Graham Craig Townsend
June 16, 1942Toronto, Ontario, Canada (
Fiddle, mandolin, piano
December 3, 1998, Barrie, Canada
Favourite Square Dances with Calls, Classics of Irish, Scottish, and French-Canadian Fiddling
Juno Award for Instrumental Album of the Year
Murray Smith, Raffi, Ken Whiteley
Graham Townsend Miami Show 1983
Graham Townsend - Bully of the Town & Clarinet Polka
Graham Townsend (June 16, 1942 – December 3, 1998) was a Canadian fiddler, mandolin player, pianist and composer active from the 1950s through the 1990s.
- Graham Townsend Miami Show 1983
- Graham Townsend Bully of the Town Clarinet Polka
Townsend grew up in East York, Ontario. He was visually impaired from an early age. He started playing fiddle as a child and was winning competitions as early as nine years old. Among his important and early influences was Don Messer, for whom Townsend’s father Fred was his square dance caller. He was also influenced by Irish fiddlers Tom McQuestion and Billy Crawford. Beginning in his teens, Townsend began to perform on tour and on radio and television, often with Messer. He toured extensively throughout Europe and in Australia for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the Canadian government, and gave a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II. He performed often with his wife Eleanor whom he married in 1973 and among the many performers he worked with were Wilf Carter, Tommy Hunter, the McGarrigle sisters, Ronnie Prophet and Stan Rogers. Townsend also performed in a tribute show to Don Messer and in many festivals.
Townsend’s style was steeped in Canada’s fiddling traditions and his many recording for Banff, Rodeo, Rounder Records, Silver Eagle, Springwater and other labels have received significant acclaim. He helped to establish the Ontario Old Time Fiddlers Association.
From an early age, he was very successful in a number of fiddling competitions, including the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) Fiddle Championship (1951, 52, 53), the Shelburne Canadian Open Fiddle Championship (1963, '68, '69, '70), the Simcoe Fiddle Championship (1957, 58), the Southern Ontario Fiddle Championship (1958, 59), the Kitchener Fiddle Championship (1959), the Peterborough Fiddle Championship (1959), the Northern Ontario Fiddle Championship (1959, 60), and the Pembroke International Championship (1965).
Townsend was inducted into the United States Fiddlers Hall of Fame in 1982, the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame in 1990, and the Canadian National Fiddling Hall of Fame in 1998 and was nominated for a Juno award for instrumental artist of the year in 1991. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Canadian Grandmasters Fiddling Championships in 1998.
Graham performed at the Tottenham Bluegrass Festival in June, 1995, and at the Pineridge Bluegrass Folklore Society show in Oshawa, Ontario in March, 1996.
Townsend died from cancer on December 3, 1998 in Barrie, Ontario, Canada.