My teacher was the one who helped get my family into old-time and bluegrass music. He and my stepfather ended up being in the same band and my mom did sound. Don was the one who let me hear his Dock Boggs and Roscoe Holcomb records which influenced me greatly. He was always playing various instruments in class and singing old songs, but never too much with a fiddle.
Not so coincidentally, the great competition-winning clawhammer banjo player Adam Hurt had Don as an elementary teacher, too. Here is a quote from Adam, "I was first made aware of folk music by Don Paden, my homeroom teacher in a Saint Paul, Minnesota public school. Don played several folk instruments: mandolin was his favorite but he also played fiddle, guitar,and others. He regularly brought these instruments into his classroom, to show his students an art form that we had likely never known". Don's passion for the music was clearly contagious. The picture above is Don playing fiddle in String Fever Bluegrass band in 1990's."
I started going through and digitalizing all of the old Minnesota tapes that Dan Radford let me borrow on my last visit. I was not more than 15 minutes into the first tape when out comes, "our next contestant from Saint Paul is Don Paden, accompanied by Bill Hinkley", from the 1992 Cotton fiddle contest. What made it extra special is that Bill Hinkley is a local old-time legend who recently passed away.
Don Paden. Cotton, MN 1992.
Bill Hinkley. Cotton, MN 1992.
I am assuming that when it was Bill Hinkley's turn, Don was accompanying him. Don was a student of Bill's at the time. Here is a few of the selections that both men play.