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Playing Since: 2006
Experience Level: Intermediate
Occupation: self employed
Vassar Clements, Bobby Hicks, Aubrey Hainey, Debra Coleman, Darol Anger, John Creach, Stephane Grappelli, John Hartford, Mark O'Connor, the guy at the local violin shop, the next person who makes me say "wow" at a jam
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Last Visit 2/26/2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 @7:39:33 AM
I spent most of the Memorial Day weekend at a mostly acoustic music/picnic in Tioga County, PA. I had a great weekend full of family and music, and decided this morning to have a go at this blogging thing.
I arrived Friday with my son and my nine year old grandson, and with the other members of The Backwoods Experiment. My daughter and my two younger grandkids arrived on Saturday.
We set camp in woods away from the main camping fields, and went down to the stage area. The Hickory Project was playing, with Coleman Smith on fiddle. Coleman is an outstanding young fiddler (young as in everyone under 40 looks young to me). His style is jazz influenced, although he can play anything. Coleman is well worth hearing if you get the opportunity.
Jeff Wisor, fiddler for David Bromberg, was present. Unfortunately, I missed Jeff play with the Hickory Project because we had returned to camp to pick.
I did get to hear Grass Stained Genes, a local bluegrass band. Every time I hear that band I am impressed with the progress made by its "young" fiddler. He is really working his tail off in the woodshed, and it shows.
We did a lot of picking at camp. My grandson sat in with us some, chopping on the mandolin and singing. Big fun for Pops!
We started our last jam after dark. I was aware of people walking through the woods and lingering to listen, but I was too focused on my fiddle to really take note. At one point after a song, I heard someone say "nice job fiddler". I looked up and counted 20 people who I could see by the light of our fire. I checked the time, and it was 2:00 a.m. Those people stuck with us until we quit at 3 a.m. I assume that there were more people beyond where I could see. That was the highlight of the show to me, that people decided to spend their evening where they could hear us play.
A high point of my Saturday was hearing a three piece band from New York State, which featured fiddle, acoustic guitar and acoustic bass. They were all excellent musicians, and they played a great mix of gypsy jazz, Texas style swing, and a lot more. The fiddler was absolutely wonderful, and an excellent singer to boot. She had great technique, and her sound reflected the same. Everything that she played was first rate. Although her technical proficiency was always evident, it was never featured as an end in itself, but instead always served as a vehicle to support her artistic expression. She was great, and I like to think that I learned a lot from studying her.
We played our set on stage at midnight. I was somewhat uncomfortable because it was only my second time playing fiddle out with the band. We are a five piece band, with guitar, mandolin, banjo, upright bass and fiddle, and we play off of mics set on one stand. I had not considered issues raised by the need to run in and out from the mic, and I had some rough starts while trying to decide whether to play first or to run first. Silly as it sounds, I intend to mix in some quick three step runs when I practice band songs at home. My intonation and bowing were very rough at first. I went through my mental checklist of form issues. It took a couple of songs before I felt that my tone and intonation were tolerable. The big surprise to me was when we played a song that I prefer to not play, Del McCoury’s Mountain Song, which my son insists on playing in F sharp, and someone yelled something positive about the fiddling. My son and I cracked up.
Hearing great music, and spending the weekend either with grandkids on my lap or with my fiddle in my hand, made for a great weekend. I am still far from being able to call myself a fiddler, but I sure got a kick out of the times when someone else called me a fiddler last weekend.
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