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News / Clark County News

Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Fiddling love born in utero

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 29, 2014, 5:00pm

Aarun Carter fell in love with the fiddle in utero.

Her mother, Denice Carter, was a Colorado fiddle champion who couldn’t help exposing her unborn child to the sweet sound of singing strings; by the time she was a toddler, Aarun said, “I was trying to grab her fiddle all the time, and it was old and expensive. So she gave me my own little plastic violin and taught me.”

Aarun learned faster than a violin bow flashing through “Turkey in the Straw”; she won the “small fry” category in a Colorado state fiddle championship at all of 4 years old.

“I guess I was just drawn to competing and performing. I love to be in the spotlight. I love to show off,” she said with a laugh.

Aarun played in the orchestra at an arts magnet high school in Denver and then went to South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, to study commercial music. That’s a course of study in everything you need to succeed, from musical chops and people skills to business and marketing, Aarun said.

Meanwhile, mother Denice moved the family back to near her own roots in the Oregon towns of The Dalles and Pendleton. They settled in Vancouver and Aarun followed.

“I just love the area. It’s so beautiful,” she said.

Now 25, Aarun is getting serious mileage from her commercial-music schooling in Texas. She’s got numerous projects underway simultaneously: performing with numerous bands and regularly at 9 p.m. on the second Monday of each month with her Western swing band, Well Swung, at Portland’s Landmark Saloon, 4847 S.E. Division St.; teaching fiddle students of all ages, both in person and over the Internet; driving “Fiddle TV,” an Internet show that highlights young musicians dedicated to the revival of old-fashioned Americana genres like bluegrass and Western swing; recording examples of fiddle songs for an instructional Mel Bay book; and working with My Talent Forge, an online musical school.

A bit of news she needs to break to aspiring fiddle players: It’s a beautiful instrument — and you’ve got to earn that beauty. “It takes a lot of hard work. Some people think it’s going to be easy. It takes a long time and a lot of practice.”

So says the child fiddle prodigy. When The Columbian caught up with her earlier this week, Aarun was teaching and performing with her boyfriend, guitarist Jonathan Trawick, at Deep End Ranch in Santa Paula, Calif., where there will be a CD release party Saturday. If you can’t make it down there, check Aarun’s website, www.aaruncarter.com, for information about purchasing “The Deep End Sessions, Vol. 1.” That website is also where you can watch videos of Aarun or listen to her playing. Plus, check out “Fiddle TV” at www.fiddle-tv.com.

Aarun said she’ll be back in Vancouver for a fiddle camp set for Aug. 4-7 at Red Barn Studios in Fisher’s Landing. Luke Price, another national fiddle champion, will be teaching there, too. And so will Denice Carter, the fiddling mom who started it all. Email Redbarnfiddlecamp@gmail.com or visit www.denicecarter.com for more information.

Bits ‘n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.