August 14, 2008
Tristan Clarridge Falls Asleep Onstage During Final Round of Weiser, Still Wins
WEISER, IDAHO — Four-time Weiser National Old Time Fiddle Champion and confirmed narcoleptic Tristan Clarridge, 21, has extended his winning record at the prestigious contest with an unprecedented fifth victory.
“Tristan’s triumph over his disability, narcolepsy, is the real story here,” said world-renowned fiddler Mark O’Connor, whose legendary success at the fiddle contest has inspired an entire generation of young players.
Clarridge easily advanced to the sixth-and-final round with his highly inventive, perfectly-executed renditions of such Texas fiddle classics as Angels’ Waltz, Say Old Man, and Hot Foot.
But during his final round performance he briefly succumbed to his affliction, falling asleep unexpectedly for about fifteen seconds during the fourth B-part of Dusty Miller, according to eyewitnesses.
“I can’t believe he still won. Tristan Clarridge is truly unbeatable at Weiser,” said accompanist Anthony Mature.
“Yeah, we were on the road nonstop for a month leading up to the contest, and he never even had a spare minute to practice,” said Greg Liszt, Clarridge’s bandmate in the alt-bluegrass group Crooked Still. “Plus which he’d stay up all night planning Mount Shasta Fiddle Camp, which seriously compounded his medical condition with sleep deprivation.”
“When an individual with a pathological love for sleep is deprived of rest, especially deep REM sleep, he or she risks losing consciousness at even at the most critical junctures,” added Dr. Thomas Bursonsen, Crooked Still’s band psychiatrist.
Indeed, Clarridge has been known to fall asleep in a variety of seemingly impossible positions including the inverse fetal position, the lotus position, bolt upright, downward-facing dog, mantis defense posture, headstand, tree pose, one-arm bridge position, and the complete splits, often in extremely noisy environments such as bars and concert stages.
By winning Weiser, Clarridge thwarted challenges from his sister, Tashina Clarridge; Kimber Ludiker, daughter of former Weiser champ and Texas stalwart Tony Ludiker; and high school fiddle prodigy Alex Hargreaves.
“My dad took Mark O’Connor to school at this contest in 1983. At least Tristan will never take that away from me and my family,” said Ms. Ludiker, who finished third this year.
Clarridge, also a professional cellist, has announced his intention to continue to compete at Weiser National Old Time Fiddler’s Contest indefinitely.