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A week of fiddle riches . . .

Posted by bj on Saturday, September 19, 2009

Since coming home from Lake Genero, my head has been buzzing with all the new tunes. Luckily I have wonderful recordings of them, thanks to my Lake Genero camping neighbor, Art Bryan. He mailed me a bunch of wonderful CDs, some of which feature the fiddling of Allan Block (Rory Block's dad.)

Today I was supposed to head up to Fireback Fiddle Contest, after working at the Lambertville Market, but instead ended up spending a good bit of the afternoon visiting with Jose', a local violin dealer who has been working with fiddles for many many years (he's well into his 70's.) Jose' is a total delight, a courtly gentleman originally from Barcelona Spain. He had lots of goodies to show me in both fiddles and bows. This often turns into a lesson on fiddles and bows, and I'm happy to sit at the foot of the master.

But today I didn't get my lesson until after I helped give one. As I began to check out Jose's fiddles, newly spread out across the vacated flea market table next to mine, a young man originally from Guatemala came over with his eyes alight. Jose' and the young man got into a rapid discussion in Spanish, only some of which I could follow. I ended up demonstrating every one of the fiddles on the table with the only two bows that Jose' had with hair on them, and giving a lesson in tuning and basic bowing. The young man from Guatemala ended up walking away the proud owner of a respectable beginner fiddle, a decent bow, and an old case for 50 bucks. His smile was wonderful.

Jose' then proceeded to give me my lesson. I had to pick out of two boxes of bows, the two that were pernambuco. I got it right, though it took me awhile. I then got a lesson in how to tell a well carved stick, what to look for under magnification and where on the bow to look for it. Then I had to pick out the other bows in the box that had been well carved. There were a few besides the pernambuco bows.

Jose' had a really nice American fiddle, a wonderful Salzard french fiddle (a sister to mine, though by a different member of that Mirecourt family), a couple German fiddles, one of which was very nice, and a couple okay student fiddles, one of which went home with the nice young man.

It was tough having so many bows in front of me and only being able to play two of them!

I ended up with a brain full of fiddle facts and a pocket full of working fine tuners for the fiddle projects I've got.

And when I got home I found more CDs in my mailbox, these from one of my FHO friends, who needed help with something, and sent them as a thank you. Wow, such fiddle riches!

Meanwhile I'm spending about 15-20 minutes a day cursing at my new banjo. My right hand really does NOT know how to act without a bow in it!

4 comments on “A week of fiddle riches . . .”

Mandogryl Says:
Sunday, September 20, 2009 @4:55:30 AM

WOW, is all I can say. You had a wonderful day!
I would love to go to a flea market where not one, but two tables had fiddles for sale, if I understand you correctly.
And to have that knowledge available........ that was great.
I bet today, this morning, you are emmersed in everything fiddle.
You lucky person, you.

bj Says:
Sunday, September 20, 2009 @5:11:27 AM

Nope, just one table, and it wasn't an "official" table. Jose' comes to the market to buy fiddles, and his vehicle trunk is always full of them by the end of the day. I sometimes set up there to offload shopworn stuff that's accumulated from my part time Vintage Clothing business. I always bring my fiddle, and I've occasionally put fiddles for sale out on the table. It's how I met Jose' -- he can sniff out a 3/4 tailpiece at the bottom of a box full of kitchen utensils under a pile of other junk. And the day I met him he pointed to the inside of my truck bed, under a pile of tarps and pack blankets, where my own fiddle case was hidden, and asked how much I wanted for the fiddle! At the end of his picking and my selling day, he comes and plays show and tell.

You're right, I'm very lucky to have met him. He's a wonderful man.

janepaints Says:
Friday, October 30, 2009 @8:07:28 PM

So why doncha try bowing yer banjo? Works for me. Clears the room in no time, too. No more self-consciousness because all those dang audience members are sitting there, expecting something.

bj Says:
Friday, October 30, 2009 @8:15:47 PM

And I thought the bridge on the french fiddle was too flat!

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