Famous violinist Kenny Sidle is a talented but humble musician
HANOVER – Famous violinist Kenny Sidle, a Hanover resident who entertained audiences in Ohio and beyond from the age of 5 to his later years, winning competitions in the Midwest and Canada, has died in the age of 90.
Sidle, who was born in a tiny log cabin in Toboso, Ohio on July 20, 1931, was named a “National Music Treasure” by the National Endowment for the Arts when it awarded him the 1988 Arts Fellowship Award.
The Grand Ole Opry invited him to join the Opry staff group, but he had recently been hired at Owens Corning, so he declined the offer, putting aside a career as a musician to raise his family. After 20 years with Owens, he retires and devotes much of his time to his music.
Frosty Pierce, who lives near Dresden in County Muskingum, performed with Sidle in the Frosty Morning Bluegrass Band until about five years ago. Oscar Ball, Norm Gutridge, Pinky Bartoe, and Luke Daughtery also performed in the group.
Playing in the squad in his 70s and 80s, Sidle could still put on an impressive performance, Pierce said. He also liked to tell stories and talk about music.
“It was a machine on the violin,” Pierce said. “Someone said he had a button on his chin and when he hit that button with the violin, he’s a genius. When he put that violin in his hand, the music came out of him. was supposed to be a violin player.
“He was proud of his violin, but no boasting. It just never got to his head. He was good enough to play with anyone. He’d say, now Frosty, listen to this. You might as well stop what you’re doing and listen to it. You were going to listen to it. “
Sidle, whose playing the violin could bring joy and happiness to his audience or make them cry, was a sentimental person, Pierce said.
“He was one of the most caring people I have ever seen,” Piece said. “Some songs would bring tears to his eyes. He loved children. School tragedies, he couldn’t even talk about it. He would cry. I’m just happy to know him and happy to call him my friend. He was just a great guy.
Gutridge, from Hanover, said Sidle was the band member everyone knew.
“He was a Class A violin player,” Gutridge said. “One day I was at McDonalds on Union Street and I heard women talking. One lady said, ‘There’s Kenny Sidle guitarist.
“He got us some really good jobs. One was at the Dayton Art and Music Fest. He was a national treasure, a phenomenal guy and a phenomenal player. His eyes lit up when he started talking about music.
Sidle, who learned to play the violin from his father and uncle, made his first public appearance on the stage of a traveling medicine show at the age of 5.
In the 1940s, when he was 15, he and his sister Margie were invited to perform at Hillbilly Park in eastern Newark. Sidle was then hired as a member of the staff group there, where he met Wayne Newton. Later in the 1940s, he and his sister performed live on WCLT Radio.
He entered the United States Army in 1953 and served two years. He married Evelyn Wright, of Frazeysburg, in 1955.
It was in 1967, after his years playing at Hillbilly Park, that Sidle began performing as a member of the Wheeling Jamboree Orchestra in West Virginia. There he met Bill Anderson of the Grand Ole Opry, who invited Sidle to join the Opry staff group. But, Sidle declined the offer.
Gutridge said: “He wanted to have a family and be there for his family, so he just wanted to play locally.”
In the 1970s, Sidle performed with the Cavalcade Cut-Ups, the house group of the North American Country Cavalcade, a program that airs every Saturday night from the Southern Hotel in Columbus and airs on the WMNI radio station.
He performed in the Independence Band, which performed regularly for square dances and other country music events at Flowers Music Hall in Hanover.
Bill Weaver, a friend of Sidle and a member of the Licking Valley Heritage Society, posted the Toboso sign on his Facebook page, which reads: “Toboso: Birthplace of Kenny Sidle. National Heritage Fellowship Fiddler award winner, 9-29-88. “
“For many years I walked past this sign next to the Toboso school,” Weaver wrote on Facebook. “Kenny was not only an accomplished fiddler, but a dear friend. He performed for the church just out of sight of this panel as well as in Washington DC for the President of the United States. He will be missed here and will be welcome there. “
Weaver said that although Sidle was such an acclaimed and well-known musician in the area, he was just an ordinary guy.
“He’s the most humble guy and the most loved person you can imagine,” Weaver said. “Every time I saw him, he always had something positive to say or a favorite memory to share that would involve me.”
Information for this story also comes from the records of the Advocate, the Licking Valley Heritage Society, the Ohio Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Twitter: @ kmallett1958
Here is a list, compiled by the Licking Valley Heritage Society, of some of Kenny Sidle’s awards and honors.
Dr Perry F. Harris Distinguished Fiddler Award, 1994.
Grand Masters’ Fiddle Contest Distinguished Fiddler Award, 1994.
International Canadian Open, 1964 2nd in novelty class, 4th in open.
Kentucky State Champion, 2 times.
Licking County Hall of Fame, 1991.
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Award, named it “National Music Treasure”, 1988.
Ohio Country and Western Music Award Musician of the Year, 1973-81.
Ohio Fellowship Award from the Ohio Arts Council, July 2012.
Ohio State Champion, 5 times.
Ohio State Old Time Fiddlers Competition at the Nelsonville Parade of the Hills Festival, 1969.
Paint Valley Jamboree Hall of Fame.
Pennsylvania State Champion, 3 times.
Winner of the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers contest, senior division. 2-time West Virginia State Champion.