Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest
Music Legend Award

If you would like to nominate a person or group for the 2017 Legend award, please submit your nominee(s) and justification by April 9, 2017 to: info@topangabanjofiddle.org (See full instructions below)

Pitt Kinsolving

Posthumous Congratulations to:
Pitt Kinsolving
(1932-2016)
2016 Music Legend Award Winner!

This year’s Legend Award is awarded posthumously in honor of Pitt Kinsolving. To paraphrase Woody Guthrie, “ from New York Island to California, this land was made for Pitt.” Pitt’s earliest experiences with folk music began in the late 1950’s with hoots on the Yale campus, local performances in New York, New England and later on Ireland and Indonesiana. He was also involved with the Pinewoods Folk Music Club and the Picking & Singing Gathering on the East Coast. Along with Lisa Null, he was instrumental in founding Green Linnet Recording Studios and recording over 10 albums.

Relocating to the West coast in 1979, he has been involved with the Santa Monica Traditional Folk Music Club, Songmakers, Audio Engineering Associates and the Pasadena Folk Music Society. To many, he has also been a teacher and instrument maker.

For the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest &. Folk Festival, he has been a contestant, judge, performer, sound mixer, board member and, for several years, president.

From the beginning, Pitt’s commitment to preserving and performing traditional folk music has been an inspiration to all, both East and West.



Past Winners

Lawrence Wines

Congratulations to:
Lawrence Wines
2015 Music Legend Award Winner!

LAWRENCE WINES is a longtime photojournalist, consultant to artists and the music industry, and events producer. His Acoustic Americana Music Guide has actively promoted thousands of individual artists, bands, tours, and festivals, including Topanga, throughout California and beyond for over 12 years. Reporting “inside music news,” it’s even a “go-to” source for other journalists. He’s acclaimed for teaching artists how to have successful experiences with the media, a key to getting traction.

He created and hosted the weekly 4-hour broadcast/simulcast radio show “Tied to the Tracks,” a multiple-award winner honored among the “Best of L.A.” winners in Los Angeles magazine. Its live interviews, performances and on-air music collaborations featured artists playing upcoming festivals, including TBFC, the Irish Faire, Cowboy Festivals, Cajun & Blues Fests, Huck Finn, Stagecoach, Live Oak, and more. Guest artists played live and talked about a festival or concert before it happened, building its audience.

He pioneered the now familiar terms “acoustic americana” and “acoustic renaissance” back in the 1990s, broadening the genre to bridge gaps between traditional Folk, Americana and younger contemporary acoustic artists, growing the audience appeal for related kinds of music.

As a photojournalist, Lawrence has convinced hardboiled editors to let him cover folk-americana and traditional music and musicians. He’s out there for online and print outlets, promoting, attending and reporting on festivals and music conferences, large and small. He’s met and interviewed iconic figures, and was writing about great bands before they gained fame, including Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford & Sons, Hot Club of Cowtown, and many more.

He was one of the first journalists to promote Folk Alliance and actually attend and cover it. When the FAR-West Conference came to Woodland Hills, he devoted his entire four-hour radio show to live performances by its artists from all over, gaining exposure for the music and touring/performing artists.

Here at Topanga, he has been an emcee for many years. He says, “Music Legend honoree! All these trailblazers and mentors. People with passion and devotion. Grammy winners. Howard and Roz’s ‘FolkScene.&rsquo My fellow writers at ‘FolkWorks.’ Social justice musician Ross Altman. Grammy winner Richard Greene. Beth Lomax Hawes, whose own Smithsonian music work continued her famous family’s legacy. Sam Hinton and his Library of Congress recordings. Scottish fiddler Jan Tappan, last year’s honoree. Bluegrass pioneer Peter Feldmann. Elaine and Clark, so essential in spreading traditional music in California. Devoted music presenters and guiding lights Bob Stane and Russ and Julie. All the way back to the ones I never knew - Mel Durham, who launched the Old Time Fiddlers, and Dorian and Dalia Keyser, who all of us owe for making Topanga a great event. So many great folks! Such an honor. And now ME?! Wow!”

There’s more that music folks don’t know. He’s climbed mountains, rock and ice walls by new routes, and even frozen waterfalls. He recently completed a “30-states-in-30-days” train odyssey around America. He’s restored and run steam locomotives, founded historic preservation projects, and conceived and hosted the first-ever reunion of the crews of the two Freedom Trains - the Bicentennial train from 1975-76 and the original postwar train from 1947-49 that first broke the color barrier in the South (the reunion featured trips on a steam train and a paddlewheel steamboat). He’s taught in classrooms, studios and the wilderness, designed and built museum exhibits and authored educational, visitor, and interpretive plans for museums. He’s been involved in progressive politics, chairing the Democratic Coalition, co-founding Latinos for Social Justice, and editing the journal, “Democritus.” He’s written engineering standards, developed industrial processes, and done proposals for industries chasing multi-million dollar contracts. He’s done field geology and investigated ancient trees and climate.

Now, he’s immersed in preserving the only habitat of a critically endangered species in a single and quite beautiful mountain complex where all is slated to be destroyed by surface mining - “gone completely, natural rock arches, scenic beauty, species" habitat, and all. Erased from the face of the Earth and the mind of humankind.” Not if he can help it.

You can contact Lawrence about music, music promotion, or pretty much anything else at: tiedtothetracks@hotmail.com

Jan Tappan

Congratulations to:
Jan Tappan
2014 Music Legend Award Winner!



Jan Tappan and the Scottish Fiddlers of Los Angeles have made major contributions for more than 30 years to keep a traditional music style alive and well in Southern California.

The Scottish Fiddlers of Los Angeles were founded in 1981after several musicians discovered common musical interest at the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest and formed the first Strathspey and Reel Society in the United States. The group provides an opportunity for musicians with little experience in traditional music to get actively involved and makes it accessible for people coming from a classical background. Over the years, members have ranged in age from 5 to over 80. Their music focus centers on the heritage of Scottish fiddle music dating back to the seventeenth century and many of these early tunes have found their way into the American folk fiddle repertoire. The Scottish Fiddlers always welcome musicians playing fiddle, cello, guitar, harp and other instruments to join them for rehearsals and to play at concerts, festivals, Celtic fairs, Scottish games and gatherings, Celtic fairs and many other events. SFLA has also reliably contributed new contestants and volunteers for TBFC.

Jan Tappan has been the director of the Scottish Fiddlers of Los Angeles for 25 years and shepherded the group through its unavoidable ups and downs and constant changes in members. Whenever other rehearsal spaces disappear, her living room often is packed with 30 or more musicians.

Jan also is one of the 4 founders of the valley of the Moon Fiddle (VOM) camp, now in its 30th year. VOM is the standard to which most music camps aspire. Many amazing musicians started as kids at VOM and still show up every year. Where else would you find members of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Earth ensemble or a section leader from the San Francisco symphony sitting in as students (not instructors) with highschool kids? Jan is the chairperson for the Scottish Fiddle Revival Fiddle Competitions, which are held in dozens of states and regional winners can compete in the National Contest. This is probably the only fiddle contest that boasts a national network. She is the head judge for National Contests, as well as in regional contests in Virginia, Texas, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, North Carolina (and as a aside, she also is a TBFC judge).

Lots of interesting professional musicians cut their teeth in those contests, including Bonnie Rideout, Hanneke Cassel and Colyn Fischer. As a musician, she has toured Scotland, and performed in Germany, Italy, and Japan. She has also taught Scottish fiddle workshops across the U.S. in Virginia, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Washington, Oregon, and North Carolina. For her day job, she is a public school teacher.

Russ & Julie Paris

Congratulations to:
Russ & Julie Paris
2013 Music Legend Award Winners!



After starting their house concert series more than 16 years ago, Russ & Julie Paris were not content with hosting quality musical entertainment for their delighted guests. They proceeded to help others start their own concert series and were among the founders of Folk Alliance Region West (FAR-West), the western regional chapter of Folk Alliance International.

During those years they have presented well over one hundred concerts, featured scores of well-known and highly-entertaining artists and introduced many to appreciative new fans.

They were instrumental in the formation of FAR-West and have nurtured its growth since 2002. This annual conference brings artists together with venue hosts, deejays and music industry representatives to build fruitful, ongoing relationships that can be of great benefit to all involved. They have both served on the Board of Directors (Russ as secretary and Julie as treasurer) and in numerous other capacities. Julie is conference coordinator this year.

The proliferation of house concerts, on a national basis and beyond, has provided significant opportunities for independent acoustic musicians and songwriters. Not only do they provide venues for playing and touring, most house concerts pass all funds collected directly to the musicians, creating a revenue stream that allows them to continue writing, performing and recording their music.

FAR-West promotes the interaction between artists and the other segments of the music business, as well as the nurturing of venues to bring the artists together with their existing and future fans.

For all they have done to benefit artists, venues, fans and the music itself, we proudly award the 2013 Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival Music Legend Award to Russ & Julie Paris.

See their current schedule and history at: www.houseconcerts.us

Press release (pdf) available HERE

Bob Stane

Congratulations to:
Bob Stane
2012 Music Legend Award Winner!



Quality entertainment in Southern California does not exist in a vacuum. For 53 years it has been cultivated, encouraged and supported by Bob Stane in an award winning series of venues starting in San Diego in 1958 at The Upper Cellar. From 1961 to 1978, most folk music fans, as well as countless musicians and performers, knew Bob's club in Pasadena, The Ice House, as the place where "everyone started," and this tradition continues today at The Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena.

From the time in 1955 when Bob saw the scene at The Unicorn, L.A.'s first folk music coffee house, he knew what he wanted to do and he knew he could do it well. His second epiphany came a few years later when then 28 year old guitarist Randy Sparks, founder of the New Christy Minstrels, played at The Upper Cellar and Bob saw a performance that to this day he says is the best he has ever seen. What Bob saw when Randy performed was "extreme quality, wit, humor and a sparkling personality." These are the qualities Bob has ever since insisted performers bring to his stages. The Coffee Gallery Backstage currently hosts several hundred performances each year and gives over a thousand entertainers annually the chance to practice their art for local audiences. With a low admission cost, an intimate environment in which audiences can see as well as hear the performers, and a chance to actually meet and talk with the artists during breaks, there is no better way to enjoy, or to perform, music and songs.

After selling The Ice House in 1978, Bob tried to retire but it didn't work - for everyone else, that is. So, in 1998 Bob came out of retirement and The Coffee Gallery Backstage was born.

Just as The Ice House did during the formative years of the Los Angeles area's folk and acoustic music scene, The Coffee Gallery Backstage currently provides to performers and audiences the essential ingredients to carry these entertainment art forms to another generation.

Although Bob says he knew early in life on which side of the stage he belonged, no show at The Coffee Gallery Backstage would be whole without his own witty and informative introductions as the master of ceremonies. After 53 years, Bob says there is nothing he can't handle and audiences enthusiastically appreciate his part in always making the magic materialize.

Bob is a well-rounded showman and in 2009, his show talents extended to a mysterious part in a bit of guerrilla theater which resulted in an 18 foot, literal fork in the road being placed in Pasadena, where South St. John and Pasadena Avenues divide. This not so small work of art was presented to Bob as a birthday present and was appreciated by passers-by until the City removed it 7 months later. The Fork In The Road Gang was then formed and after much consideration, inspection and the payment of the required fees and insurance premiums, the City finally decided to allow The Fork In The Road to be replaced in the same spot where it has since become a focal point for community philanthropy such as food and toy drives.

The Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival, Inc. is proud to name Bob Stane as our Music Legend Award winner for 2012. We honor him for everything he has done to promote and preserve Folk, Bluegrass and Old-time music and we are pleased that we can all look forward to the future of quality entertainment, and a Fork In The Road, as a result of his past, current and, no doubt, future showmanship.

Steve & Leda Shapiro

FOLKWORKS
2011 Music Legend Award Winner!

Steve and Leda Shapiro have been involved in Folk Music most of their lives. As kids they went to camp, Steve played guitar and Leda enjoyed folk dancing. Then they discovered Contra Dancing along with Celtic and old-time music. They loved dancing and playing music so much that they wanted everyone to know about it!

Their friend Warren Casey of the Wicked Tinkers advised them “...that Folk Music was illegal in Los Angeles.” In FolkWorks’ first issue, it was observed that Folk Music is, if not “"illegal,” certainly hidden and yet is a vital and growing community with a voice that has its roots in people getting together, singing, playing acoustic instruments and dancing.

Thus FolkWorks, the magazine, was born. Drawing on their connections in the Celtic, Old-Time Music and Dance world to get started, the articles, columns and calendar quickly expanded to include African, Balkan, Bluegrass, Cajun, Latin and more. After seven years in hard copy, the magazine inevitably went online resulting in more articles by L.A.’s finest writers knowledgeable in "traditional" music and dance, including an extensive, ever-current calendar to keep one informed and satisfy even the most eclectic tastes.

Steve and Leda tell us that there is much to know about “folk.” What they do know is that working on FolkWorks is a fulfilling process - one that has been ever-expanding for over ten years now and they are thrilled as it has taken them on a journey that continues to be fun and rewarding. Go on the journey with them at www.FolkWorks.org

Ross Altman


ROSS ALTMAN
2010 Music Legend Award Winner!

(Editor's Note: Ross Altman has been written about by many so eloquently, that to improve upon it would be futile. So we have taken a few liberties and offer these comments. )

Ross is called a "Singer-Songfighter." He sings "to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable." He sings old labor songs, anti-war songs, civil rights songs, topical and protest songs, traditional songs, love songs, Jewish songs in Yiddish and English, and original songs that carry on that tradition, most of which he has written himself.

Growing up on the folk music of Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, Theodore Bikel, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy, Billie Holiday, and later on Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, and Malvina Reynolds, he soaked in the rich heritage. To this day, he has not stopped.

Ross has a Ph.D. in English and an M.A. in Speech. For the last twenty years he has made his living in the Los Angeles area singing for old folks homes, schools, labor unions, political gatherings, folk festivals, libraries, book stores, churches, synagogues, and peace demonstrations. He has sung for the home-bound and homeless, for disabled children and Fullbright scholars, for benefits and fundraisers, funerals and memorial services, retirement parties and birthday celebrations. He has sung for countless political, social, and environmental groups, including left-wing causes of every kind. As Woody Guthrie said, "Left wing or chicken wing, if there are people there I'll sing." And on May 16, 2010, he sings for us, his Topanga Family.

Additionally, he has “... sung for a myriad of religious denominations: Methodists, Unitarians, Mormons, Baptists, Catholics, Holy Rollers, Jews, Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists, Communists, and FBI agents (usually at the same event).”

Ross is a member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 47, supporting the principle by which he lives. As President of the Santa Monica Traditional Folk Music Club, Ross keeps the folk music tradition alive. He supports the California Traditional Music Society with his performances, often donating his time and has performed for the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest for well over a decade!

Ross tells a wonderful story, all the while teaching and inspiring us. He teaches us history and the struggles of those that cannot speak for themselves without pointing any fingers. You can count on us all singing.

Al Martinez of the L.A. Times (May 23, 2005) wrote the following after hearing Ross at "The Contest" which says it all so eloquently: " I heard America singing at a stage devoted to folk music, where a troubadour named Ross Altman was performing. With bushy white hair and a pink face, he looked a little like a Santa Claus for the left, offering songs of hope and despair in the kind of gentle, non-threatening tones that folk singers have perfected.

Drawing on tunes that people like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie wrote, and Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan after them, Altman sang of hungry times in America, of 'beans, bacon and gravy,' and of the scary days of blatant racism and national paranoia that vilified the black singer-actor-activist Paul Robeson.

Folk music is rooted in protest, but there's also a redeeming glory to it. When Altman sang 'This Land Is Your Land,' everyone joined in, those who found seats at a venue called the Railroad Stage and those passing by who sensed the joy of the music that Woody Guthrie wrote when he was guitaring across the country, and that Walt Whitman encapsulated in poetry long before him when he heard America singing.

I looked around and wished I could translate the beauty of that moment and that tune into something that would regenerate a mood of benevolence 'from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters' and enhance a realization that we're all one, not only in our expanse of mountains and rivers but on the whole of this little blue ball in space.

Ross Altman's passion keeps the people's music alive all the while sharing his music and embracing us all with one very grand musical hug."

Visit Ross at http://www.ultimate.com/altman/

Richard Greene

Congratulations to
RICHARD GREENE
2009 Music Legend Award Winner!

When it comes to authentic, old-time fiddle music, Richard Greene is known as "one of the most innovative and influential fiddle players of all time." He grew up in Los Angeles studying classical music until his encounter with the pyrotechnic fiddling of Scotty Stoneman; from then on Richard was a fiddler. He was the 1st place winner at the very first Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest in 1961. Richard first attained prominence with Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys in 1966. The legendary Monroe said of him, “There’s not a man in the country that can do what Richard can do.” He went on to found the revolutionary folk-rock group, Seatrain, with the Beatles’ George Martin, pioneering the first use of electric violin in rock music. His advanced technique and intense yet "cool" tone galvanized audiences and influenced a generation of fiddle players, including Darol Anger, Alison Krauss, Sam Bush and Stuart Duncan.

In 1974, Richard's return to acoustic music occasioned the invention, with David Grisman, of "New Grass" or "New Acoustic" instrumental music, now a mainstay throughout the world's acoustic music festivals. He founded the trailblazing Greene String Quartet, creating the first-ever amalgam of Jazz-Folk-Rock-chamber music. His many acclaimed CD releases in folk and bluegrass have been honored with Grammy and IBMA awards, and one, “Sales Tax Toddle,” was Grammy-nominated for Bluegrass Album of Year. He won the 1997 Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance of the Year and was nominated in ‘98 for Best Bluegrass Recording of the Year.

Richard has served as leader of his own groups, including Muleskinner, The Greene String Quartet, The Grass is Greener and Richard Greene & The Brothers Barton. Throughout the year he headlines at major festivals, including Telluride and Durango Meltdown. Currently he leads seminars nationwide at The Mancini Institute, the RockyGrass Academy, the Festival of Fiddle Tunes, the Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camp, the Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, The Swannanoa Gathering, and dozens of ad hoc workshops. Also, last year marked the debut of his own piece for Bluegrass Violin and Orchestra, "What if Mozart Played With Bill Monroe?" The Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest is proud to have played a part in this legend’s early career and welcomes back its first-year winner to bestow an award he has so richly earned. Please visit Richard at his new Web Site, http://www.richardgreene.net/

Mr. Peter Feldmann


Peter Feldmann
2008 Music Legend Award Winner

Peter Feldmann has long been a musical mainstay in Southern California. Besides actively performing bluegrass and old time music with a variety of groups, Peter is a bluegrass historian, teacher, and producer. He was the among the first to bring many prominent folk, blues, and bluegrass artists, including Bill Monroe, Mance Lipscomb, The Stanley Brothers, The New Lost City Ramblers, Fred McDowell, and the Balfa Brothers to Southern California. Over a 21 year period, he produced weekly shows on country and bluegrass music on commercial and public stations. His own music has been heard in clubs, concerts, saloons, universities, pre-schools, at weddings, wakes, parties, barn-raisings, calf-ropings, rodeos, auctions, fund raisers, wine tastings and chili cook offs.

In 1970, Peter helped move the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest from Los Angeles County, where it had been banned, to the UCSB campus. After the festival moved back to Los Angeles, Peter started the Santa Barbara Old Time Fiddlers' Convention, an annual event in October, now in its 37th consecutive year of operation. The Old Time Fiddlers' Convention is the only pure old-time festival and contest in Southern California.

In 1971, Peter founded The Bluebird Cafe in Santa Barbara. While it served food and drinks (hamburgers were 80 cents, beer was a quarter), the Bluebird's real mission was to form a center and school for acoustic music in Southern California. The cafe was built around the needs of musicians, with a great built-in sound system, stage and a ready welcome for a musician on the road. Peter's thought was "make the musicians happy; they'll play great music, and the audience will come..." There was music of some sort almost every night. Performers included Mike Seeger, Hazel Dickens, The Scragg Family, Lamar Grier, Alice Gerrard, Earl Collins, Byron Berline, Furry Lewis, Johnny Shines, and many, many others.

As a teacher and scholar, Peter has organized classes in the history and performance of American traditional music and taught banjo, fiddle & guitar in university extension and adult education classes. He still presents lectures on country music history at UCSB, Santa Barbara area libraries, and in April 2008 at UCLA. Peter produced some of the first instructional records for fiddle (three of them), banjo, and guitar in the 1970s, at a time when very little instructional material was available. His 1975 instructional package for Maybelle Carter's style of guitar playing remains a classic (and is now available on CD). Peter is the director of the "Santa Barbara Beachbillies" - a group of students and graduate students under the auspices of the UCSB Ethnomusicology Dept., who are learning about old time and pre-bluegrass music by performing it.

Despite his achievements as a teacher, scholar, and promoter, Peter is first and foremost an entertainer, sharing his respect, energy and love for the music with his fellow musicians, friends, and audiences. Peter performs tunes and songs from the heart of America's musical treasure chest. His shows can include fiddle, guitar, banjo, and mandolin. He has performed with Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, The Balfa Brothers, Mike Seeger, Byron Berline, Rose Maddox, and his own bands. His latest recording, a tribute to Uncle Dave Macon, "Grey Cat On The Tennessee Farm," was named to the nation's Top Ten Bluegrass albums of 2005 by the Chicago Tribune. You can read Peter's blog at http://bluegrasswest.com/petesword/, or visit his great Web Site at www.bluegrasswest.com. You can email Peter at peter@bluegrasswest.com.

Bess Hawes

Bess Lomax Hawes
2007 Music Legend Award Winner

Though less well-known than her folklorist brother, Alan Lomax, and father, John Lomax, who recorded thousands of folk-singing Americans in the 1930's for the Library of Congress, 80-something Bess Lomax Hawes has made major contributions in the field of folk music as a teacher and performer. In the early 40's, she became involved in the folk scene in New York City and along with young Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, joined "The Almanac Singers." After the War, she and her husband moved to Boston where Hawes gave music lessons to children. It was there that she co-wrote the famous "M.T.A." song, later popularized by The Kingston Trio. In the 50's, the Hawes relocated to the West Coast where she continued her work as a music instructor. She performed at a number of coffee houses and clubs during the 50's and 60's and at folk festivals, including Newport, Berkeley, and UCLA, and taught workshops. Hawes also taught at San Fernando Valley State College as an associate professor in Anthropology and at the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts. In the mid-1970's she joined the Division of Performing Arts at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Roz and Howard Larman

2006 Winners
Roz and Howard Larman

Roz and Howard Larman have been involved in folk music for over 40 years. They took up the banjo and guitar and soon therafter decided they'd rather be presenters of music than performers. This led them to radio station KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles as volunteers. Soon they were invited to do their own folk music program. Their program “Folkscene,” was born in 1970 and is the recipient of the 2005 Far-West's “Best of the West” Award. “Folkscene,” now in its 37th year, is also a syndicated radio program. It features live and recorded music and has presented well over 3,000 musicians from various musical genres. All these years Roz and Howard have been instrumental in introducing new folk, bluegrass and Celtic music artists to Southern California. They fill the Legend Award requirements of a “group or organization that has distinguished itself over the years in the preservation and advancement of old time, folk and bluegrass music in the Southern California area.” To learn more about “Folkscene,” visit their web site at www.folkscene.com.

Sam Hinton

2005 Winner, Sam Hinton

Folk singer, author, naturalist, recording artist (“Old Man Atom,” The Talking Atomic Blues) Sam Hinton grew up in Texas hearing music in the traditions of African America, the White South, the Cajun French, the American West, and the Anglo-Celtic mountain tradition of settlers from the Ozarks. His landmark hit recording of "Old Man Atom" (1950) has been reissued by the Smithsonian. For 20 years Sam was Director of the Aquarium-Museum at the U.C. Scripps Institute of Oceanography and he has written books on sealife. In 1980 he retired to be a full time musician. Sam has given thousands of concerts --mostly for schools -- radio and TV appearances, and folk festivals -- one named for him. His albums include “Library of Congress Recordings” and “Singing Across the Land.”

2004 Winner California Traditional Music Society

Elaine and Clark Weissman

Elaine & Clark Weissman, leaders of CTMS for the past 20 years with their Legend Award

Founded in 1978, CTMS has consistently promoted traditional music and related folk arts in the Southern California area, including founding the North American Folk Alliance, establishing the Summer Solstice Festival and introducing 89,000 school children to their old-time, bluegrass and folk heritage, not to mention the monthly jams at the CTMS Center and the popular, annual "Taste of Folk Music" in Encino. CTMS was honored by Topanga this year for its outstanding work in the preservation and dissemination of traditional folk music and related folk arts of America's diverse cultural heritage and for broadening public involvement, celebrating ethnic traditions and promoting cross-cultural understanding.

2003 Winner Mel Durham

Mel Durham

Mel Durham is a man known all over the West for the past 50 years as a great fidler and bass player and a tireless teacher. He was born in 1914, on the family farm in southern Illinois. Young Mel played with a jazz trio in Illinois for a couple of years until he and his wife Peg sold their home and moved to California. In the evenings he played bass for the Ray Middleton Trio, then for Frankie Gould, whose big band headlined at the Majestic Ballroom on the Long Beach Pike.

Mel also found work with Jack Carter and the Country Ramblers. But in the early 60's, four-piece rock bands took over and the great dance halls were torn down, so Mel turned to Bluegrass, playing almost 25 years with Ron LeGrand in various bands, including "Aunt Dinah's Quilting Party" and "Wild Oats." However, it was the formation of the Southern California Old Time Fiddlers' Association in the late 1960's that helped get Mel back to the fiddle after so many years on the bass. Mel found himself among some great fiddlers, including Earl Collins, Cork Carpenter, Bob Rogers and Howard and Neal Moore. Now he passes on the heritage to all who will ask.

2002 Winner Dorian and Dalia Keyser

Dorian & Dalia Keyser

In 2002, the first MUSIC LEGEND AWARD winners were Dorian and Dalia Keyser, who provided leadership and vision to the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest for 36 years. With Dalia's help, Dorian guided the Fiddle Contest from a small, almost private gathering at a home in Topanga Canyon into the premier old time & bluegrass music festival in Southern California.

Dorian was born in 1925. As a young man he took both piano and violin lessons and became interested in Doc Watson's songs. His chosen profession was engineer, but he continued supporting musical organizations and joined Songmakers in 1965. Dorian first became part of the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest in 1967 when he helped with the event's sound.

Since that time, he has worked tirelessly to promote the festival and has become known as one of Southern California's treasured folk historians. Some say without Dorian, we wouldn't have the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest today. Now retired, Dorian and Dalia enjoy folk, bluegrass, and classical music, and they work actively with environmental groups including the Sierra Club and the Tree People.

For 2011, the Main Stage is dedicated to Dalia and Dorian Keyser. As we begin our 2nd half-century and the fifty-first Contest, we remember two individuals who inspired us all and made the Contest what it has become.

First, a bit of history on the man behind the music. Dorian began as a volunteer in 1966 at the Contest. Seven years later, when his love of the music and its continuance had become a passion, a 29 year odyssey began. With the support of Dalia by his side, Dorian oversaw the Contest from 1973 to 2002. They, along with many truly dedicated individuals and a tireless Board of Directors, saw to all the many details that make up the blueprint of the Contest today. Especially as the Contest moved from place to place, finally settling here in these beautiful Santa Monica Mountains 21 years ago.

But it was Dorian and Dalia’s 29 year constancy, and as some may remember, Dorian’s staunch determination in the wake of the many roadblocks and challenges associated with an event of this magnitude, that has enabled us to be here today.

So much more could be said of these two wonderful and dedicated individuals but time does not permit. Please read the entire Topanga history of our 51 years on our History page.

Dorian and Dalia were ever there to offer guidance during their tenure and even today continue to be a source of inspiration for the future. Thus, with a profound sense of gratitude, we dedicate our Main Stage to Dorian and Dalia Keyser.

To our very first Music Legend Award recipients, Dorian and Dalia, who are no longer with us, we say, Thank You! You will be forever in our hearts.

The Purpose of the Legend Award

The MUSIC LEGEND AWARD was established by the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest & Folk Festival, Inc. (TBFC) in 2002 to honor and recognize a person, group or organization which has distinguished itself over the years in the preservation and advancement of old time, folk and bluegrass music in the Southern California area. The prize consists of a plaque and public proclamation with a cash award of $1000 and is presented at the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest on the main stage every year.

How to Submit Nominations:

The public is invited to submit nominations and whoever nominates the winning candidate will receive two free tickets to the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest. Nominations may also be made by the TBFC Board of Directors and they will decide on the eligibility of all nominees. The board will then vote on the winner, and their decision is final.

All nominations must include a written justification and may be sent by mail (see address below) or email to: info@topangabanjofiddle.org. Nominations must be received by the TBFC by April 9th. Please include your name and contact information, and a complete description of why you believe the person or organization you are nominating is worthy of consideration. Submit your nominees to:

TBFC Legend Award
Post Office Box 571955
Tarzana, California 91356

Or email to: info@topanganbanjofiddle.org. Any questions you may have regarding the MUSIC LEGEND AWARD may also be directed to this email address.