Presenter: Dr. Matthew Backes
How often do you get to hear music and then have a high-energy conversation about its role
in historical traditions, its cultural influence, and its style and technique? Until the early twentieth
century, the fiddle was the centerpiece of American folk music and folk culture. In this interactive
session, Dr. Matthew Backes explores the origins and history of American fiddle music – covering
a range of styles and modes of expression – and raises along the way big questions about musical
tradition and music making.
Dr. Matthew Backes is passionate about stringed instruments; he started playing at 15 years
old. When he’s not fiddling, singing, or picking mandolin or guitar, Dr. Backes teaches American
Studies at Rutgers University. A historian who holds a Ph.D. in American History, Dr. Backes
combines his passion for fiddling with his fascination with historical studies as often as he can. He
also performs regularly with his bluegrass band, The Magnolia Street String Band.