Fiddler Arvil Freeman of Buncombe County has performed and passed on his traditions for over fifty years and is known for his smooth and melodic long-bow style. Born into a musical family in the Paw Paw community of Madison County, Arvil grew up playing local parties and dances with his brother, Gordon, and their friend Ralph Lewis, a former member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys. Arvil learned many tunes as a boy from Tommy Hunter, a 1989 North Carolina Heritage Award recipient.
Arvil plays somewhere “in between” old-time and bluegrass, and he respects the traditions' shared repertoire. “Those tunes have always been around,” he said.
He has won countless fiddling competitions, including the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, Union Grove, and Georgia's Official State Fiddlers’ Convention.
He has a reputation as the fiddler in the Asheville area, having performed for decades with the lead band at the annual Shindig on the Green, and at numerous festivals and concerts in the region.
Now Arvil devotes his time to teaching rather than performing and he instructs his students by ear, the old-time way. Pupils praise his calm and patient teaching style and demeanor. Many of them, including Josh Goforth, Emma and Bryan McDowell, and Danielle Bishop used the knowledge and skills they gained from him to become professional musicians and well-known contest winners themselves.
“If you wanted to be good, you listened to Arvil.”
—Bryan Sutton, musician