2018 RIBA Hall of Fame inductee
Sam Tidwell was the son of William (Bill) H. Thibodeau and Clara Ducharme Thibodeau. Bill was a concert violinist who played in the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Sam and his brothers learned to play violin and piano at a very young age. Sam continued with music throughout his life, instilling his love for the craft not only in his sons but to everyone with whom he came into contact.
Born in Rhode Island, Sam also lived in Maine and Florida before returning to Rhode Island to live out the remainder of his life.
While serving his country in the United States Air Force, he met and played music with other servicemen, developing and affinity for country music and most notably for bluegrass. He was funny and engaging, and his jokes became as well-known as his love of music.
After leaving the Air Force, he worked for Raytheon Corporation as an electronics engineer. He soon found that this was not his passion. He left this career to open a music store and provide music lessons to many young, aspiring and talented folks who have continued to share their love of the art.
Sam left a legacy to this amazing bluegrass community. Together, he and his wife of 35 years, Edith Thibodeau, raised, their eight children and many grandchildren, worked on their farm, sang together and held wonderful annual bluegrass festivals at their farm.
Sam worked with many of the greats including, Red Smiley, Don Reno, Judd Strunk and Mac Wiseman. His many achievements include: his band, the Kennebec Valley Boys being invited to appear on Good Morning America. His song, “The Last Log Drive” was placed in the Library of Congress and was chosen as the background music for the documentary by the same name. Sam was chosen to be among the 250 “Pioneers of Bluegrass” in an exhibit at the National Bluegrass Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky and was a recipient of the Heritage Award given at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival.
Sam was one of a kind. His love of bluegrass music will live on through his sons and his students and through the Rhode Island Bluegrass Alliance. He was truly a Pioneer.