Frankfort hears a bit of bluegrass

Published 2:12 pm Monday, March 26, 2018

A Harlan County native recently took her fiddle and headed to Frankfort as part of an ensemble from the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music to play for the Kentucky House of Representatives, ending up in a jam session with a legislator.

Natalie Tomlinson, 19, was part of the troupe that made the trip on March 7.

According to Tomlinson, KSBTM is located in Hyden and features instructors such as Bobby Osborne of the Osborne Brothers.

Email newsletter signup

“A few of us from the bluegrass school went to play at the state capital in Frankfort for the Kentucky House of Representatives,” Tomlinson said. “It was a huge honor. We played a bluegrass version of “My Old Kentucky Home.”

“Afterwards, Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins got a guitar and we had a good, old-fashioned jam session right in the middle of the hallway,” Tomlinson said.

A video of the impromptu jam session was eventually uploaded to YouTube.

“It had over 35,000 views in about four to six hours,” Tomlinson said. “Within about two days, it had over 70,000 views.”

Tomlinson said she began playing music and studying violin with Clara Pope in Harlan.

“A few of my friends were taking violin lessons, and my parents asked me if I’d like to start,” Tomlinson said. “I agreed. I played classical music until I was about 11 or 12, and then I took it upon myself to go a more bluegrass and traditional country route with my music.”

Tomlinson says she is primarily a fiddle player, but also plays guitar and mandolin. Osborne is her mandolin instructor.

“Outside of school, I’m the fiddle player for a traditional bluegrass band out of Whitesburg called Sunrise Ridge,” Tomlinson said. “I’ve played with them constantly since July 2015. We have shows pretty much every week and usually stay booked. You can find their page at I’ll play with about anyone that wants me to if I can, though.”

Natalie’s parents are John Bill Tomlinson and Pam Tomlinson, and she will be graduating from KSBTM in May. After that, she plans on going to Lincoln Memorial University to study business administration.

More information on Tomlinson can be found at

“Through the last couple years, I’ve played around 75 shows per year,” Tomlinson said. “I have also been to be able to work as a staff musician at the Jenny Wiley Theater in Pikeville and play at the historic Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia. My biggest dream is to perform on the Grand Ole Opry someday.”