McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

October 22, 2007

Ginsburg wins state fiddling championship

By Susan Brittingham

Oklahoma is well known for its award-winning musicians, and now the name Michael Ginsburg can be added to that distinguished list.

Ginsburg recently won the 2007 Oklahoma State Fiddler’s Championship, Open Division, at the Tulsa State Fair.

The fiddling champion has studied violin for most of his life, but he really wanted to win that fiddling contest. So he contacted Jana Jae to help him study the fiddle.

Jae, who was on “Hee Haw” and was a member of Buck Owens’ Buckaroos, rarely coaches, but she felt Ginsburg’s music was well worth her time.

Seven days before the competition, Jae, the fiddle champion of Oklahoma, gave Ginsburg a new list of songs to learn. Determined to learn them and win that title, he practiced for at least three hours each day.

“As last the day of the fair came,” Ginsburg said. “I was there and everywhere I looked, people were playing fiddles and they all were good. I found a guitar player, Monte Gaylor, who Jana Jae had recommended, to accompany me in the contest.

“He was wonderful, and had been a National Fiddling Champion.

“My first piece was a hoedown called “Bill Cheatham.” The audience started smiling and clapping. My second selection was a waltz going all the way back to the Civil War, called “Ashokan Farewell.” I noticed people started wiping their eyes.

“Then I played a lively tune called “I Don’t Love Nobody” and they started smiling, yelling and clapping.

“The contestants finally finished and one of the officials called me up and told me that the waltz I played was the most heartbreaking waltz he had ever heard and would make a glass eye cry.

“He told the audience that they wouldn’t hear a better waltz all day.

“I had a perfect score, not a single deduction, and I was selected as the Oklahoma Champion Fiddle Player in the Open Division.”

Now the champion fiddle player and his accompanist, Kathy Brod, have plans to travel to Fruitland, Idaho, to play a concert featuring both violin and fiddle music. But they also have plans to play closer to home.

“We’ll be playing at the First Presbyterian Church on East Blair in Wilburton on Saturday,” Ginsburg said, adding that the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. “Tickets are $10 and you can get them at the door or from executive members of the Latimer County Arts Council.

“And later Jana Jae is coming here and we’ll play a concert that will set McAlester on fire with hot fiddle music. I think the concert will be spectacular and I’ll let everyone know the date beforehand.”

Ginsburg also teaches people how to play both fiddle and violin. He can be reached at 490-0618.

Contact Susan Brittingham at 421-2029 or sbrittingham@mcalesternews.com.