Bobby Taylor

Bobby at home

Bobby Taylor is a fourth generation West Virginia fiddler and he has played fiddle for more than 40 years, starting at the age of 13. He learned his music from the legendary Clark Kessinger and Mike Humphreys, both of whom lived near where he grew up in Dunbar, WV. Bobby was also influenced by the fiddling styles of Ed Haley, Doc Roberts, French Carpenter, the Skillet Lickers, Sam Jarvis and countless other legendary fiddlers. He first received statewide recognition for his abilities when he was named the 1977 West Virginia State Fiddle Champion at the West Virginia Forest Festival at Elkins. In 2003, Bobby received the FOOTBRIDGE AWARD. This was presented by FOOTMAD (Friends of Old-Time Music and Dance) for his contributions to old-time music.

He continues to be both a performer and an advocate of West Virginia fiddling. He has been the coordinator of West Virginia's Vandalia Gathering contests at the State Capitol in Charleston since 1979. He was the coordinator of the Appalachian Open Contest from 1984 through 1987, and he has been the coordinator of the Appalachian String Band Music Festival contest since 1990. All these events are sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

Taylor judges contests at the famed Galax (VA) Fiddlers Convention. He's a consultant for contest promoters in the Eastern United States on rules, judges and procedures for fiddle contests, and he has taught fiddle at the Augusta Heritage Center and Allegheny Echoes. In 2006 and 2007 he was Grand Masters Fiddle Championship Judge in Nashville TN. He presently also performs with the Old-Time band Kanawha Tradition.

Bobby has "made music" in more ways than one. In order to learn more about the instrument he plays, he constructed a quality violin under the guidance of Harold Hayslett, Violin Society of America Gold Medal winner.


Kanawha Tradition
L-R: Kim, Bobby, David and Andrew

“Kanawha Tradition” features a variety of settings including a melting pot of old-time styles and techniques. The band's goal is to present the history of various old-time styles in an entertaining and informative setting, making the audience a valuable part of the show. The band wants to be inclusive, and believes in sharing all the wonderful tools of the trade. All members of the band love to jam and visit with the audience and other musicians, and are available to present workshops on the various instruments.

An exhibit of historical instruments and photographs is available to be showcased at all shows. Famous instruments may include: Ed Haley’s fiddle, Clark Kessinger’s fiddle, Bill Miller’s rare 1928 Gibson arched top guitar with round sound hole, Ray Epler’s dulcimers, and Jenes Cottrell’s banjos. Also, a photographic exhibit of Bobby’s four generations of musical ancestors and several notable mentors can be displayed. Historical information is a part of the introductions to some of the tunes. Anecdotes regarding legendary musicians, either experienced firsthand or passed down by oral tradition, are shared by band members throughout a performance.

Band members and/or guest artists appearing with Bobby on “Kanawha Tradition” shows include the following musicians:

KIM JOHNSON has played music with several old-time legendary musicians and has recorded with greats like Wilson Douglas and Lester McCumbers. Her style is very fitting and accommodating to these old mountain styles of fiddling in West Virginia. She plays two different styles of banjos made by the legendary Jenes Cottrell.

ANDREW DUNLAP is a two-time West Virginia Old-Time Banjo Champion at the Vandalia Gathering, Charleston, WV. In addition to his flawless technique and tasteful banjo playing, he is also a top guitar backup man. His impeccable timing makes him in high demand at all the festivals. He and Bobby were guest artists at the 2005 Harriettville Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival in Australia, conducting workshops and performing concerts. They received a very nice reception and made many new friends at this very well-run festival dedicated to the presentation of Old-Time and Bluegrass music.

DAVID O’DELL occasionally appears in some of the “Kanawha Tradition” shows. He is a recording producer dedicated to preserving and presenting the musical heritage of the state of West Virginia. He has been Dulcimer and Old-Time Banjo Champion at the Vandalia Gathering in Charleston, WV, several times. He has also recorded with countless musicians including the legendary Franklin George.



March 4-6, 2010 Breaking Up Winter Festival
Lebanon, TN
March 21-22, 2010 Tennessee State Fiddle Championship
Clarksville, TN
May 28-30, 2010 Vandalia Gathering
Charleston, WV
Contest Coordinator
June 19, 2010 West Virginia State Folk Festival,
Glenville, WV
June 20-26, 2010 Allegheny Echoes Workshops
Marlinton, WV
July 1-3, 2010 Cedar Lakes Art & Craft Fair
Ripley, WV
Aug. 4-8, 2010 Appalachian String Band Music Festival
Clifftop, WV.
Contest Coordinator
Aug. 10-14, 2010 Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention
Galax Virginia
Sept. 4-5-2010 Kenney Parker Festival
Sweet Creek, WV
Sept. 11, 2010 J. P. Fraley Festival
Carter Caves, KY
Sept. 18, 2010 Ed Haley Memorial Fiddle Contest
Ashland, KY
Oct. 1-2, 2010 Grand Master Fiddle Contest
Nashville, TN
Oct, 21-23, 2010 Western Open Fiddle Championship
Red Bluff, CA
Oct. 30, 2010 St. Louis Folk School
St. Louis, MO


"Kanawha Tradition" (CD)
"The Music Never Dies" (CD) Elderberry Records
"Galax Old-Time Fiddlers Convention, 1987"(LP)
"The Young Fogies Vol 2" (CD) Rounder 0369
"The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters" (CD)

Contact Bobby Taylor

Phone: 304 722-0052

Bobby Taylor
Kanawha Tradition
982 Elliot Street
Saint Albans WV 25177-3904