The Mabee Center in Tulsa will be "jumpin'" next week as three members of The Time Jumpers are slated to become the newest members of the National Fiddlers Hall of Fame.

The hall of fame, based in Tulsa, includes a host of distinguished alumni including Grand Lake's own Jana Jae and Roy Clark.

The newest class features Larry Franklin, Kenny Sears and Joe Spivey, three members of The Time Jumpers, as well as posthumous inductees Papa John Creach and Randy Howard.

As part of the ceremony, Franklin, Sears and Spivey - and the other members of The Time Jumpers: Vince Gill, "Ranger Doug" Green, Paul Franklin, Brad Albin, Andy Reiss, Jeff Taylor and Billy Thomas, for a red-carpet style celebration, set for Friday, Feb. 10, at the Mabee Center in Tulsa.

Doors open at 5:45 p.m., for the VIP, with the pre-show starting at 6 p.m., and the full concert at 7:30 p.m. While VIP tickets are sold out, Reserve seating remains for $30 and Gold Circle seating at $45.

Bob Fjeldsted, president of the National Fiddlers Hall of Fame said he is thrilled to induct "such an illustrious group of talented fiddler players."

"There's nothing better than twin fiddles - unless there are three of them," Fjeldsted said in a phone interview. "These are the best triple fiddlers you'll ever hear. They play with seamless harmony.

"They are the point of the spear, taking fiddle music to the world. they are all the top players in their field."

Fjeldsted calls The Time Jumpers the "top western swing band" in the country.

"The band has the top players in Nashville per instrument," Fjeldsted said. "They have the top three fiddlers, top rhythm guitar and the top piano and accordion player.

"It doesn't hurt their value to have Oklahoma native Vince Gill in their band either. I think [the 90-minute concert] will be an event of the year."

Jae, who is helping to organize the show, agreed with Fjeldsted.

"This will be one fantastic show for your friends, you and your Valentine," Jae said. "Dreamy Vince Gill and the hot 10-piece swing band, The Time Jumpers, in a full gala concert. 

"This is one fabulous band. A perfect Valentine weekend event."

About the induction

For Larry Franklin, one of the three inductees slated to perform, the honor is both unexpected and exciting.

"I didn't expect it," Franklin said during a phone interview. "It's nice for fiddlers and The Time Jumpers to get recognized. We try really hard to do what we do, as well as we can, in order to pay homage to our heroes that we learned from.

"This validates what we have done for our whole lives. It means all of the hard work, and what we've done maybe meant something - when you receive an award like this."

Franklin said he is honored to receive the award along with Sears and Spively, saying he is blessed to work with them at each and every Time Jumpers show.

"We put a lot of time and effort into putting our songs and parts together, to make it as good as we can, and to make it something special," Franklin said. "I'm totally inspired by the both of them."

For Franklin, performing with The Time Jumpers has given him the opportunity to play with other fiddlers at the same time.

In many other opportunities - including his work with Asleep at the Wheel, Franklin was the sole fiddler player in the group.

"When you play three fiddles, it's something mind blowing, it's too good," Franklin said. "We all play parts together, to make it sound like the same person...then we all play solos and all three have completely different [sounds]."

Franklin said while the three men have similar influences, each has applied it to their craft in a different, and unique way.

"It's just fun to listen to everyone play," Franklin said. "We all three have the same goal in mind. We never take a night off. We all three come to play, do our best and play as well as we can.

"It's fun to be able to bring it together and create a sound you just don't hear anymore."

About The Time Jumpers

Franklin said the group, is unique because it contains a slate of members who all feature different styles of music, but have come together to make music in a unique way.

"I've been in it for almost six years, and I'm still amazed to listen to the other guys," Franklin said. "As a fiddle player, you get a chance to listen to other musicians play. If you've heard the band, it becomes magical at times."

Franklin jokes he's gotten so caught up in listening to his fellow musicians play, at times he's missed his cue to join in on his parts. 

"We have over 500 years of [musical] experience in the band," Franklin said. 

The group's latest album, Kid Sister, has garnered two Grammy nominations: Best Americana Album and Best American Roots song for the title track - Kid Sister.

The album is dedicated to the band's late "girl singer" Dawn Sears (the kid sister of the title track) who died in December 2014, after 10 years of being in The Time Jumpers and 22 years of touring as a harmony singer for Gill. She was the wife of The Time Jumper's bandleader and fiddler Kenny Sears.

Franklin said fans attending the induction ceremony and concert can expect some "up tempo, toe-tapping" tunes, with a blend of classic Bob Wills tunes - with a twist, and a few new favorites.

He said most performances open with his favorite song, Texoma Bound, and include a plethora of tunes that showcase the three fiddlers.

"We try to pick some songs you don't hear every band play, that's still Bob Wills music," Franklin said. "We try to give our own original flavor - and make the fiddling as interesting as we can."

For instance, he said, in one song Big Balls in Cowtown, Franklin took the original fiddle part - which only called for one musician - and expanded it to become a three fiddle arrangement. 

"We do things like that to spice things up," Franklin said. "We get going and have a good time with all of them."

Franklin said he hopes people who come to the concert will simply have fun.

Fjeldsted warns those attending the show to make sure to bring a handkerchief, because it moves listeners to tears.

"It is a really, really moving song, as they pay tribute to her," Fjeldsted said.

Every Monday night, the group performs at a venue known as 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville. On what is a typically slow night on the music scene, doors open at 5 before the 8 p.m. show, which is typically sold out for each performance.

More about Franklin

Franklin, who grew up on a farm in Whitewright, Texas, was introduced to the fiddle through the influence of his great uncle, Major Franklin - a 2011 inductee into the NFHOF, and his father. Louis Franklin.

Franklin jokes that he grew up in a family filled with so much fiddle music, that he thought everyone played the fiddle.

Drawn to the music through his father's love of the instrument, and when he learned there were youth divisions at some of the competitions his father took part in - Franklin asked his dad to teach him to play at the age of 7.

Two weeks later - with Rubber Dolly and Boil Them Cabbage Down under his belt, he performed in his first contest.

While he did not win an award, the experience marked the beginning of a life-long career as a musician, which includes three Grammy's with his work with Asleep at the Wheel" 

In 1987 and 1988, Franklin was honored along with Asleep at the Wheel for the Best Country & Western Instrumental Performance Grammy. The third Grammy for Best Country & Western Instrumental Performance came in 1999, after Franklin returned to the group to help with the second Bob Wills tribute album.

Franklin's musical heroes include the late Bob Wills, who was the first inductee into the NFHOF, in 2007, the late Johnny Gimble and Jesse Ashlock.

For Franklin, the fiddle became the "coolest instrument in the band" thanks to Wills influence. 

"He inspired a whole generation to play," Franklin said. "It stands the test of time. People enjoy hearing [the fiddle]."

 

About the inductees

Larry Franklin

Larry Franklin grew up on a farm in Whitewright, Texas and began playing the fiddle when he was 7-years-old under the guidance of his father, Louis Franklin.

He eventually won virtually every fiddling contest in Texas, culminating with the World Championship title when he was only l6.

After a three-year stint in the U.S. Army, he co-founded the Cooder Browne Band, which recorded on Willie Nelson’s Lone Star label and toured with Nelson.

Franklin went on to perform with Asleep At The Wheel for seven years, during which time he won two Grammys. His third Grammy came in 1999 for “Bob’s Breakdown” on the Ride With Bob tribute album to Bob Wills.

Since moving to Nashville in 1991, he has recorded with Kenny Chesney, Grace Potter, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Loretta Lynn, Vince Gill, Lauren Alaina, Rodney Atkins, Joe Nichols, Lee Ann Womack, Easton Corbin, Brian Wilson, Reba McEntire, Shania Twain and Lady Antebellum, among dozens of others.

In 2002 Larry was inducted into the Texas Fiddlers Hall of Fame and has been a member of The Time Jumpers since May 2010.

Kenny Sears

Kenny Sears was born in Denison, Texas and raised on a farm in Liberty, Oklahoma.

He purchased his first fiddle when he was seven with money earned picking cotton and turned professional when he was 11 after he was invited to join the staff band of the Big D Jamboree in Dallas.

This gave him the opportunity to work with Grand Ole Opry artists who routinely played the Jamboree. Another contact young Sears made there was Billy Gray, Hank Thompson’s former bandleader.

When the Big D Jamboree closed down, Gray asked Sears to join his troupe. Sears recalls it as a great training ground in swing and country music. But he had another musical life as well.

Since the fourth grade, he had been playing classical violin with the Austin College Symphony. This gig netted him a scholarship to North Texas State University and the chance to study music in depth.

He subsequently played in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Sears moved to Nashville in 1975 and in the years that followed toured with Mel Tillis, Ray Price, Faron Young and Dottie West, among others, worked in Ralph Emery’s staff band and the Grand Ole Opry band and established the reputation he still holds as one of Nashville’s most revered session players.

Sears has been the band leader for The Time Jumpers for the last 15 years.

Joe Spivey

A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Joe Spivey has been playing fiddle since he was 16, influenced primarily by the great Chubby Wise and Tommy Jackson.

After working at a gospel radio station (where he eventually rose to the rank of program director), he served from 1977 to 1982 as the music director for the revamped Louisiana Hayride.

n 1984, he moved to Colorado Springs and formed Cimarron, a band that went on to win the state championship in the Marlboro Country Music Roundup competition. Spivey moved on to Nashville in 1986 and joined John Anderson’s band in July of that year. He continues to tour with Anderson.

As a studio musician, he has recorded with Anderson, Merle Haggard, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez, Hank Williams Jr., Clay Walker and many others. His hobbies include studying music history and collecting cameras and Victrola phonographs.

Papa John Creach

John Henry Creach (May 28, 1917 – Feb. 22, 1994), better known as Papa John Creach, was an American blues violinist, who has also played "classical, jazz, be-bop, R&B, pop and acid rock" music.

Early in his career he played with Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Stuff Smith, and Charlie Christian as well as Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Nat King Cole and Roy Milton.

Later, he played for Jefferson Airplane (1970–1972), Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship, Jefferson Starship - The Next Generation, the San Francisco All-Stars (1979–1984), The Dinosaurs (1982–1989) and Steve Taylor.

Creach recorded a number of solo albums and was a frequent guest at Grateful Dead and Charlie Daniels Band concerts. He was a regular guest at the early annual Volunteer Jams, hosted by Charlie Daniels, which exposed him to a new audience that was receptive to fiddle players.

Randy Howard

Randy Howard (1960 to June 29, 1999) was an American bluegrass, country and old time fiddler.

Born in Georgia, he grew up in Midgeville.

As a child he learned to play several instruments, including fiddle, and won his first fiddle contest at the age of 18 in Union Grove, North Carolina.

Howard was the first prize fiddler at the inaugural Tri-State Bluegrass Association fiddle contest in 1982. He worked as a session musician in Nashville beginning in 1990. He played with many well-known musicians and bands, including George Jones and Ricky Skaggs. He continued to win many fiddle contests.

Howard performed on two albums with the Lonesome River Band. He was a guest artist on an album by Allen Shadd. He was named fiddle player of the year at the International Bluegrass Music Awards in 1996.

His style was steeped in tradition, incorporating rhythm and blues, bluegrass, swing, Texas style fiddling and the virtuosity of Paganini.

Howard died of cancer in 1999. That year he was once more named fiddle player of the year at the International Bluegrass Music Awards. An album of his recordings, I Rest My Case, was released by Sugar Hill Records in 2001.

 

For more information, or to purchase tickets, persons interested may call the Mabee Center Box Office at 918-495-6000 or visithttps://mabeecenter.com/event/nationalfiddlerhalloffame.