Jim Chancellor or "Texas Shorty", as he is more commonly known, is widely acknowledged to be one of the masters of Texas-style fiddling. Born in 1943 in Dallas County, Texas, Chancellor's career started at the age of seven when his father brought home a mandolin. By the age of nine, he was playing mandolin over KTER radio with his brother Allen, where he became "Shorty" of "The Texas Al and Shorty Show". When in his teens, Chancellor heard the Texas fiddling of World Champion fiddler Benny Thomasson, causing him to put away his mandolin and begin to learn fiddle under Thomasson's direct tutelage.
Texas-style fiddling is characterized by a high level of technique with long bow strokes and endless variations on a core repertoire based largely on traditional tunes. Chancellor has spent years interviewing traditional musicians and researching performances on "78" records in order to learn the subtleties of past Texas contest fiddlers.
The fiddling tradition in Texas is augmented by fiddle contests, and Chancellor is credited as the youngest fiddler to win the World Championship in Crockett, Texas. As a student of Thomasson's, Chancellor helped establish Thomasson's approach as the model for the modern contest style. He then proceeded to become the second fiddler in the history of the event to attain undefeated status by winning the contest three consecutive times in 1955-57. Chancellor's accomplishments also include five Texas State Championships and membership in the Texas Fiddler Hall of Fame. Chancellor is also one of the first Texas fiddlers to market his recordings; and his arrangements have had an impact on fiddlers of all ages.
In the 1980s, Chancellor recorded Texas Shorty, World Champion Fiddler, which featured musicians including Mark O'Connor, Gerald Jones, Robert Bowlin, and Sam Bush, as well as Elden Graham and Robert Chancellor. Most recently, Chancellor recorded Old Sport, an album of old time tunes accompanied by Nashville songwriter/performer and friend John Hartford.
Chancellor continues to teach a new generation of Texas fiddlers through classes and workshops and performs around the country with his wife, Ruthie.
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Sample: "Bonnie Cates Reel"
Sample: "Miller's Reel"
Jim "Texas Shorty" Chancellor explains what puts the Texas in Texas fiddling. [4:00]