Folk & Roots 2009 is a Fiddle Fest!

You’ve been there. You know that the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival is always a wealth of great music from all around the world. (If you haven’t yet been, we’ve missed you. Come on down to Welles Park the weekend of July 11-12.) So many great fiddlers will be there this year we could rename it the Folk & Roots Fiddle Fest.

It’s coming up next weekend: July 11 & 12. Here’s the basic info and a full schedule. What follows are some of the highlights of special interest to fiddlers and friends. There’s a lot of stuff here. I’m sure you’ll find something that moves you . . .

First up, on Thursday July 9, is a preview of Folk & Roots in Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square. For the past 6 years this has been the invitational round of the Midwest Fiddle Championship, with the finals scheduled for the Festival’s main stage. This year the preview will feature music from the dance tent: polkas, waltzes and square dancing. Everyone is invited to dance. All the dances are easy.  There will be instruction for the square dances. Music starts at 7 pm. The last waltz is at 9:30.

Dr Hojkas Medicine Show
Dr. Hojka’s Medicine Show
Fantastic Toe Trippers Orchestra
Fantastic Toe Trippers Orchestra
(click for another view)

Don’t miss this! Two special workshops are scheduled for 7 pm Friday evening, July 10 with Dan and Rayna Gellert. Dan was a guest at a Fiddle Club of the World meeting last March. He’ll be doing a workshop on old-time banjo (clawhammer). The workshop is titled “Drum on a Stick.” Register for it here.

Here’s Dan playing Lonesome John on a low-strung, gut-string banjo.


Or you could do “Old-Time Fiddle with Rayna” (she’s Dan’s daughter). Register here.

Here’s Rayna playing Winder Slide, a favorite with the Old Time Ensemble classes a few years back. You’ll want to get all the tunes on her wonderful first CD, The Ways of the World”


Saturday (July 11) is the big day. It all starts with the 7th annual Midwest Fiddle Championship at 12:55 on the main stage. This year’s contest, presented by the Fiddle Club of the World (Chicago Chapter), is an invitational for five bands. Each band will be led by one or more fiddlers, and each band must also bring along one or more dancers. The bands will compete for $1,200 in prize money.

The full list of competing fiddlers is on the home page of the Folk & Roots website.

Los Pichardos with Juan Rivera
Los Pichardos with Juan Rivera
(click for another view)
The Hatfield Sisters
(click for another view)

There’s more. Here are the fiddle-istic highlights for the Main Stage and Dance Tent.

Main Stage
Saturday, July 11th
• 2:45 Dan & Rayna Gellert [old-time banjo and fiddle]
• 4:00 Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole [Cajun]
• 5:25 Caleb Klauder Country Band [with fiddler Sammy Lind from Foghorn]

Dance Tent
Saturday, July 11th
• 6:30p | Square Dance! Open Band
Sunday, July 12th
• 1:00p | Waltz Across Chicago!

For the Square Dance!, Walter Hoijka will lead a mass open band, with Paul Tyler and Lynn Garren sharing the calling. Some special guests will join the open band.

Waltz Across Chicago will feature instruction for the waltz, polka, and hora. Music will be provide by three bands: The Fantastic Toe Trippers Orchestra, an American/Mexican/Baltic polka band, The Alte Schteibeles (The Old Schoolers), the School’s Klezmer Ensemble led by Jon Spiegel and Stu Rosenberg; and Simbolo Norteño, a neighborhood conjunto. Have a listen to a couple of the bands in rehearsal:

The Toe Trippers the Venezuelan classic Sombra en Los Medanos.


Simbolo Norteño plays a polka.


There’s still more! More fiddles and fiddle-friendly music can be heard on the Staff Stage and in the open jam sessions in the Welles Park Gazebo. Highlights include, but are not limited to, the following . . .

Staff Stage
Saturday, July 11th
• 4:00 WAZO County Warblers (Paul Tyler)
Sunday, July 12th
• 2:30 Lanialoha
• 3:00 Light, Sweet & Crude (Bau Graves)
• 3:30 Rosenpalooza (Steve Rosen)
• 4:30 The Barehand Jug Band (Jonas Friddle)

Welles Park Gazebo
Saturday, July 11th
• 12:00 Old Time Jam with Dan & Rayna Gellert
• 4:00 Fandango with Raul Fernandez – Nuestra Música
Sunday, July 12th
• 12:00 Family String Jam with Maria McCullough
• 1:00 Woody Guthrie Folk Jam with Mark Dvorak
• 2:00 Bluegrass Jam with Colby Maddox

Wow! What a fiddle-packed weekend to look forward to. Plus there’s lots of other great music as well. Don’t forget to check out the Nuestra Música stage and the Kids Tent

Let us know what you what you liked the most. Any surprises? Any tunes you heard you want to learn? See you there.

Paul Tyler, Convener
Fiddle Club of the World, Chicago Chapter

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