John credits Bob Townsend with providing him with a good solid understanding of old-time music and later Jim Wood for broadening his knowledge of bluegrass and swing fiddling. When asked if John was from a musical family, John kind of chuckled and said, “No, not really, but I did have a grandfather who used to fiddle. His name was Brice Bradley and he played a lot of square dances in the Chester, S.C., area. I never heard him play. He had a stroke and quit playing before I was born.”
In addition to the fiddle and guitar, John also plays the mandolin, upright bass, viola and tenor guitar. He also manages to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga full time and teach a half dozen or so students during the week. Rather impressive is the fact that he is able to maintain a 3.5 grade point average while juggling being a musician, teacher and full time student.
John’s long term music goals include playing more music and he would “eventually like to have a band.” He says, “I have played with several bands over the years, but I have always been just the fiddler. I would like to have some creative control; I really enjoy arranging and writing.”
"John is a very accomplished fiddle / mandolin / and guitar player, but what I like most about his playing is his ability to fit within the context of a band. He knows when to play and when not to and always accentuates the singing. He is very creative and we're really excited about having him in the band. He's a great harmony singer and has a great ear for arranging." ~~ Shannon Slaughter
Born in Dalton, Ga., way back in ’87, Fiddlin’ John Boulware was still a young’un when he started winning picking and fiddling contests. During the 4th of July in2000, John won first place at the National Country Musician Beginner Flat Top Guitar competition in Smithville, Tn. John’s interest in the guitar developed after hearing someone doing a little picking during a Boy Scout campout. He acquired a guitar and soon began taking lessons from 19-year-old Cody Kilby at the Opera House Music Company in downtown South Pittsburg. After a couple of years of instruction from Kilby, John found himself without a teacher when Kilby was hired on by Ricky Skaggs.
So John took up the devil’s box and began instruction with old-time fiddler extraordinaire Bob Townsend, whom John had met at an area jam. Within two years of learning songs and fiddle technique from Townsend, followed by instruction from Jim Wood of Shelbyville, you can bet that Fiddlin’ John was well prepared to jump into the world of fiddling contests.
By age 20, Boulware had won the fiddling contest at the annual Uncle Dave Macon Days held in Murfreesboro four times. In 2006, John’s practice and ability resulted in his winning the Tennessee State Championship in Clarksville.