Fiddler's master class at RAG

Roxbury — Wish you could add Catskills’ fiddle tunes to your repertory? On two Sundays, December 11 and January 22, from 1 to 4 p.m., Catskills Folk Connection, a project of the Manhattan Country School Farm in Roxbury, will present legendary fiddler and square dance caller, Hilt Kelly, along with his band, The SideKicks, in a masters’ class at Roxbury Arts Group’s Hilt Kelly Hall.

The class is designed for fiddle and violin players who would like the opportunity to play with Hilt and the SideKicks, to learn Catskills’ tunes and how they are played by veterans of many decades of square dances and concerts. Hilt and the Sidekicks will present some tunes and then ask participants to join in a jam for the rest of the afternoon.

Musical details
There will be opportunities to ask the musicians for details about their styles and individual techniques. Informal recording will be permitted so you can take the tunes home and practice them. Beginners are welcome to watch and listen, but there will be no basic instruction.
Hilt, joined in the band by his wife Stella, has played fiddle since he was a boy and began teaching while he was still a student at Fleischmanns School. As a young man he called dances so often he had to slow down on account of his health.

Back to playing
After taking some years off to raise their family, Hilt and Stella decided he should get back into playing and calling. Under Hilt’s instruction, Stella revived her early piano skills and they invited Don Irwin, a rhythm guitar player whom Hilt had taught, to join the SideKicks and later brought in Don Strausser as lead guitar.

Both of the “Dons” are vocalists with the band and both are prize-winning square dance callers in their own right. Hilt himself is recognized by the OldTyme Fiddlers’ Association of New York State.
If you would like to sign up for the masters’ class, call or e-mail Ginny Scheer at 607 326-7049 or The cost for each session is $5. They will be held at Hilt Kelly Hall, just around the corner from Roxbury Arts Group’s Old Bank Gallery at 53484 Main Street, Roxbury.

Don’t miss this chance to play music with traditional treasures of the Catskills!