April 17, 1997 in Features

Family Of Fiddlers Land At The Met

Don Adair Correspondent
 

This bluegrass/gospel quartet has appeared at the Grand Ole Opry with Ricky Scaggs, played the Statler Brothers show on The Nashville Network and performed for the National Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass.

Seventeen-year-old Luke is a six-time national fiddle champion, an honor his 15-year-old sister, Jenny Anne, has won twice. Last September, Luke became the youngest-ever winner of Weiser, Idaho’s Grand National Fiddle Championship. In June, he placed second in the Grand Masters contest at Opryland, while Jenny Anne took sixth.

Luke and Jenny Anne released a CD of fiddle music last year on Rounder, and earned the immediate attention of no less than Nashville’s top fiddler, Mark O’Conner.

“Luke and Jenny Anne - it seems that they will be on a first-name basis with the rest of the fiddling world very soon,” he wrote.

And there’s more to come: Little brother Jed, age 8, showed his stuff at Weiser, too, with a win in the Small Fry division.

So who is this family of fiddle- and banjo-playing prodigies? The latest sensation from some east Kentucky hollow?

Nope, it’s the Bulla Family of Northport, a tiny town nestled hard against the Canadian border in northeast Washington state.

Even as the Bullas’ star rises nationally, they’ll slow down long enough to put in an appearance at The Met Saturday, presented by the Inland Northwest Bluegrass Association.

“We play a lot of gospel and some straight bluegrass,” said Carol Bulla, songwriter, singer, bass player and the group’s resident mom. She grew up in Minnesota, a normal rock ‘n’ roll-type kid who ran into bluegrass when she met husband-to-be Brad on a family visit to Northport.

Brad was a bluegrass nut from the time he first picked up a banjo at age 14. He introduced Carol to the music, and they hit the road with another group, dragging their young kids along.

“We started playing at fairs as the Bulla Family probably nine years ago,” Carol said. Now they’re on the road from May to the end of October, and mom and dad school the kids at home.

When they play the fair circuit, she said, they add a little country to the mix, but bluegrass and gospel are the Bullas’ first love.

Rounder Records, one of the country’s most respected independent labels, stumbled on Luke and Jenny Anne when an Alison Krauss producer heard them warming up for a show in the parking lot of the Nashville Palace.

“He heard the kids warming up,” said Carol Bulla, “and he was so impressed that the fiddles were in tune with each other - and then he found out they were kids.”

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: CONCERT The Bulla Family will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at The Met. General-admission tickets are $12, available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.

This sidebar appeared with the story: CONCERT The Bulla Family will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at The Met. General-admission tickets are $12, available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.

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