Nederland officials to honor famed fiddler with his own day
Award-winning fiddler David Varnado has played for some of country music’s biggest stars, including Loretta Lynn, Johnny Paycheck and Neil McCoy, but he shies away from the spotlight.
“I’m not the star. I don’t want to be. It’s not about me. It’s about them,” said Varnado, 48.
But recently Varnado has been getting plenty of attention, winning the 2017 American Fiddlers Association’s Legend Award and receiving his second nomination for the Academy of Country Music Fiddle Player of the Year.
Varnado, who has played professionally for 38 years, will be honored again today when Nederland Mayor Dick Nugent issues a proclamation recognizing June 12 as David Varnado Day in the city.
Nederland Police Chief Darrell Bush said he had the idea to issue the proclamation to Varnado.
Bush said he met Varnado, who moved to Nederland from Nashville 12 years ago, several years ago and wanted to honor the notable citizen.
“He’s a great musician, but also he’s a good down-to-earth person,” Bush said.
Varnado said he started playing the fiddle when he was 5 with his father, who taught him his first song, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
He quickly moved on to cut his teeth on Cajun music, followed by country and Texas swing.
He said he learned from Cajun music fiddler Rufus Thibodeaux, who took him to Nashville from his hometown of Port Arthur when he was 18 to meet other country musicians.
He appeared with country singer-songwriter Jo-El Sonnier, who was responsible for Varnado’s first TV performance, playing for millions on “Nashville Now.”
“I wanted to be just like my two mentors. I wanted to play just like them. I wanted to sound just like them. That’s what kept me going,” he said.
After that, his career took him to work for musicians like Paycheck, Lynch, McCoy, Chris LeDoux, who mentored Garth Brooks, and Sammy Kershaw.
He said when he received the phone call about the American Fiddlers Association’s Legend Award, he was told that part of the honor was due to his staying true to traditional country music during his nearly four-decade career.
“It humbles me out. I’ve never stopped learning,” he said.