Cultural Percussionist

Vassar Clements Day

Vassar Carlton Clements (April 25, 1928 – August 16, 2005) was a Grammy Award-winning American jazz, swing, and bluegrass fiddler. Clements has been dubbed the Father of Hillbilly Jazz, an improvisational style that blends and borrows from swing, hot jazz, and bluegrass along with roots also in country and other musical traditions.

Clements was born in Kinard, Florida,[1] but grew up in Kissimmee, Florida. He taught himself to play the fiddle at age 7 and the first song he learned was “There’s an Old Spinning Wheel in the Parlor”. Soon, Clements formed a local string band with two first cousins, Red and Gerald. Gerald was the fiddle player and when he got married and left, Clements had to pick up the fiddle. In his early teens, he met Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boyswhen they came to Florida to visit Clements’ stepfather who knew Chubby Wise. Clements heard Wise play and was impressed.

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