old-time fiddler, Blountville
National Heritage Fellowship (2002)
Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2003)
Photo by Robert Cogswell
East Tennessee fiddler Ralph Blizard (1918-2004) enjoyed two musical careers, first as a young man, and then in later life. In 1932, barely a teenager, Blizard first formed The Southern Ramblers and for over twenty years played actively on local radio stations and at live concerts, but responsibilities as a young father eventually led him away from music for more dependable income. Upon retirement from Eastman Kodak in 1980, he resumed playing to gain a new reputation as that era’s finest interpreter of the long-bow style and repertory of Dickson County’s famous fiddler, Arthur Smith. Blizard took part in the Tennessee program at the 1986 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, and with young accompanists in his reconstituted New Southern Ramblers he gained a wide audience and many students among old-time enthusiasts nationwide.
For Ralph Blizard’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
To see Ralph Blizard’s profile in the 2003 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.
For more on Ralph Blizard, go to:
Youtube addr for 2003 Gov Awd video profile
For further reading, see:
Peter Anick, “Ralph Blizard: Rambling with a Southern Rambler ,” Fiddler Magazine (Spring, 1999). Available online at http://www.fiddle.com/Articles.page?Index=21&ArticleID=18903.
Bowman, James D., “Ralph Blizard: Gentlemanly Old Time Fiddler,” Fiddler Magazine 12, #2 (Summer, 2005): 21-23.
Jamison, Phil, “Remembering Ralph Blizard,” Fiddler Magazine 12, #2 (Summer, 2005): 24.
Lilly, John, “Blizard Train,” insert notes to Blizard Train, June Appal JA0056 (1989; CD reissue 2005).
-------, “Ralph Blizard (1918-2004),” Sing Out!49, #1 (Spring 2005): 216-17.
Orr, Doug, “Ralph Blizard: The Long Bow Master,” Old-Time Herald 5, #6 (Nov/Jan, 1996/97): 14-17, 55.
Ralph Blizard & The New Southern Ramblers, Blizard Train, June Appal JA0056 (1989; CD reissue 2005)
John Lilly and Ralph Blizard, Blue Highway, John Lilly Music (1992, CD reissue 2005)
Ralph Blizard & The New Southern Ramblers, Southern Ramble, Rounder CD 0352 (CD, 1995)
Carrying on the Traditions: Appalachian Fiddling Today, Fiddler Magazine FMV-01 (VHS, 1997?)
Ralph Blizard & The New Southern Ramblers, Fox Chase, Yodel-Ay-Hee CD030 (CD, 2000)
Ralph Blizard Fiddles, Blizard 0989C (cassette, 1984)