> Henry's Bio
Recordings, MP3's, album notes, graphics:
Henry the Fiddler
Henry started life as Henry Tarrson in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois. His musical career started with group piano studies at age 7 in the Evanston public schools. He took up the violin at age 9. Henry studied and played classical music in Evanston's grade school, high school and all-city orchestras. In 1971, after serving in the United States Army during the Vietnam era, Henry took on the stage name Henry the Fiddler. He began an odyssey of traveling and fiddling across the United States and Canada. In the past two decades Henry has earned a reputation as A Minstrel in Our Time. In his travels Henry has learned 30 styles of music from around the world. These include Western Swing, Old Timey, Bluegrass, Blues, Folk, Country, Rock, Pop, Movies and Broadway, Gypsy/Hungarian, Spanish/Mexican/Latin and many of the European ethnic styles.
Henry has been a frequent performer at festivals throughout North America and on the National Public Radio program, Folk Festival USA. He has been a frequent winner and special entertainer in many fiddling contests across America. In 1976, Henry was honored as one of the United States' top 20 fiddle players at the National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest held in Weiser, Idaho. He has also won awards at the Union Grove Fiddlers' Convention, Union Grove, North Carolina and the Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana. In the late 70's, Henry toured the United States in a school bus with some of his friends, entertaining at colleges and community concert series.
In addition to fiddling, Henry is an avid computer enthusiast, having gotten interested in them in 1964 during high school. He has also worked as a systems analyst and computer consultant when he wasn't busy fiddling around. In 1980, Henry changed his name legally to Henry the Fiddler to avoid "the endless hassles of having two names–nobody knew the old one anymore anyway" he says! During the 80's Henry lived and worked in Boulder, Colorado and Seattle, Washington where he split his career between his two loves, music and computers. In Seattle, Henry offered a strolling violin and fiddle service. He is well known in the Northwest United States and has played for many a birthday, anniversary, wedding, convention or holiday celebration. In 1987 Henry was an honored guest performer at the Washington State Legislative Gala which included Governor Booth Gardner.
In 1992 Henry's love of the minstrel traveling life overtook him and he once again hit the open road. In addition to his fiddle, Henry travels with an interesting novelty instrument, the musical saw. Playing music on saw blades is a dying art and Henry is doing his part to revive it. He started playing the saw seriously in 1988 and plays favorites on it such as Over the Rainbow and Ghost Riders in the Sky. Most of Henry's programs are unique as he likes to tailor them to the mood and desires of his audiences. Henry likes to present his shows in a relaxed, intimate manner and is a firm believer in audience participation. He has often had children play his fiddle and has been known to give lessons on the musical saw to curious adults and children alike.
During 1992 Henry appeared in many states across America. In January and February he appeared in Quartzsite and Phoenix, Arizona with Terry Raff, The Singing Mountain Man of Kooskia, Idaho. Here, Terry & Henry entertained the "snowbird" retirees. In March, Henry stopped in at Branson, Missouri, known as The Live Country Music Capital of the World. He quickly found a job working for the summer in a duo with Nashville song writer Bethany Reynolds on a Branson riverboat, The Lake Queen. While in the Ozarks, Henry frequented another of his favorite music spots, Mountain View, Arkansas. In recent years, Mountain View has become known as The Folk Music Capital of the USA.
In 1993, Henry moved his base of operations from Seattle to Austin, Texas in order to be more centrally located. Over the next 4 years he spent the summers playing the festivals and fiddle contests. In the winters he performed in over 60 of the RV parks and retirement communities of the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, just across the border from Mexico. For this market, Henry developed a one man variety show which includes violin, fiddle, musical saw, humor and stories from the road. The winter retirement areas attract many seasoned entertainers. Henry's path would often cross with Terry Raff, The Singing Mountain Man, with whom he had previously worked in Arizona. Whenever their schedules would permit, Henry and Terry would team up to sing and play the early country music of the wild west. Another entertainment team that frequented the Rio Grande Valley was Suzanne and Jim, a married couple who sang, played guitar and banjo and did mountain clogging. Once again, schedules permitting, Henry would team up with them for a fun show.
Another focus of Henry's entertainment is school programs for children. He has done shows in the schools of New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas, California and Colorado. These include liberal doses of education and audience participation. The children hear and learn the history of both the instruments and the music. They are encouraged to clap and sing along. Henry teaches them basics of how to play both the fiddle and musical saw. He then has volunteers come on stage and assists them in playing the instruments, much to the delight of the other children and their teachers. Whenever children are present in the audience of his regular shows, Henry tries to include them if time permits. Henry also performs for senior citizens, living history events and historical dances.
During 1994 and 1995 Henry traveled extensively abroad. The Holland America Line hired him to entertain in the theaters aboard four of its luxury cruise ships, including its flagship, the Rotterdam. These boats all feature mini orchestras so Henry charted his show and had live accompaniment! While with Holland America, Henry traveled to such exotic Caribbean destinations as Acapulco, the Virgin Islands, the Panama Canal, Grand Cayman, Cartagena, Columbia and Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. This experience whetted Henry's appetite for more world travel. So, in 1995 he booked a round-the-world airline ticket and spent over 5 months minstreling his way while circumnavigating the globe. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure took Henry to 8 countries: the Czech Republic, Germany, England, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. Being a spur-of-the-moment trip there wasn't time for advanced bookings. So Henry played the streets of the world and picked up casual jobs along the way. In Thailand he sat in with a country band on the island, Koh Samui.
Henry has released two recordings on his own label, Fiddlededoo Records. Henry the Fiddler and friends, The First Album was originally released in 1977. It features 14 tunes representing a wide variety of musical styles from around the world. The second is entitled Twin Fiddle Favorites and was released in 1992. This recording features one of Henry's favorite twin fiddling partners, Mike Oenbring of Granite Falls, Washington. Henry loves to play a harmony part, known as "twin fiddling" or "seconding" in the fiddle world. Twin Fiddle Favorites features 32 old standard and western swing tunes played in harmony by Mike and Henry.
Henry enjoys the simple things in life which explains his favorite hobbies–hiking, camping and getting back to nature. This also explains his enthusiasm for events with a pioneer theme and his love of old timey mountain music. Recently Henry's concern for the environment and natural things has caused him to assess the impact of selling plastic recordings. As a result, his recordings are available for sale at this website. Henry is available worldwide for his full range of entertainment services.