Tracy Schwarz is one of the greatest traditional fiddlers in America. His credits run from the New Lost City Ramblers and the Strange Creek Singers to recordings with other traditional musicians, his family, and in more recent years with many Cajun greats. Born in New York City but raised in New England and New Jersey, Schwarz first came to love country music from radio broadcasts of the late '40s. The music he heard inspired him to learn the banjo and guitar. While in college, Schwarz also mastered the mandolin and the bass fiddle. He soon began playing in assorted bluegrass bands around Washington, D.C. During the early '60s, Schwarz enlisted in the Army for two years and during that time learned to play the fiddle. He began working with the New Lost City Ramblers as a replacement for Tom Paley in 1962, and eventually became a full-time member for ten years; his involvement in the band later tapered off as he became more interested in spending time on his Pennsylvania farm. He continued to appear with other bands, most notably the Strange Creek Singers through the 1970s. Also during the '70s, Schwarz became increasingly interested in Cajun music after performing with Dewey Balfa at the 1974 University of Chicago Folk Festival. Subsequently, he appeared on two Smithsonian Folkways albums with Balfa, including 1976's Traditional Cajun Fiddle: Instruction by Tracy Schwarz and Dewey Balfa and 1977's Cajun Fiddle Old & New with Dewey Balfa. Since 1989, Schwarz and his wife musician Ginny Hawker have continued to perform, teach, and explore new areas of traditional music. They have released two albums together, 2000's Good Songs for Hard Times and 2004's Draw Closer.
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