Katie Shore

Katie Shore fiddles “music you can clap your hands and stomp your feet to.” Photo by Phil Houseal

Aug 9, 2023–Here’s a life lesson for aspiring musicians:

“The more you play, the more you play.”

That’s the motto of a recent Hill Country resident, who also, oh, happens to have been the fiddler for Asleep At The Wheel for eight years.

“I still feel like a student,” Katie Shore said after playing for the Pedernales Creative Arts Allicance Concert in the Park on a recent Sunday. “I’ve been teaching at a few camps this year. And I love that, because I feel like I’m still such a student myself.”

For Shore, the learning never ends.

“I never thought about the bow, until I had played for 20 years,” she said of a recent learning leap. “Then I’m going, oh, okay, that makes sense. What is that saying? It takes 20 years to be a master of something. I’ve been playing for 30 years and I feel like I’ve got a long way to go.”

Shore told of jamming with a fiddler in his 90s.

“He said, ‘Katie, you know, if I don’t practice for a day, I can tell. But if I don’t practice for two days, the audience can tell.’ It was the first time anybody had said that to me, and it just really kind of hit home.”

Lack of practice was never an issue for Shore, who was only 6 when she declared she wanted to be a fiddle player. She grew up in Fort Worth, attending fiddle contests and music camps, performed with the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra, and earned a degree in Commercial Music. Besides the Wheel, Shore performed with Willie Nelson and George Strait, and her folks would take her to Waco and drop her off at Johnny Gimble’s house.

But most of her learning came from sitting in jam sessions in the very incubator of Texas swing.

“I was fortunate to grow up in Fort Worth,” she said. She recalled long trips from Cowtown to their family place outside of San Saba when she was 14. “There’s a blinking light town on 281 called Adamsville. There was this music hall that always caught our attention, and it would be full of cars. We were driving down there on a Saturday, and I asked my folks if we could just pull in and see what it was.”

What it was, was a jam session–the first of many she would attend.

“All these small towns had these jam sessions going on and that was so formative for me,” Shore said. “I remember one day I don’t think I even got up from my chair for about nine hours, just playing. These old guys would play and they were excited about us younger kids coming up. They would just play for hours with us. And that was so special in such a big part of my life growing up. I’m so thankful for that.”

That background led to gigs with top artists, her own CD, and being named Musician of the Year for the Ameripolitan Music Awards.

While having taken classical lessons and loving that style of music, she has developed a unique technique that “came naturally.”

“Being the hillbilly that I am, I love to dance, and I love to play dances like the other night at MarktPlatz. It was such a great gig and a great time. But that’s always kind of grabbed me from the time I was a little kid. My folks always said, you told us you wanted to play the kind of music you can clap your hands and stomp your feet to. And that’s kind of always been the case.”

More and more she is working on her own writing and is comfortable being out front.

“My writing is rooted in swing, but my goal is to kind of push the envelope of that. And so I’ve been writing some and working towards putting a band together. I’ve got a great group of guys, a lot of them were in the Wheel with me.”

You can see her at one of her solo shows, which she occasionally does in and around the Hill Country. But maybe not for long.

“I would like to get a band on the road at some point. You know, the Wheel was really a dream come true. And I love that gig and I love Ray and the music and the people that come to the shows. But it is nice to be able to just have some other opportunities to play with some different people. I do like being a sideman. But I do like fronting a band. So I’m working towards doing more of that.”

Like all satisfying tales, Katie Shore and her fiddle is a love story.

“I just always wanted to play what I wanted to hear, you know, and I enjoy the violin so much. It’s right under your chin, it’s right by your heart. Just the way that it resonates, and vibrates. It just feels good. That’s what I’ve always loved about it.”