South Carolina native Rich Hartness grew up in a musical household in Rocky Mount, NC. He played acoustic guitar as a kid and became attracted to Black and White traditional music in his teens. Folk festivals and fiddlers conventions in the mid 70's exposed him directly to the infectious and irresistible sounds of banjos and fiddles to which he relented.
Rich has devoted his musical energy of the last 30 years learning to play the old fiddle tunes from fine old and young musicians and recordings alike. In the mid 70's he learned from many Mount Airy NC area and SW Virginia musicians such as fiddlers Tommy Jarrell, Ernest East, Old Man Luther Davis, fretless banjo picker Dix Freeman and guitar finger picker Chester Macmillian. In the early to mid 80s trips to Glennville and Pocahontas County WV led to formative relationships with old masters Wilson Douglas, Melvin Wine and the Hammons Family. He's drawn from Ot musicians from the Piedmont of NC such as 2 finger banjo picker and fiddler Marvin Gaster and fiddler Lauchlin Shaw. Like others of his generation Rich has devoted much energy into collecting and absorbing a variety of recordings of traditional American music. Playing tunes with contemporaries has always been an important component of Rich's musical experience.
Rich's fiddling style is unique and represents a synthesis of many different influences. Some call him an "up bow" fiddler as he gains much power and emphasis by "pushing" the bow up on the down beat. Rich attributes much of the drive and levity in his fiddling style to this approach.
Rich's finger-style guitar is also unique. It consists of a core alternating thumb bass rhythm punctuated by frequent connecting thumb and index finger bass runs. Slight variations on This approach allow it to work nicely as accompaniment to fiddle tunes, Carter sounding lead melody for duets or treble melody over alternating thumb bass rhythm for a very full sound when playing solo. Rich particularly enjoys applying his finger style guitar to the challenging progressions and rhythms of fiddled Rags.
For work, Rich is an Information Technology professional. Music is a very satisfying and meaningful avocation. He treasures the fellowship, necessary discipline and sheer joy associated with making music.