Tag Archives: Fiddler

New IEB, Division Director, and International Representative Appointments

I am pleased to announce that the International Executive Board has appointed Terryl Jares, president of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL), to fill the unexpired term of Tino Gagliardi, former president of New York City Local 802, who resigned his IEB seat to accept my appointment as director of the Federation’s Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division and also as International Representative assisting locals located in the Eastern United States.

International Officer Jares has served Local 10-208 continuously since 1995, first as a member of the local’s board of directors, then as the first woman to be elected vice president in 2004, and also as the first woman to be elected president of Local 10-208, a position she has held since 2016. She has served as an AFM convention delegate since 2003, most recently in 2019 as a member of the convention Finance Committee.
Terryl graduated from Illinois State University with an applied performance degree in violin and viola, and also with a degree in music education. She has performed in theatrical pit orchestras throughout the Chicago area and has toured across the United States performing with theatrical and orchestral productions. Terryl is an executive vice president of the Illinois AFL-CIO and an officer of the Chicago Entertainment Industry Labor Council.

Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division Director Tino Gagliardi served as president and executive director of the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802, from 2009 until 2018, and was elected to the International Executive Board four times, initially in 2010 and most recently in June 2019. Tino is a graduate of the University of Hartford and its Hartt School of Music, and enjoyed a decades-long career as a lead trumpet player, touring the world as a member of Broadway show pit orchestras performing under Pamphlet B and also as a pit orchestra member in every Broadway theater.
During his performing career, Tino was a regular in New York City’s concert, club date, and recording fields. As president of Local 802, he led the negotiations for Broadway, the Lincoln Center resident orchestras, and Radio City. Tino is a trustee to the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund and the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. In addition to his role as director of the Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division, Tino will serve as International Representative to locals in the Eastern US, assuming the duties of Gene Tournour, who recently retired from that position after nearly 25 years of service.

Previous Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division Director George Fiddler has accepted my appointment as director of Immigration Services, and will review and administer the day-to-day receipt of information from employers and from foreign musicians who seek visa consultation and advice from the Federation for submission to the US Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to his immigration services duties, George will also assist Director Gagliardi as associate director of the Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division, particularly in anticipation of the opening of negotiations for a successor Pamphlet B agreement covering the services of musicians employed across the United States and Canada in theatrical touring productions.
George is a graduate of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, and worked at Radio City Music Hall, and also in the freelance and club date scene in New York City for decades. He began his work with the Federation in 2008 supervising visa consultation requests from foreign booking agents and musicians, and later served as interim director of the Theatre, Touring, and Booking Division.

Steve Begnoche, former trustee of Austin, Texas Local 433, has accepted my appointment as International Representative for the southern United States, stepping into the shoes of retiring International Rep Gerald “Cass” Acosta of Shreveport, Louisiana, who held that post for nearly 20 years. Steve is a percussionist who holds a music degree from the University of Hartford and the Hartt School of Music. He served Local 23 (San Antonio, TX) and Local 65-699 (Houston, TX) as an executive administrative assistant, where he oversaw office operations and multiple service programs, including job referrals, Music Performance Trust Fund project development, and organizing membership and recruitment drives.
I extend my best wishes to former International Representatives Cass Acosta and Gene Tournour for an amazing and well-deserved retirement, and I hope that Cass and Gene will now have the time to do the things they never had the time to do. I also welcome Executive Officer Terryl Jares, Theatre, Touring, and Booking Director and International Representative Tino Gagliardi, Immigration Services Director George Fiddler, and International Representative Steve Begnoche to their new roles and duties in furtherance of the mission and goals of the Federation, our locals, and our members. I am looking forward to working with each of you, as we strive to improve the lives of musicians everywhere.

Fiddler David Varnado Reels in Awards

In 2017, David Varnado of Local 433 (Austin, TX) received a string of awards that included an Academy of Country Music award for Fiddle Player of the Year (for which he was also nominated in 2001), the Legend Award from the American Fiddlers Association (AFA), and Fiddler of the Year from the Texas Country Music Association. In the meantime, he was inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast in his hometown of Port Arthur, Texas. Since then, he says humbly, “Everything has taken off.” In 2018, he took home the prestigious Johnny Gimble Fiddle Award.

Third-generation fiddler David Varnado of Local 433 (Austin, TX) recently received the Johnny Gimble Fiddle Award from the Country Music Artists’s Association of Texas.

A third-generation fiddler, Varnado knew at five years old what he was destined to do. Looking over his father’s shoulder, he says, “I’d see where he was laying his fingers. That’s how I learned to play.”

A recipient of the Honorable Musician award from the State of Texas (also in 2017) Varnado is an in-demand session musician who also plays mandolin and acoustic guitar. Though versed in reading music, these days Varnado mostly plays by ear. He’s done a lot of studio work, but admits, “I’m most fulfilled by live performance.”

Varnado’s entrée into the fiddling world wasn’t country, but Cajun music. “I cut my teeth on Cajun French music as a little kid. It’s my culture. My mom and dad are from South Louisiana. It’s happy music. I think it has everything to do with the lifestyle—the sound is exciting.” Years later, in October 2016, Varnado received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cajun Music Association.

His dad happened to be good friends with Rufus Thibodeaux, the “king of the Cajun fiddle players,” who played for Bob Wills, Neil Young, and Grand Ole Opry star Jimmy C. Newman. Thibodeaux became Varnado’s mentor and taught him from age 12 to 17. He and his father would make the two-hour drive to Lafayette every Friday. The young Varnado would play Friday and Saturday night gigs with Thibodeaux and study with him during the day. It was creative, advanced fiddle music, with emphasis on Cajun and Texas swing. He learned country and Cajun stylings, while sharpening his harmony-playing skills.

Thibodeaux introduced him to Nashville when Varnado was 16 years old, where he joined Local 257. Around the same time, he met Johnny Gimble, who Varnado still considers: “The greatest western swing fiddle player to walk the face of this earth.” With Gimble, he quickly mastered techniques in advanced finger noting, bowing, and sustaining a rhythmic lift, and learned how to back up a singer in a swing band.

From 1989 to 1991, Varnado lived in Japan performing in the play, One Reel. He had an apartment in Tokyo and went back and forth to Texas. The show eventually played in Lafayette and Crowley, Louisiana. In 1991, Grammy award-nominated Cajun accordionist Jo-El Sonnier called Varnado. “He wanted to know if I wanted to do the Nashville Now show with Ralph Emery.”

About three years later, his friends in George Strait’s band (Ace in the Hole of Local 433) encouraged him to move to Austin. Varnado explains that Nashville seems to have become more of a hub for rock ‘n’ roll. He says, a lot of what they call country is actually Southern rock, which he likes a lot. But, it’s not authentic country music. For that, he says, “Listen to Mark Chesnutt, Randy Travis [of Local 257], Marty Robbins, Vern Gosdin, or Gene Watson [of Local 65-699 (Houston, TX)].”

A longtime supporter of the union, Varnado says, “My dad was an iron worker and welder. I’ve watched him fight for union work and wages. You get great wages with the union. I’ve done The Jay Leno Show and Conan. You couldn’t get on those shows unless you were union. I’ve always liked being part of the musicians union because it brings people together as one. If something goes wrong, I call my union office and they’ll fight for me. They’re going to make sure I get my money.”

Among his most memorable experiences was performing with the late Chris LeDoux—a prolific songwriter, musician, and world champion bareback rider, to boot—whom Varnado says was one of the most generous people he’s known.

It was the late Johnny Paycheck who introduced Varnado to traditional honky-tonk. “He put me on the map and got me noticed at the Grand Ole Opry. I’ve played a lot of fiddle, a lot of fiddle kickoffs. I loved doing the late shows, but it was playing the Grand Ole Opry that made me feel like I made it. It’s to the musician what Hollywood is to an actor,” he says.

Since then, he’s played the Opry numerous times, notably with Ty England and Loretta Lynn of Local 257. Between gigs in Austin and Nashville, Varnado stays busy. In addition, he’s performing with George Dearborne with whom he last performed at age 16. “I’ve come full circle,” Varnado says.

Recently he committed to working with award-winning coproducer and engineer Don E. Meehan of Local 802 (New York City) on a solo CD, which will include vocals, instrumentals, and traditional country and western fare. It looks like the much-celebrated sideman may now take a turn at center stage.