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Marylander Receives Nation's Highest Honor In Folk And Traditional Arts

Marylander Receives Nation's Highest Honor In Folk And Traditional Arts


Mike Auldridge named 2012 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow

June 19, 2012Press Release

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) today announced that bluegrass and country musician Mike Auldridge of Silver Spring, Maryland has been named one of only nine 2012 NEA 2012 National Heritage Fellowship Recipients.  The Fellowship honors folk and traditional artists for their artistic excellence and efforts to conserve America’s culture and includes a one-time award of $25,000. 

Said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, “As one of America’s most treasured and important bluegrass musicians, Mike Auldridge has woven threads of Maryland’s heritage into the broader fabric of the nation. Mike’s musical style on the Dobro, and that of the Seldom Scene – the group he helped found in Bethesda during the seventies – embodies the best of Maryland’s identity as innovative, yet deeply rooted.  

Mike Auldridge’s resophonic guitar—a steel-bodied acoustic slide guitar also known as the Dobro—was custom built by Beard Guitars of Hagerstown, Maryland, which retails six and eight string versions of Auldridge’s signature instrument.  

Previous NEA National Heritage Fellows, include bluesman B.B. King, Cajun fiddler and composer Michael Doucet, cowboy poet Wally McRae, gospel and soul singer Mavis Staples, and bluegrass musician Bill Monroe. Since 1982, the Arts Endowment has honored 368 NEA National Heritage Fellows, including 13 Marylanders.  

Auldridge and fellow 2012 awardees will come to Washington, DC, in October for a series of events including an awards presentation and banquet at the Library of Congress, as well as a concert scheduled for Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC. Free tickets will be available this fall. Check the NEA website for more details.


Born in 1938 and raised in Kensington, Maryland, Auldridge began playing guitar and banjo at an early age before settling on the Dobro at age 17. While the Dobro was used by such musicians as Josh Graves, who performed with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Auldridge is credited with bringing the Dobro new recognition.

After graduating in 1967 from the University of Maryland, Auldridge continued to play in local clubs in the Washington, DC area. In 1969, he joined the band Emerson and Waldron, later called Cliff Waldron and the New Shades of Grass, and in 1971 he co-founded the Seldom Scene, a group he remained with until the mid-1990s. The Seldom Scene, which performed weekly at the Birchmere in Virginia, became pioneers of the newgrass sound, which incorporated elements of jazz, folk, and rock into traditional bluegrass harmonies.

Auldridge’s first two solo albums, Dobro and Blues & Bluegrass, demonstrated his versatility; he went on to record six more solo albums as well as doing session work on more than 200 recordings with a diverse array of artists including Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Patty Loveless, Lyle Lovett, Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs, Hank Williams, Jr., and Bill Monroe. In addition to the Seldom Scene, Auldridge has performed with a number of other bands, including Chesapeake, the Good Deale Bluegrass Band, and John Starling and Carolina Star (which featured three original members of the Seldom Scene). He has also performed with the touring bands of Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris.

In 2007, Auldridge was recognized for his contributions to the development of bluegrass with International Bluegrass Music Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award.

Mike Auldridge
Pictured: Mike Auldridge. Photo Credit: Jennie L. Scott                                                       

About the Maryland State Arts Council
The Maryland State Arts Council, an agency of the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, is dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. The mission of the council is to encourage and invest in the advancement of the arts for the people of Maryland. For more information about the Maryland State Arts Council, visit the MSAC web site at or call (410) 767-6555 or TTY 1-800-735-2258.