old-time fiddler, Blountville
National Heritage Fellowship (2002)
Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2003)
East Tennessee fiddler Ralph Blizard (1918-2004) enjoyed two musical careers, first as a young man, and then in later life. In 1932, barely a teenager, Blizard first formed The Southern Ramblers and for over twenty years played actively on local radio stations and at live concerts, but responsibilities as a young father eventually led him away from music for more dependable income. Upon retirement from Tennessee Eastman in 1980, he resumed playing to gain a new reputation as that era’s finest interpreter of the long-bow style and repertory of Dickson County’s famous fiddler, Arthur Smith. Blizard took part in the Tennessee program at the 1986 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, and with young accompanists in his reconstituted New Southern Ramblers he gained a wide audience and many students among old-time enthusiasts nationwide.