Considered one of the state’s finest living fiddlers, Bob Townsend moved to Tennessee when he was 10 years old. His new neighborhood in South Pittsburg was home to a family that played fiddle, banjo, guitar, and mandolin. Bob honed his playing by sitting and watching many regional fiddlers he traveled to meet, and from listening to recordings, both homemade tapes and commercial albums. Among his biggest influences was Charles Higgins, who helped him understand and replicate the playing of Grundy County fiddler Oscar Overturf. As part of the 2020 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, Bob taught apprentice Paul Smithson the tunes and techniques he has learned from local fiddlers in Marion, Grundy, and Franklin counties.
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