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Picking & Fiddling Judges

Byron Berline

Byron Berline is a three-time National Fiddle Champion who turned to a musical career after earning a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education at the University of Oklahoma. Originally from Oklahoma, where he began playing the fiddle at age 5, Byron lived and worked in Los Angeles for 26 years before returning to his home state in 1995.

Byron’s professional career reads like Who’s Who in the music business.Byron is one of the most sought after session fiddlers and his long list of recording credits include: The Band, The Byrds, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Manhattan Transfer, Bob Dylan, John Denver, Elton John, Olivia Newton-John, Burt Reynolds, Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart, Kay Starr, Hoyt Axton, Alabama, Susie Bogguss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Joe Diffie, Vince Gill, Arlo Guthrie, Mickey Gilley, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Lee, Willie Nelson, Red Steagall, Doug Stone, Tammy Wynette, Jethro Burns, The Dillards, John Hartford, Bill Monroe, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Don Reno, Earl Scruggs, Mason Williams, and numerous symphony orchestras.

Byron scored his first major motion picture in 1975, Stay Hungry for director Bob Rafelson. He has appeared in Star Trek, Blaze, Back to the Future III and Basic Instinct. He has been interviewed by major city newspapers and music magazines throughout the world, and has toured the United States extensively, Europe often, China, Japan, Australia, Northern Africa and the South Pacific. In his spare time Byron enjoys producing albums for his friends and himself.

Byron was inducted into Oklahoma’s Musicians Hall of Fame, named Oklahoma’s Ambassador of Goodwill, been featured artist at the international Convention of the Violin Society of America, and conceived and planned the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival since its beginnings in 1997.

Byron Berline has been touted as “one of the most inventive fiddlers ever …” His skill, versatility and artistry continue to be recognized by his peers, the press and audiences worldwide. He is a witty, charming personality and his music is evidence of that.

Justin Branum

Justin Branum is a fiddler and multi-instrumentalist whose main work expertise lies in recording sessions/overdubs, touring, producing, and teaching music. Growing up playing western swing, bluegrass, country music, and old-time fiddle tunes, he was frequently playing in various instrument contests and has won the Grand Master Fiddler Contest, National Fiddle Contest - Adult Division, Tennessee State Fiddle Championship, Tennessee State Mandolin Championship, Texas State Fiddle Championship - Gone to Texas Division among many others before retiring from the contest scene. During his performing career based out of Nashville, Tennessee, Justin has played with a wide range of touring acts and artists including Lee Ann Womack, Sons of the Pioneers, Son Volt, Pokey LaFarge, Bobby Flores and the Yellow Rose Band, Roland White, The Jim Hurst Trio, and Marty Haggard. He holds a master’s degree in jazz studies from Webster University and served as an adjunct professor of music at Washington University and Webster University.

Greg Burgess

Greg Burgess has been playing guitar and fiddle for more than 40 years. Over the years, associations with fiddlers such as Clark Forshee, Amos Hedrick, Ace Sewell, Russell O'Neal, Herman Johnson, Dick Barrett, Orville Burns, Merle David, and of course Byron Berline, has helped form Greg's fiddling style. Greg is a past Oklahoma State Fiddle Champion and has been ranked in the top 10 at a number of national level fiddle contests. Greg has recorded and/or shared the stage with a number of musical greats including Hank Thompson, Leon Rausch, Jody Miller, Mel Tillis, Moe Bandy, Billy Walker, Wanda Jackson, Becky Hobbs, Red Steagall, Suzy Bogguss, Asleep at the Wheel and many others. Greg has also been included in the Folk Life section of the Oklahoma History Center and is a 2019 Western Swing Hall of Fame inductee.

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