Roger Howell is one of the most popular regional traditional fiddlers and mountain musicians of Southern Appalachia. His guitar finger-picking style harkens back recollections of the great Sam McGee, Doc Watson, and Norman Blake, while his clawhammer banjo work is pleasant and rhythmic to the listener. His unique flowing fiddle style takes on similarities to that of the late John Hartford, who was a personal friend and who passed on a lot of tunes to Roger over the years. Howell's fiddling can be heard in the later recordings of the late Carroll Best String Band, and his studio work on different instruments has graced over 30 albums by many different artists over the years.
A major influence in Roger's fiddle style was Fiddlin' Arthur Smith, of the early Grand Ol' Opry, and his music was passed down to Roger from Smith's eldest son Ernest Smith. Howell's music is popular all over the Southern Appalachian region, and especially in Western North Carolina, where he can often be seen on stage at most any of the area music festivals and gatherings year round. A champion of the region's rich Scotch-Irish musical heritage, Roger recently completed his mammoth 532-song "Memory Collection of Fiddle Tunes" for Mars Hill University's Lunsford Collection Archives, which solidifies his reputation as a "walking encyclopedia" of fiddle history. His many years growing up at the feet of local fiddle legends such as Tommy Hunter and Woodrow Boone really shaped his repertoire and style of playing. An award-winning musician of the highest caliber, Roger Howell continues to be one of the region's premier traditional fiddlers and multi-instrumentalists, and is continuing the tradition of handing down the music to the younger generations. His concerts and musical performances are popular and often sold-out, and his recordings are the next best thing to seeing him on stage. He can often be found sharing the stage with many of the pro musicians from the area, including 10-time Grammy Winner Bobby Hicks at Zuma Coffee in Marshall every Thursday night in Madison County. His fiddle style has often been described as "soothing" or "flowing", but one thing for sure, it's unique and always recognizable. Roger's bow style often incorporates the used of "double stops" and "long bowing" techniques, which separates his music from most others in the region. His music is still in high demand these days, and if you're lucky enough to catch Roger Howell on stage sometime in the summer in the Western NC area, you can say that you've heard some darn good old-time music.