Captain Fiddle Music

Ryan and Brennish



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Ryan Thomsons music biography

Ryan Thomson is a music and dance professional who has been honored by inclusion on

both the Traditional and Touring Artist rosters of the New Hampshire State Council on the

Arts He is a past winner of the Northeastern USA Regional award at the National Fiddle

Contest and is a multi-instrumentalist who performs and teaches weekly on fiddle, banjo,

flute, piano, accordian, pennywhistle and other instruments. You can watch and listen to

his performances on these instruments on his You Tube channel.  In his spare time he

enjoys playing chamber music in an amateur classical ensemble.

He is available to contribute his musical talent to charitable organizations. As an eligible

NEST grant artist his performances for non-profit organizations can be funded up to 50%

through NEFA (New England Foundation for the Arts).

He studied science at San Diego State University, then attended the University of New

Hampshire where he taught a credit course in the Psychology of Music while a graduate

student. He acquired the nick name "Captain Fiddle," from his co-workers on college radio

WUNH where he played his fiddle live on his fiddling and folk music show for several years.

He continued on radio with a regular Sunday night show on National Public Radio WEVO.

In the early 1980's he passed an audition to play in an award winning Nashville based

country band and toured the eastern states from Missisippi to Maine. He twice received the

nomination for "Country Fiddler of the Year," from the Massachusetts Country Music


In 1994 he won a Boston Music Awards nomination for Best Ethnic/International Act for his

accordion playing while leading the Crawdad Wranglers cajun and zydeco band which has

been playing for cajun dancers in New England for over 20 years. Ryan was invited in 2000 as

a special guest artist to perform at the Celebrate New Hampshire Festival sponsored by the

Smithsonian. In 2003 he was hired to tutor fiddle at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes

in Washington.

After years of searching libraries from coast to coast he had discovered that no general

book about folk fiddling existed. He decided to fill that niche and in 1985 founded Captain

Fiddle Publications by authoring his first book, The Fiddler's Almanac, a general reference

source about fiddlers and fiddling which can be presently found in over 3000 libraries in the

United States and Canada. He has since authored numerous fiddling and fiddle books,

recordings, and instructional DVD videos on various musical topics. Ryan's works have

received top reviews from the American Library Association and many other music

publications. His solo clawhammer banjo CD, Great Bay Stomp, has received excellent

reviews, for example.

In 1990 Ryan developed focal dystonia,  a genetic disease which temporarily prevented him

from playing his violin. He overcame his disability by devising a musician's cure for focal

dystonia. He converted his fiddle to left handed, relearned to play violin, and earned his

first trophy playing violin left handed at the Southern Vermont Scottish Highland Games.

His experiences have made him an excellent fiddle teacher and workshop leader and he

been invited to speak at disability forums including VSA. Watch video samples of both his

right handed violin playing - right #1 , right#2, right #3, and left handed violin playing left

#1, left #2, left#3.

Click here to hear Ryan Thomson speak about his experiences with that disorder. His

research into handedness has resulted in the publication of an informative documentary

work on the history and practice of musicians who play violin left handed - "Playing Violin

and Fiddle Left Handed." He has also authored several instructional videos for left handed

musicians including - Left Handed Fiddling for Beginners. and Left handed banjo playing.

For the past several years Ryan has been actively performing with his son Brennish as the

Fiddling Thomsons. They won the Twin Fiddling award at Lowell National Historic Park,

2010, and perform widely to far flung places such as England, California, and China. Links to

their performances can be found HERE. Their new CD album has been well received.