Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fiddling for the first lady

Adam Larkey was born and raised in Abingdon.
For a short while, he had a normal sort of life.
Then his father brought home a fiddle.
Soon enough, Adam’s life wasn’t all that normal, not unless you count playing for first lady Michelle Obama in Washington, D.C., normal.
Oh, and he’s only 12 years old.
“My dad had brought home an old fiddle and I just wouldn’t leave it alone,” Larkey said of his start with the instrument.
He practiced all the time, he said, and played a few shows with his father, a bluegrass bass player, before going on to win the 2008 Youth Old Time Fiddle Championship at the Galax Fiddlers Convention. He’s also appeared on a number of local radio and television shows, including WCYB’s Family Focus, WJHL’s Cable Country, the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion and even played on the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree in Nashville.
Rhythm and Roots and the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance got invited to take part in the White House Summer Music Series and needed to find musicians to send.
Adam, already on the rise in the local sound scene, was a natural pick.
He and nine others from Southwest Virginia and northeastern Tennessee traveled to the nation’s capital a short time later.
“We went to the capital and saw all the monuments,” said Adam. “We walked until our feet were sore and then we kept walking.”
The trip wasn’t just a site-seeing adventure, though. Adam got a chance to participate in a songwriting workshop hosted by Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss.
“We went into a room with a very, very nice stage. Allison Krauss and Brad Paisley played a few songs for us then told us anyone can write a song,” he said.
Adam said Nashville stars gave out some good advice on writing, but he was already acquainted with the writing process. Two years ago, Adam wrote a song for the 2007 Tennessee State PTA Reflection Contest. He walked away with first place.
Now that Adam’s back from Washington, he said he’s going to be working on another song based on the Erwin Six, a group of POW’s from Erwin, Texas.
“I’m a history buff,” he said. “I thought this story was really cool and if I could write a song about them, maybe more people would open their eyes to who they were.”
Though he’s only 12, Adam has had a few run-ins with stars. He’s played alongside Michael Cleveland, Kim Karnes, Penny Gilley, Third Thyme Out and the Little River Band.
Adam also plays in a band with friends and siblings called Mountain Time.
As he’s looking to get back in the studio to record his song and some other music, another brush with fame is keeping him out.
“Ralph Stanley has the studio all booked up,” he said.
To see more of Larkey or hear his music, visit
Justin Harmon can be reached at or 276-628-7101

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