Lee Stripling: Keeper of the toe-tapping tradition

Lee Stripling

Lee Stripling
performing in 2006.

From the red clay of Alabama to the soggy bottom of the Pacific Northwest, Lee Stripling sparked the grumpy to smile and the lazy to get up and dance after taking up the fiddle seriously again in his 70s. Vibrant until 87, Lee played old-time fiddle with the driving sound that was the hallmark of his father, Charlie Stripling, who was Alabama's most recorded fiddler.

A new generation fell for Lee’s cheerful tunes that harken to his prime. Playing tunes from the Great Depression, the war years and the silky harmony of cowboy songs from Bob Wills and the Sons of the Pioneers, Lee and his bands released two CDs and appeared at venues around the country.

Though Lee passed away on April 20, 2009 at age 87, his contribution to music and optimistic approach to life continue to be honored.

Scholarship benefits young fiddlers

Lee was delighted to be a bridge for old-time music that spanned from contemporary 10-year olds back to one of Lee's own mentors, who was born before the Civil War. That bridge is now a scholarship. Three young fiddlers benefitted last year.

Please consider contributing to the fund to provide opportunity for promising young fiddlers who'd like to attend Centrum's Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, where Lee was twice on the faculty.

Make checks out to Centrum, and send to Centrum, PO Box 1158, Port Townsend, WA, 98368. Please include Lee Stripling Scholarship in the memo line, along with a note including that designation.

Next step for documentary: music rights

The latest version of filmmaker Jeri Vaughn's wonderful documentary, “Winging My Way Back Home: The Stripling Fiddle Legacy”, debuted to rousing success at the Belk Community Center in Belk, Alabama on Nov. 13, 2010 as part of the Charlie Stripling Tribute Fiddle Fest and Fish Fry.

The film will be released once funds are raised to secure music rights. If you have tens of thousands of dollars burning a hole in your pocket or knowledge of an appropriate grant, please contact Jeri Vaughn.

Lee's daughters thank his many friends in the music community and beyond for their years of support and kindness. Contact Carol Stripling or Sherry Stripling with questions.

Woke without missing a beat

The hard-working son
of a sharecropper, Lee would fall asleep with his legs dangling off the chair at barn dances when he was 9 or 10, prompting his famed Alabama father, Charlie Stripling, to tap him awake with the fiddle bow. Legend has it Lee didn't miss a beat.

Documentary gets another grant. The debut in downtown Belk, Alabama gets a standing ovation.