Sunday, March 20 at 6:30
Say Old Man Can, You Play the Fiddle
New England Fiddles
Plus some other goodies.
After the films, head next door to the Grafton for the
Paul Tyler, convener
From the Huasteca region, i.e., northern Veracruz. That’s in Mexico.
The fiddler is Osiris Caballero who visited Fiddle 4 Twin Fiddle last week. His group, Los Utrera performed at World Music Wednesday the next night. Thanks to Yahvi Pichardo for arranging this visit. Yahvi and Maria McCullough assist in this rendition of La Cielito Lindo.
Paul Tyler, convener
Upper Louisiana is Illinois. The first European-Americans to settle in our state were French. And when the British defeated the French in the Seven Years War, many of the French moved across the river to Missouri. French culture and traditional French folksongs and tunes have survived downstate for over two centuries. Prairie du Rocher, Illinois and Ste. Genevieve, Missouri still celebrate the coming of the New Year with La Guignole, a house-to-house visiting tradition similar to mumming in Newfoundland or old-style mardi gras in Cajun southwest Louisiana. A number of older fiddlers and singers from near Old Mines, Missouri kept the old songs alive for later generations.
La Guignolee played by Charlie Pasha (or Pashia) in 1976 for the landmark LP of field recordings, “I’m Old But I’m Awfully Tough: Traditional Music of the Ozark Region.”
(A 1950s recording of the full Prairie du Rocher singers can be found on Folksongs of Illinois #1.)
Another fine fiddler from Old Mines was Joe Politte. The following are a couple of his unnamed breakdowns recorded 30 years ago. The first one, in D, has been frequently taught at Old Town School fiddle classes under the title “Bass in the Hollow.”
Dennis Stroughmatt will be the featured guest at the next Fiddle Club of the World meeting on Sunday, March 28. A younger downstate fiddler and singer, Dennis learned directly from such traditional masters from Old Mines as Charlie Pashia and Roy Boyer. He leads two bands that cover a variety of French-American styles–L’Esprit Créole and Creole Stomp–but will appear as a soloist at the Fiddle Club of the World. That meeting is scheduled for 6:30p on March 28 at the Leadway Bar & Gallery (5233 N. Damen). Click here to register.
Paul Tyler, convener
Don’t miss hearing Arto play. It is sublime.
Check out this tune he made up while sitting on our couch.
This Saturday, he’ll be doing 2 workshops and a concert at Little Prairie Farm (aka Dot & Chirps place) near Kettle Moraine State Park in Wisconsin. Here’s the information on a flier
Here are some more artistic selections for you to enjoy.
From the 7th Midwest Fiddle Championship
1st place was awarded to Los Pichardos, a family band from Chicago and Oak Park, with Victor Pichardo on vihuela, his sons Yahvi on guitarra de golpe and Zacbe on arpa grande, and daughter Gabriela on fiddle. The lead fiddler is Juan Rivera, a native of the Tierra Caliente in the state of Michoacan, home of the style of music known as Son Planeco. The dancers were Serafin Guevara and his daughter, Andrea.
2nd Place went to Dr. Hojka’s Medicine Show with the Chicago Prairie Cloggers. The band featured Jordan Wankoff (of the Old Town School fiddle faculty) and Michelle Steinman on fiddles and Walter Hojka (also an Old Town School fiddle instructor) on keyboards. The Chicago Prairie Cloggers were organized for the occasion by Dr. Rebecca Unger from regulars at the Monday night dance sponsored by the Chicago Barn Dance Company.
3rd Place went to the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society. The three young fiddlers in the band included Itzaki Metropoulos, who took 1st in the Youth Division of our fiddle championship just a couple of years ago. The band also included a santur (hammered dulcimer) and a duf (a frame drum).
Here are links to more videos of the contest, all shot from the point of view of the emcee, who was on the stage. The sound is not so good. But it’s a great place to watch.
1st Los Pichardos
What talent we have in our city.
You’ve been there. You know that the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival is always a wealth of great music from all around the world. (If you haven’t yet been, we’ve missed you. Come on down to Welles Park the weekend of July 11-12.) So many great fiddlers will be there this year we could rename it the Folk & Roots Fiddle Fest.
It’s coming up next weekend: July 11 & 12. Here’s the basic info and a full schedule. What follows are some of the highlights of special interest to fiddlers and friends. There’s a lot of stuff here. I’m sure you’ll find something that moves you . . .
First up, on Thursday July 9, is a preview of Folk & Roots in Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square. For the past 6 years this has been the invitational round of the Midwest Fiddle Championship, with the finals scheduled for the Festival’s main stage. This year the preview will feature music from the dance tent: polkas, waltzes and square dancing. Everyone is invited to dance. All the dances are easy. There will be instruction for the square dances. Music starts at 7 pm. The last waltz is at 9:30.
Don’t miss this! Two special workshops are scheduled for 7 pm Friday evening, July 10 with Dan and Rayna Gellert. Dan was a guest at a Fiddle Club of the World meeting last March. He’ll be doing a workshop on old-time banjo (clawhammer). The workshop is titled “Drum on a Stick.” Register for it here.
Or you could do “Old-Time Fiddle with Rayna” (she’s Dan’s daughter). Register here.
Saturday (July 11) is the big day. It all starts with the 7th annualMidwest Fiddle Championship at 12:55 on the main stage. This year’s contest, presented by the Fiddle Club of the World (Chicago Chapter), is an invitational for five bands. Each band will be led by one or more fiddlers, and each band must also bring along one or more dancers. The bands will compete for $1,200 in prize money.
The full list of competing fiddlers is on the home page of the Folk & Roots website.
There’s more. Here are the fiddle-istic highlights for the Main Stage and Dance Tent. (Click on the blue link for more info.)
For the Square Dance!, Walter Hoijka will lead a mass open band, with Paul Tyler and Lynn Garren sharing the calling. Some special guests will join the open band.
Waltz Across Chicago will feature instruction for the waltz, polka, and hora. Music will be provide by three bands: The Fantastic Toe Trippers Orchestra, an American/Mexican/Baltic polka band, The Alte Schteibeles (The Old Schoolers), the School’s Klezmer Ensemble led by Jon Spiegel and Stu Rosenberg; and Simbolo Norteño, a neighborhood conjunto. Have a listen to a couple of the bands in rehearsal:
There’s still more! More fiddles and fiddle-friendly music can be heard on the Staff Stage and in the open jam sessions in the Welles Park Gazebo. Highlights include, but are not limited to, the following . . .
Welles Park Gazebo
Wow! What a fiddle-packed weekend to look forward to. Plus there’s lots of other great music as well. Don’t forget to check out the Nuestra Música stage and the Kids Tent
Let us know what you what you liked the most. Any surprises? Any tunes you heard you want to learn? See you there.
Paul Tyler, Convener
Besides being a good fiddler, Geoffrey Seitz is an excellent builder of fine violins. His shop in south St. Louis was recently featured in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch spread by photographer Erik Lunsford. Here, with permission from Mr. Lunsford, is a link to a slide-show about Seitz Violins.
Or maybe you’d like to hear Geoff Seitz play the fiddle. Here’s a couple of tracks from his 1995 CD, The Good Old Days Are Here.
It would be a good thing if Geoff could come to Chicago someday and be a featured guest artist at a meeting of the Fiddle Club of the World. I’ll work on it.
Paul Tyler, convener
I just found this old photo of the Sugar Hill Serenaders, a band formed in the 1980s around Lotus Dickey to perform at school assemblies for Young Audiences of Indiana.
Lotus’ tunes are always good to play. Here’s a couple.
Besides Lotus, the only Sugar Hill Serenader heard on these recordings is your humble correspondent, who is trying to follow on guitar on the first two. On the third piece, Lotus is accompanied by Linda Handelsman and Dillon Buston at the 1981 Indiana Fiddlers Gathering in Battle Ground. This trio appeared on an earlier post to this blog with a rendition of Oyster River Hornpipe.
If you want to know more about Lotus, check out the Lotus Dickey Music website maintained by Grey Larson. Lotus was a very fine fiddler. But he also made his mark as a songwriter. I remember him mostly as a sage elder, a keen eye on the world, and a good friend.
Paul Tyler, convener
Click blue links to download or to listen to these .mp3s.
Click here for tips and troubleshooting on how to get at these .mp3s.
Recordings used by permission of the artists. Click on their names or photos for links to their websites or info on their CDs &c. (Tom, Brad & Alice)
Recorded by Lynn Garren at the Bluff Country Gathering in Lanesboro, Minnesota on May 17, 2008.
Return to Bluff Country Gathering post and link to more recordings.
Maria McCullough, a charter member of the Chicago chapter of the Fiddle Club of the World, represented the Fiddle Department on an exchange program that sent five Old Town School teachers and two administrators to Newcastle, England and Helsinki, Finland this past spring. Armed with a video camera and sound recorder, Maria digitally captured some fabulous folk music moments.
You can visit the Old Town School Connect blog to read Maria’s comments and peruse some of the footage. I highly recommend the videos of the Rapper Sword Dance, performed in a pub in Newcastle, and the demonstration of the Jouhikko, an archaic bowed lyre now being taught to students at the in the Folk Music Department of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.
The Sibelius Academy parallels the Old Town School in many ways, including offering ensemble classes dedicated to traditional folk music. Maria got to participate in one such class taught by Olli Varis. A mandolinist and guitarist, Olli is a veteran of some of Finland’s best known professional folk music groups, including Koinurit, Värttinä and the Helsinki Mandoliners.
Here’s a three-part tune taught by Olli.
And here’s the ensemble class wailing away at the tune. The Old Town School’s Steve Levitt joins in on guitar on the right. What is the one major difference between this class in Helsinki and Old Time Ensemble at the Old Town School (I mean besides the fact that the students are reading music off the stands in front of them)? These Finnish students are receiving college credit for learning their old time music!
For more of the flavor of folk music in Finland and England, peruse Maria’s comments on the On the Road blog. For a taste of fiddling in northern England, try her recording of a lesson with fiddler Ruth Ball. The tune is the “Dunstanburgh Rant.” Here’s a shorter clip of the full tune at a moderate tempo. (Rants are like reels. They should played pretty fast.)