Price is five-time Grand Champion

Luke Price, above center, captured his fifth Grand Champion title during the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest finals held on Saturday in Weiser. Price, 37, won NOTFC titles in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2022. The Boise native began offering private lessons at 15 and would go on to earn a bachelor’s in professional music at the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. where he met his future wife, Rachel. The couple now lives in Portland, Ore., Luke continuing to teach and record and perform original music with his Old Soul Pop band, ‘Love Dean.’ He has performed and collaborated with the likes of Tony Furtado, Scott Law, Jesse Harper, Sam Grisman, Jack Dwyer, Love Canon, Tristan and Tashina Clarridge, and many more. At left is Scott Sumner, Simon Chrisman, and Tristan Clarridge. Photo by Nancy Grindstaff
Nancy Grindstaff
After the rosin dust settled at the 70th annual National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest, Portland-based musician Luke Price won his fifth Grand National fiddle title Saturday night, becoming the sixth person to do so in the long history of Weiser’s prestigious event.
 A record number of 25 fiddlers entered the Grand National competition that started Friday. After the first round the number was cut to 13 for the second, played during Friday evening’s performances. From there, round three went to eight, and then to five for the final round.
 Following Price in the 2023 winning lineup are: Katrina Nicolayeff, Meridian, Idaho, the contest’s only six-time title holder;  Tristan Clarridge, Mount Shasta, Calif., a five-time title holder; Celeste Johnson, Denver, Colo.; and Katie Glassman, Marina Del Ray, Calif., both multiple NOTFC division title holders, as well.
 The total number of years attending Weiser between the five finalists alone adds up into the hundreds. 
 While waiting for the judges final tabulations, Saturday night’s audience was treated to a rousing “jamming” performance that included all five finalists, Price’s wife, Rachel, Dennis Ludiker, who finished in the top eight, bassist Simon Chrisman, and Scott and Anne Sumner on rhythm guitar. The musicians demonstrated their individual multifaceted talents between fiddling, flatpicking, backup, and singing, giving the audience a closer-up look into the ties between them.
 After the awards presentation and on his way out for more jamming in the campgrounds, Price summed up his feelings about the 2023 contest.
 “This year was amazing,” Price told the Weiser Signal American. “It was great to be part of the 70th annual National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest and it’s cool to see everybody live, and everybody being together. This is one of our favorite things of the year, every year. 
 “We try to come every year that we can and this is like our family reunion,” he added. “So, it’s great to be able to come and play with all these great musicians. We’re trying to keep fiddling alive, and not only keep it alive, but keep the joy of fiddling alive. So, I had an amazing, joyful time playing tonight and it was fun playing along with other people and getting to jam with them. And, the real heart of Weiser is out at the campgrounds, so that is where I’m heading now.”
 Price grew up in Meridian, competing at the NOTFC from the age of 7. He won the Junior-Junior title at 12, and the Junior division at 17, and holds a long list of awards from contests across the country. 
 He earned a B.A. in professional music from Berklee College of Music, before returning to Portland, where he and Rachel perform and record as the duo Love, DEAN.
 Along with performing, he continues to teach privately, instructs at music camps, and is on the staff of Lewis & Clark College in Portland teaching fiddle as an associate professor.


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