• Bluegrass
  • Celtic
  • Old-Time
  • Improvisation
  • Texas-Style
  • Cajun
  • Private Lessons
  • Workshops
  • Performances
John Blasquez's fiddling expertise covers many styles. He plays bluegrass fiddle, American old-time fiddle, Celtic fiddle (primarily Irish and Scottish dance music) Country & Western, and Swing. He's a seasoned performer and an experienced, resourceful, and patient instructor.

John entered the men's division of the National Old-Time Fiddler’s Contest in 1983, 1985, 1988, and 1989. On each occasion he placed in the Top-10. In 1983, competing in a field of 107 fiddlers from across the nation, in his first attempt in any fiddle contest, John took 7th place. An impressive accomplishment, especially considering that he had begun fiddle just nine years earlier. John's students have become contest winners as well.


In addition to teaching private lessons, John leads music workshops in Walnut Creek, CA:

The Old-time Fiddlers Association has regularly enlisted John's teaching skills for the CSOTFA Youth Workshop in Castro Valley, CA.

This summer was his fifth year teaching at the Fiddlekids music camp in El Cerrito, CA. He's been on staff at other workshops including the California Coast Music Camp.


John has played fiddle with many of the San Francisco Bay Area's bluegrass bands – most notably Heartland. John was one of Heartland's three longtime members, along with Jim Nunally and Amy Stenberg.

Jim Nunally, guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and recording engineer, is one of the few local musicians to win two Grammy's in the field of bluegrass. Possessing a long list of local and international partnerships, both in live performance and recording projects, Jim's guitar expertise is always in demand. Currently Jim performs with Due West, the Jaybirds, and The David Grisman Experience. And for the last several years he has performed locally and on tour in duet with guitarist and mandolinist Dix Bruce

Bassist and vocalist Amy Stenberg was one of Heartland's founding members. Amy's voice, humor, stage presence enliven any show. She's an ever popular performer. So it's no surprise that she has appeared with so many of the Bay Area's bluegrass bands. Presently she performs and tours extensively with the Kathy Kallick Band.

When John played his award winning performances at the National Old-Time Fiddle contest, it was Jim Nunally and Amy Stenberg who accompanied him, playing guitar and bass.

Heartland always maintained an impressive line up of musicians. Members included Rob Ickes (Grammy Award winner, and the IBMA's Dobro Player of the Year, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00), Tony Furtado (twice the Winfield National Banjo Champion), and Alison Brown (IBMA Banjo Player of the Year 1991).

Over the years
Heartland's lineup included other wonderful musicians as well, including two founding members banjoist Debby Cotter (now Debby Cotter Kaspari) and dobroist Tom Enguidanos. Last mentioned, but not least, mandolinist and dobroist Keith Baumann! Plus, shall we say, a member of Hearland's twilight, one of my favorite local musicians, Erik Thomas.

Heartland's peak performing years were between 1983 and 1990. During that time Heartland performed at northern California’s finest bluegrass festivals, including repeat performances at the Grass Valley Bluegrass Festival, the Strawberry Music Festival, the Mid-Summer Bluegrass Festival, and the La Honda Festival.

Heartland appeared on TV and radio including KQED, KCSM and KPFA.

Heartland also performed at all sorts of concerts and celebrations throughout the greater Bay Area. Highlights included two performances at San Francisco's Ethnic Folk Dance Festival where they accompanied the Cornmashers, cloggers par excellence.

John still performs with other local musicians. For over a decade he's played with Harry Liedstrand (who played for many years with Kenny Hall, the Portable Folk Festival and the Sweetsmill String Band) performing Celtic, American old-time, and international music. Together John & Harry are know frequently known as The Malarchy Brothers, with de facto member Daren Santos. John and Harry performed at Lalimes in Berkeley for rousing St. Patrick's Day celebrations five years straight.

John also performs a variety of music with Sylvia Herold, guitarist, vocalist and mandolinist, best known for her swing-genre performances with the Bay Area’s Cats and Jammers, Wake the Dead, and she played frequently with Parisian swing band The Hot Club of San Francisco.

Recently John has teamed up with other musicians including Bobbi Nikles, Paul Katopish, Ray Bierl, Danny Carnahan, performing celtic and old-time music at celebrations and dances.

Years back John performed Celtic and old-time fiddle with hammered dulcimer player Karen Kaye and fiddler Scott Renfort to whom he is quite indebted for their generous sharing of tunes.


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Presently John focuses on
teaching private music lessons and workshops,
and performing in the local community.
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Top-ten Finalist, four times at
the National Old-time Fiddlers’ Contest.
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28 years teaching experience.
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*The IBMA is
The International Bluegrass Music Association.

The National Old-time Fiddlers Contest in in Weiser, Idaho, and is part of the National Old-time fiddlers Association, which has local branches throughout the country.


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Fiddle, Guitar, Violin, Mandolin & Bodhran
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