16th year of Fiddlers! planned for Oct. 11
Roxbury — Fiddlers!, The Roxbury Arts Group’s popular annual event will mark its 16th year on Sunday, Oct. 11 from 1 to 10 p.m. This day of traditional music includes old-fashioned square dancing, a jam session for all area musicians as well as a concert performance by some of the top fiddle virtuosos in North America. A new feature will be a square dance workshop to encourage more new dancers to participate in the square dance portion of the day. There will be country food, a delectable table of home baked goodies by the best community bakers, and a full assortment of beers, wines and soft drinks for sale all day. Admission is $15 or $12 for seniors and students to the whole day’s entertainment. For more information call 607 326-7908.
The festivities begin at 1 p.m. with a square dance. Led by Hilt Kelly and the SideKicks, this workshop will teach the basic moves and the etiquette of traditional square dance.
From 2 to 4 p.m. there will be an old fashioned square dance with Hilt Kelly and the SideKicks. Hilt is the Catskills ‘pre-eminent fiddlers, a member of the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame and the namesake of RAG’s Hilt Kelly Hall, in which Fiddlers! takes place. The SideKicks include Hilt’s wife Stella on keyboard, Don Strausser on guitar, and Don Irwin on guitar vocals and back up caller.
At 4 p.m., in the Carriage House of the Jay Gould Memorial Church, all local musicians are invited to participate in a jam session. This event was one of the highlights of last year’s Fiddlers! with cloggers, hammer dulcimer players, guitarists, and other instrumentalists joining fiddlers in a free form and fabulous two hours.
At 6 p.m., the concert begins with a short set by Hilt Kelly and the SideKicks, followed by Jackie Hobbs with George Harrington, Alice Briggs and Diana Lynn. Jackie is a favorite Fiddlers! performer who is descended from a family that has been fiddling for generations
Following Jackie will be Kevin Burke and Calvin Scott. Kevin is one of the greatest Irish fiddlers of the past half-century. Born in Ireland, raised in England and now making his home in Portland, Oregon, he is a perfect exemplar for the far-flung Irish diaspora. Calvin Scott, composer and guitarist has been working with Kevin as an arranger, composer and performer for over two years and the partnership is a perfect blending of style, personality and understanding.
Topping off the evening is April Verch, champion Canadian fiddler, stepdancer, and singer bringing together Celtic, jazz, folk, and bluegrass influences. April will be performing with Cody Walters on bass and banjo and Clay Ross on guitar.
Verch is emerging as one of the top female artists in the roots music genre. She has built a repertoire rich in original tunes influenced deeply by the treasure chest of musical jewels passed down through the generations. Her fiddling and step dancing styles were shaped by the diverse roots of the immigrants drawn to the region’s lumber camps in the mid-1800s.
The April Verch Band, with April at the helm on the fiddle, delivers richly textured phrasing on traditional roots tunes, bluegrass and newgrass melodies, jazz-influenced compositions, and country music. When April trades her fiddling for the rhythmic art of step dancing, the band takes on the sound of the old lumber camp halls where those without instruments created rhythms with their feet. The metal taps on April’s shoes generate exhilarating cadences that enhance her traditional Ottawa Valley arrangements. It’s even more impressive when April continues playing intricate rifts on her fiddle while dancing the rhythmic pulse that drives the tune. The overall effect on her audiences is electrifying.