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He was born in Italy and grew up in Bologna. He first visited the United States in the late 1970s and came to live in the U.S. in 1983. He is a permanent resident of the U.S. and lives in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. In addition to playing music, he is also trained in violin making and restores violins.
He has performed with the Wildcats (along with Carol Elizabeth Jones and Stefan Senders. Along with Dirk Powell and Bruce Molsky he has performed with a trio called the L-7s. He has also performed with Molsky and guitarist Beverly Smith in a group called Big Hoedown, a group that disbanded in 2000. Along with Meredith McIntosh, John Hermann, and Bev Smith, he has performed in the Rockinghams. He has also recorded with Bob Herring. He performs with his wife Nikki and daughter Clelia (who plays fiddle, guitar, double bass, and ukulele) as "Nine Pound Hammer."
Stefanini has performed on A Prairie Home Companion and at the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention. He has performed throughout the United States as well as in Finland, Germany, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.
His brothers Gianni and Bruno also play old-time music and the three performed in The Moonshine Brothers, which formed in the late 1970s and remained together until Rafe Stefanini moved to the U.S. in 1983.
- 1999 - Hell and Scissors (County)
- 2001 - Glory on the Big String (County)
- 2006 - Bluegrass Meadows (5-String)
- 2006 - Ladies Fancy (County)
With Bob Herring
- 1995 - Old Paint (Yodel-ay-hee)
- 2004 - Fresh Coat (5-String)
With Bruce Molsky & Big Hoedown
- 1997 - Bruce Molsky & Big Hoedown (Rounder)
With Clelia Stefanini
- 2009 - Never Seen the Like...
With The Wildcats
- Old Time Music (Marimac)
- On Our Knees (Yodel-ay-hee)
- Galax International (Heritage)
- 5th Annual Galax Fiddlers Convention 1985 (Heritage)
- 2002 - Rough Guide to the Music of the Appalachians (World Music Network)
- 2003 - The Art Of Old-Time Mountain Music (Rounder)
- The Rockinghams (Yodel-ay-hee)
- Shout Lulu (with The Rockinghams)
- Old Time Friends (with Ray Alden and others) (Marimac)
- The Young Fogies (Heritage)
- Mike Seeger's 3rd Annual Farewell Reunion (with Mike Seeger and others; 1995 Grammy nominee) (Rounder)
- A Tribute to the Appalachian String Band Music Festival (with The L7s) (Chubby Dragon)
- The Marimac Anthology (Rounder)
- Young Fogies Vol. 2 (with The L7s) (Rounder)
- Red Prairie Dawn (with Gary Harrison & The Mule Team) (Gary Harrison)