festival. Thomas agrees with
Gage that at those earlier times in history, illiteracy was commonplace.
The fiddler was the historian and teacher and messenger.
Read more on Cunningham at: www.fiddletales.com.
See the storyteller schedule at: www.ohiorivervalleyfolkfestival.com.
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