Brad Leftwich

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Brad Leftwich
Born (1953-03-27) March 27, 1953 (age 66)
Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States
Years activemid-1970s–present
Associated actsPlank Road String Band; Leftwich & Higginbotham; Tom, Brad & Alice; Hogwire Stringband; The Humdingers
WebsiteBrad Leftwich homepage Hogwire Stringband

Brad Leftwich (born 1953) is a prominent American old-time fiddler, banjo player, singer and teacher of traditional old-time style. He is originally from Oklahoma. He performs solo and with his long-time musical partner and wife, Linda Higginbotham, and with Brad Leftwich and the Hogwire Stringband.

Since the 1970s he has also been a member of the Plank Road Stringband, Leftwich & Higginbotham, The Humdingers, and Tom Brad & Alice. He has recorded for June Appal, Rounder, County, Copper Creek, Marimac and his own label Dark Train Records.

Leftwich has written two books published by Mel Bay, one on Round Peak clawhammer banjo playing and the other on Round Peak fiddling. He has also released two instructional old-time fiddle videos for Homespun Tapes.

Early life[edit]

Leftwich grew up in a musical family. His mother played piano and sang in church, and he first learned to play some old-time guitar from his father when he was 8 or 9 years old.[1][2] Probably the greatest musical influences in his family were his grandfather Rush Leftwich on banjo and great uncle George Leftwich on fiddle. Originally from Carroll County, Virginia, Rush and George played the traditional style of old-time music that was common in their area.[3] Though Rush and George died before Leftwich could learn from them directly, they had already shaped his desire to learn to play old time music.

Leftwich asked for his first banjo when he was 15, and by the time he left to study anthropology and sociology at Oberlin College, he had developed some proficiency in bluegrass banjo, as well as some clawhammer banjo and a bit of fiddle.[4]

While in college, Leftwich traveled during summer breaks to old-time fiddle conventions to learn more about the musical style. It was during one of these summer breaks that Leftwich and a friend first visited noted old-time fiddler Tommy Jarrell at his home in the Mount Airy region of North Carolina. Tommy took a liking to Leftwich that was enhanced by the discovery that Brad and Jarrell's wife were distant relatives.[5]

Tommy Jarrell became Brad's main old-time music mentor, alerting Brad to a traditional style of playing that used deliberate bowing patterns. This style is characterized by beginning musical phrases on the down-bow, or pulling the bow away from the fiddle, among other features.[6][7][3]



Since the 1970s, Leftwich has played with a range of musical acts including the Plank Road String Band, the Humdingers, the Hogwire Stringband, and Tom, Brad & Alice, a group formed with Tom Sauber and noted bluegrass musician Alice Gerrard. Leftwich has also played on several recordings with his wife Linda Higginbotham.

Leftwich's recordings have also been used as a reference for Slippery Hill, an educational website maintaining a massive archive of source recordings for traditional American fiddle tunes.[8]

Shortly after graduating from Oberlin College in 1975, Leftwich moved to the musically active community of Lexington, Virginia where he co-founded the Plank Road String Band.[9] After recording two albums, Leftwich moved to Chicago to pursue advanced studies in anthropology. However, after a couple of years in Chicago, Leftwich changed directions and moved to Bloomington, Indiana to take courses in Indiana University's Folklore and Ethnomusicology program.[9] In his new home, Leftwich met Linda Higginbotham, an active member of the Bloomington Old-Time Music and Dance Group. After a hiatus from fiddle, Leftwich's return to an active old-time community, and encouragement from Higginbotham, who he taught to play banjo and banjo uke, brought about his permanent return to old-time music.[9]

Teaching and Scholarship[edit]

In addition to Leftwich's recording and performance career, he is also known for teaching fiddle and banjo in Bloomington, Indiana, in videotaped lessons, and at educational music camps. He has written articles on Southern Appalachian fiddling for Fiddler Magazine and for the Old-Time Herald.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Leftwich lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his wife Linda Higginbotham.



Selected Anthologies[edit]

  • 2009 - Rounder Fiddle. Rounder Records
  • 1995 - Carrying on the Traditions: Appalachian Fiddling Today. Fiddler Magazine Video
  • 1986 - A Tribute to Tommy Jarrell. Heritage Records

Instructional Books and DVDs[edit]


  1. ^ Klassen, Teri (Summer 1994). "Brad Leftwich--Old-Time Fiddler". The Old-Time Herald. 4 (4): 24–28.
  2. ^ Steiner, Alan J. (August 1986). "Leftwich & Higginbotham". Bluegrass Unlimited: 39–41.
  3. ^ a b Steiner 1986, p. 39.
  4. ^ Klassen 1994, p. 25.
  5. ^ Klassen 1994, p. 27.
  6. ^ Klassen 1994, pp. 24-25.
  7. ^ Buckingham 2000, p. 15.
  8. ^ "The Milliner - Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes". Archived from the original on 2015-10-08. Retrieved 2015-09-20.
  9. ^ a b c Steiner 1986, p. 40.
  10. ^ Buckingham, Bob (Fall 2000). "Brad Leftwich: Old-Time Fiddler, Natural Teacher". Fiddler Magazine: 15–19.

External links[edit]