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The Alaska Folk Festival is thrilled to have the Byron Berline Band as our 2015 guest artist. Playing their own brand of traditional bluegrass and Western swing music, Berline is a three time national fiddle champion and country/bluegrass legend backed by an all-star band including Billy Perry, Jim Fish, Richard Sharp, Greg Burgress, and Steve Short.

Berline's start in country music began at age five and his early career included playing fiddle with legends such as Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, the Dillards and Country Gazette. After moving to Los Angeles in 1969, he soon became one of the most popular fiddlers in the music business. His long list of performing and recording credits includes The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, The Band, The Byrds, Gram Parsons, Alabama, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Emmylou Harris, Tammy Wynette, Mason Williams, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Vince Gill. He also has extensive television and movie sound track credits and has appeared in Star Trek, Blaze, Back to the Future III and Basic Instinct.

Berline has recorded seven solo albums including his highly acclaimed Fiddle & a Song with guest performances from Vince Gill, Mason Williams, Earl Scruggs and Bill Monroe. In 1996 the album was nominated for two Grammy awards, 'Best Album of the Year' and 'Best Song of the Year.' As one of the world’s premier fiddle players, Berline is fluent in many of the different aspects of American music, including western swing, blues, cajun, bluegrass and old timey. However, he retains his own distinct sound and has influenced many other musicians.

In 1995 Byron returned to his home state of Oklahoma where he opened the Double Stop Fiddle Shop in historic down town Guthrie for the purpose of "visiting, trading and jamming" with folks who enjoy traditional music. As a natural progression a band was formed to entertain regularly in the music hall above the fiddle shop. The Byron Berline Band found themselves in great demand around the state, as well as surrounding states, and have also had the opportunity to share their music throughout Europe and China.

In 1996 Byron started the Oklahoma International Blue-grass Festival, a festival dedicated to bluegrass music, international acts playing American roots music and keeping the country music tradition alive by educating and encouraging young musicians to enjoy a life of music. Board member Paul Disdier and his wife attended the festival this year for the second time and had the chance to meet with Byron and some of the band members. Paul reports the band is excited about coming to Alaska to perform and be a part of our festival.

2015 Guest Artists
for the Alaska Folk Festival

Byron Berline Band

Byron Berline Band
Web site: TheByronBerlineBand.com
Richard Sharp

Richard Sharp is at home on the left-handed upright and electric bass. Richard has stayed busy with more recording sessions than can be listed. He has toured with Oklahoma's own Harlow Wilcox, recording on his Grammy nominated album Groovy Grubworm. He has shared the stage with Hank Thompson, The Texas Playboys, Chris Hillman, Vince Gill, Alan Munde, John Anderson, Boxcar Willie, Wanda Jackson and Colin Raye.

Steve Short

Steve Short began playing drums in his parents' family band at a very early age. He went on to record and play with every big name imaginable, including three years with Reba McIntyre. Steve is an accomplished recording and sound engineer and produces the Berline Band's album projects. He is undoubtedly the most popular recording drummer in the Guthrie area.

Billy Perry

Billy Perry, regarded as Oklahoma’s master of the banjo. Perry has been instrumental in the music scene of the State since the age of thirteen. He has played with Bluegrass ReVue, Vince Gill, Mountain Smoke, Crossfire, and The Renegades. In addition to his banjo, Billy plays dobro and sings lead vocals.

Byron Berline

Fiddle & mandolin

Jim Fish

Jim Fish on guitar began his career as a musician playing washboard in a jug band in the early 1960's. Then Fish saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and began a decades long interest in guitar. Jim toured the states with a southern rock band called the Henry Paul Band and released two albums on Atlantic Records in the late 1970's. The band's first gig was opening for the Rolling Stones in Florida. Jim's interest in Clarence White's singular guitar playing guided him towards bluegrass music. Fish uses a custom made "vintaged" Triggs acoustic guitar and a Telecaster.

Greg Burgess

Greg Burgess has been playing guitar and fiddle for over 30 years. Associations with fiddlers like Clark Forshee, Amos Hedrick, Ace Sewell, Russell O'Neal, Herman Johnson, Dick Barrett, Orville Burns and, of course, Byron Berline, helped form Greg's fiddling style. Greg has won the Oklahoma state Fiddle Championship numerous times. He has recorded and/or shared the stage with a number of musical greats including Hank Thompson, Leon Raush, Jody Miller, Mel Tillis, Moe Bandy, Wanda Jackson, Becky Hobbs plus Asleep at the Wheel.