Guy Drollinger

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Guy DrollingerMusic making is a way of life and his whole life for Guy Drollinger, who grew up in Iowa City. One of Iowa’s premier folk artists, Drollinger carries on a tradition that goes back for generations. He remembers his father, Lyle, on trumpet, and his grandfather, Charlie Drollinger, on fiddle, playing jigs, reels, old time, and jazz.

Old Time music in Eastern Iowa is a combination of Anglo-Scots-Irish dance tunes and American traditional house party melodies, which have been influenced over the years by radio, Nashville, bluegrass, the folk song revivals in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll. The playing style of settlers from the East Coast and the Upland South resulted in a low-key, matter-of-fact performance without much ornamentation.

In the 19th century through the mid-20th century, this music functioned primarily as home and community entertainment for dances, parties, and the like. From the 1920s onwards radio and records also influenced playing styles, choice of tunes, and transmission, as did and do fiddle contests and folk festivals.

Although everyone else in his family played, Guy Drollinger didn’t really start until he was twelve and his grandfather gave him a guitar. He also attempted the violin but gave it up after a couple of weeks; he tried again a few years later, but nothing really took until he saw John Hartford play in 1976. That, plus backing up his granddad on guitar for a public performance around the same time made Guy realize just how much he liked this music and the fiddle. He started practicing two to three hours a day and hasn’t backed off by much since. In the traditional manner, Guy has passed his music on to his daughters, Megan and Hannah. Their music can be heard on the recording Rose in the Morning.

In 1996, Guy and his daughter Hannah represented the State of Iowa at the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife in Washington D.C. and at the Sesquicentennial Festival of Iowa Folklife in Des Moines. Guy has been a featured performer at several Folklife Teachers Institutes and performed with his younger daughter, Megan, at the 2001 Festival of Iowa Folklife in Waterloo. In 2002 and 2004, Guy was named as a Master Fiddler for the Iowa Arts Council’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. Guy currently plays in the Celtic band Stones in the Field, performs locally, and tours statewide, nationally, and internationally with Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre. He is also a featured performer, along with his daughters, in the Art’s Council’s Cultural Express: Traditional Arts on Tour Old Time Music program.

Contact information: Guy Drollinger, 319.338.2652,