DeFosche and Caruthers: Cumberland Plateau Fiddling

Fiddler Michael DeFosche, of Whitleyville, is one of the most respected old time musicians of his generation in Tennessee, with forty-five years of experience playing fiddle, banjo, and guitar. With great thought and devotion, DeFosche has spent these decades studying the traditional fiddle repertories and playing styles of Cumberland Plateau fiddlers like Clyde Davenport, John Sharp, Bob Douglas, and Leonard Rutherford. DeFosche has presented teaching sessions and workshops at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, the Swannanoa Gathering, and Bluff County Gathering. He has also presented and interpreted the styles of older fiddlers, especially alongside Davenport and Douglas, at many festivals and concerts. DeFosche accompanied 100-year-old Douglas during his first performance on the Grand Ole Opry in 2003.

Of apprentice Trenton Caruthers, DeFosche says that he has seldom encountered a 15-year-old with “such enthusiasm for old time skills in general and fiddle and banjo specifically.” Caruthers, also a champion junior buck dancer, is already an annual mainstay at such events as the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree, Uncle Dave Macon Days, and Old Timers Day at Pickett State Park. Caruthers, following in the footsteps of Davenport, Douglas, and DeFosche, performed a featured set in 2018 at the historic Laurel Theater in Knoxville at the annual Jubilee Fest. In May 2018, he was also a headline tradition bearer at the landmark Crossing the Cumberlands Concert in Nashville.