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Old Time 90% of the Time!

Posted by fiddlepogo on Friday, September 26, 2008

Recently there's been a thread called "Calling All Old Time".

Most of us responding at least DABBLE in other styles.

Except M-D- his tagline says "Old Time, All The Time!".

Sometimes I wish I could do that-

it would make life simpler.

I certainly TRIED my first four years as a fiddler.

And then fiddling for fourteen years in isolation, all my fiddling

was the Old Time tunes I'd learned that first four years.


Since getting back into fiddling 3 and 1/2 years ago, it's HARDstaying focused.  One thing is the variety of jams- there are Irish jams, a bluegrass jam, a Balkan dance, 2 general folk jams, and an amplified Country jam in town.  I don't think I'm going to go to the Irish jams, the Balkan Dance or the Country Jam- I just don't have the energy for what that would require.  But the General Folk jams are a potpourri of styles... well, the main flavor is country-folk, but you never know what'll turn up.  So you learn to flex and sound like that style- sort of, kind of!  The Old Time jam I host is small, and most participants are beginners or intermediates, so we seldom get outside of my repertoire- and the only guy that challenged me to learn new tunes just moved away!

Then there are gigs- I'm gigging more, and the volunteering continues.  Old Time is a big part of my basic gig format since there are about a dozen familar tunes that could possibly be categorized as Old Time.

BUT you have audience members from different ethnic groups-  Irish of course, but I also have a Quebecoise lady and a Cuban lady in one facility.

And it's really not that hard for an Old Time fiddler to play French Canadian tunes, or a couple popular Mexican tunes which are similar to waltz fiddling.

DougD posted a Cajun video I found very appealing.

Still, none of these other genres realistically has enough pull that  I'm going to go whole hog and learn every tune in that genre I can find, like with Quebecois tunes, there are certain ones that grab me and make sense to learn, and many that don't, so I don't bother.  If I learn any Cajun tunes, I'm sure I will be very selective about those too.

Also, when gigging, variety is generally a good thing, unless you know you have an audience that is 100% sold out for one genre- and locally, audiences that are 100% sold out Old Time are, well, non-existant.

Since I have at least a hundred Old Time tunes memorized or getting worked up, and it's so easy to learn new ones, these other genres I'm learning really won't have a chance to catch up- Old Time will always be #1...but if I dabble in enough other genres, and learn say 20 tunes per genre, the percentage of Old Time could sink drastically.  But right now I'd say it's around 90%

3 comments on “Old Time 90% of the Time!”

bj Says:
Friday, September 26, 2008 @12:44:44 PM

In a way, now that I'm getting out and about, I'm finding the same issue, though in a different way. Most of the jams around here mix oldtime and bluegrass. And the only "only oldtime" jam mixes crosstuners with standard tuners!

I'm not sure I want to fiddle bluegrass style at this time, but if I open my mouth to sing, I immediately get yanked into any bluegrass circle that's nearby. I gues that's as it should be, since I've been a vocalist all my life. I can sure do that a lot better than I can fiddle!

I don't have an audience yet, so I don't have to worry about their likes and dislikes when it comes to oldtime fiddling. As it stands now, I'd chase 'em off the minute I pick up the bow . . .

I personally think Cajun and Oldtime are more like crossover genres than separate genres, since they share so many bowing styles and idiosyncracies. I don't think one precludes the other, I think you can mix it up with both. Harder to do that with Irish or some of the other more lyrical styles. Cajun has a hard edge, as does Oldtime.

lg Says:
Sunday, September 28, 2008 @8:19:36 PM

You want an audience that appreciates old-time? Try playing at a local farmer's market. We play tunes for hours and everyone - vendors and the folks who come to shop - enjoys it. The folks who come to shop may not stay long, but the vendors are there longer than we are.

fiddlepogo Says:
Monday, September 29, 2008 @9:52:09 AM

Actually I DO play at a local Farmer's Market, and one in a nearby town.
The thing is, Farmer's Markets vary greatly in personality.
And ya gotta remember, this is California.
The local one has a lot of hippies and yuppies in addition to some farmer-vendors and elderly and average Californians looking for bargains.
And students, and prolly professors too- it's a college town.
The response is good- but not overwhelming. And there is a lot of competition for spaces.
Also, the nature of the audience has me tempted to throw in some
Celtic stuff, or at least do more of my modal tunes.
The thing is, you have so many different kinds of people, that you can't
just focus on one flavor and expect to do well, you need LOTS of variety.

The other Farmer's Market is actually a paying gig I only get to do
once or twice a summer- it's in a country town a half hour away from here,
and I'd say it's a better fit- it's a small farm town, and it's COUNTRY!
No students, hippies, or yuppies!
Turkey in the Straw and Arkansas Traveler are just great and
then I get out the guitar and do old country hits.
I wish I could do that one every week, but it's so small they really only
have room for one music act, and they like to hire local talent too, and I'm not local.

I'm guessing your in a semi-small town in... Illinois?
And that the audience is probably about halfway between my two
Farmer's Markets.

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