Tristan Clarridge – Mount Shasta, CA

Tristan Clarridge is a 5-time Grand National Fiddle Champion who began music studies at the age of two. He has toured the world as the cellist with folk-grass sensation Crooked Still, chambergrass trio The Bee Eaters, and Darol Anger’s seminal group The Republic of Strings, and performed with Mike Marshall, Bruce Molsky, and Cape Breton fiddle star Natalie MacMaster. Raised in a tipi in the mountains of northern California, music was always an important part of Tristan’s life.

Rather than attending school, Tristan and his family spent much of their time learning at home, on wilderness backpacking trips, and on the road, sometimes traveling thousands of miles for music lessons and camps. Inspired by musical revolutionaries he met along the way such as Darol Anger, Rushad Eggleston, Edgar Meyer and Bela Fleck, Tristan found himself amidst a cello revolution, synthesizing traditional folk and fiddle influences along with rhythmic vocabulary from jazz, classical, and popular music. Along with his sister Tashina, Tristan directs the Shasta Music Summit and other music camps and workshops up and down the west coast, inspiring and educating hundreds of young string musicians.


“As a judge, as an attentive listener, I aim to tune my ears simply for raw musicality.  Feeling and expression are not separate in the slightest from their tools: intonation and rhythm (both are simply frequency, faster or slower..!).

A “mistake” (ie missed notes) won’t lose you a single point from me, unless it actually hinders the feeling of music.  What I will deduct points for is lost connection to pitch and especially to rhythm/groove.  This is dance music at the core; the notes are really a small part of it.  Just don’t forget to listen, feel the groove with your bandmates, and don’t worry about whether you “mess up”.  Worrying instead of playing music is the real mess up.”