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Monday, 27 June, 2011

Congrats To Big Jim Griffith

Tucson's legendary Big Jim Griffith: 2011 NEA National Heritage Fellow.

Griffith150For more than four decades, Jim Griffith has been devoted to celebrating and honoring the folkways and religious expression found along the United States-Mexico border. "Big Jim," as he is affectionately known, is the personification of the intent of the Bess Lomax Hawes Fellowship due to his influential work both as an academic and public folklorist that has proliferated into numerous cultural ventures, including directing the Southwest Folklore Center at the University of Arizona and founding the annual Tucson Meet Yourself Festival.

This award is the nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts and each of the nine recipients will receive a one-time award of $25,000. The NEA National Heritage Fellowships public programs are made possible with support from the Golden Corral Corporation.

I've had the pleasure of playing music with Big Jim several times at jams. It's much better when I put the banjo down and just listen.

He's recorded a few CDs with Meghan Merker on fiddle (under the name Arivada Ramblers). Unfortunately, they make it impossible to actually buy the CDs. And they have virtually no presence on YouTube. But if you'd like to hear what they sound like, go here and download #20, "Walk Jimmy Walk."

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