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This is one of a series of interviews and articles
produced by Lilly.

Interview with Steve Day, fiddle player
from Kentucky
© Lilly Drumeva-O'Reilly

Steve Day is a renowned fiddler and violin teacher from Bowling Green, Kentucky. He currently plays with the band Ronnie Reno and the Reno Tradition. Ronnie is the oldest son of bluegrass legend Don Reno.

In August 2013 I worked as a Fulbright scholar at Western Kentucky University, researching the history of bluegrass music. Steve Day's name was mentioned as one of the leading fiddle players in the area. I decided to give him a call and invite him for an interview. He returned my call immediately and a day later we met in his office. Steve is a solid man with strong features, probably in his late forties. He is easy and pleasant to talk to. Here is what he shared with me:

How did you get involved in bluegrass music?

I started playing in my family's band. At the age of 8 I picked up the guitar and at 14 I switched to fiddle. I studied classical violin for 8 years. I also learned the fiddle and won a lot of contests. I listened to the Bluegrass Cardinals, I loved their harmonies. I said to myself: "That's what I'd like to be one day!" I became a member of the band "Continental Divide".

What is bluegrass music to you?

I love entertaining. When I go out on stage, I try to give it 100% every time. People want to hear good music and have fun. Bluegrass music has been my whole life. I like the feeling, the drive, the high energy, the lonesome sound of the harmonies, it is just awesome!

Tell me about your teaching work?

I do 30 minutes lessons in fiddle and violin, here in my office. My students are all ages. Sometimes an elderly person comes to me and says "I know it is too late to become a good fiddle player but if it is possible, I'd like to learn one tune and play it well." I adapt each lesson to the level of my students and teach them what they need.

How would you describe your style?

I like high energy fiddle tunes. I am an aggressive player. I was influenced by Kenny Baker, Glenn Duncan, Bobby Hicks. It doesn't matter if I play a big hall or a small jam, I always give 100%, because people want to be entertained.

Do you like also country music?

Not the new stuff. I like old country music. It is real. They have done it right. They have done it the hard way.

Besides music, what else do you do?

I have a farm and raise cattle with the help of my son, my father and a hired hand. We have about fifty cows which we sell as breeding stock.

last updated : December 21, 2013 2:13 PM