Documentary on Old Time Fiddler set air on SDPT

The tales and tunes of the South Dakota Old Time Fiddlers move to television on Wednesday, May 5, when a fellow musician's documentary on the group gets a broadcast premiere on South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

"South Dakota Old Time Fiddlers: Musical Heritage of the Great Plains," was filmed in 2008 by Dr. Stephanie Lynch Taylor, now an assistant professor in the Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN, and three of her students. It had its first public airing last October at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and is set to air beginning at 9:30 p.m. Central/8:30 p.m. on SDPB TV and SDPB1 (digital channels 2 and 2.1).

Taylor, a Vermillion native and longtime violinist and competitor in the South Dakota Old-Time Fiddle Contest in Yankton, created the 30-minute documentary from hours of interviews and performances to preserve the unique history of the men and women who keep old-time music alive.

"I grew up with all these people as 'grandparents,'" Taylor recalls of talented teachers like Wilbur, Elizabeth and Jarle Foss and Chester Olsen. "I saw that if I didn't capture their history and tell their story, no one would. I initially thought that 'history' meant analyzing their music, but I soon realized that it was all about the people.

"They started just to keep the music alive, and it's become not so much about the 'contest' they have but going to nursing homes and county fairs and sharing the music with people."

Taylor's project was funded by a grant from MTSU's Faculty Research and Creative Activity Committee and made use of equipment from the university's Department of Electronic Media Communication. For more information, visit the SDPB website at and jump to "Wednesday, May 5" on the pull-down menu.

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