Chirps Smith Is Our Next Guest

When I started the Fiddle Club of the World (Chicago Chapter) in the spring of 2008, our second featured guest was my old pal and band buddy, Lynn Chirps Smith from LaGrange, Wisconsin. (Of course, we all know he was raised in Charleston, Illinois and spent many years in Grayslake.) Fittingly, Chirps will be the second featured guest in the new incarnation of Fiddle Club in the back room of the Grafton Pub & Grill (4530 N. Lincoln) on Monday, December 10. Come join us at 8pm for a Set* and a Session.** We plan on doing this every 2nd Monday of the month.

Dec. 10, 8pm
Chirps Smith

Another guest the fiddle section of the storied Volo Bogtrotters. (Fred Campeau was last month’s guest.)

* A set of tunes, songs, and chat with a featured guest, followed by
** a jam session for all players.


***There will be a donation jar to compensate the Featured Guest.

Come join the fun. So many tunes still to play.

Like this one, from April 2008.

– Paul Tyler, convener, Chicago Chapter

Fiddlepalooza 2018: Fiddle Club Is Back

Fiddle Club of the World (Chicago Chapter)
presents a Fiddlepalooza
(* see below)
Tuesday, October 9, 7:30
Room # E324, Old Town School of Folk Music (4545 Lincoln)
Registration $25 (free for students registered in Tuesday night fiddle classes this session)

Learn traditional dance tunes from Austria from

Theresa Aigner – violin                Marie-Theres Stickler – button accordion
from Vienna and Upper Austria      from Salzburg, in Lower Austria

Both are members of Die Tanzgeiger (The Dance Fiddlers), a roots music band of long-standing from Vienna. The band’s leader, Rudi Pietsch visited a number of Old Town School fiddle classes over the course of a session in the Spring of 2010. He was also a featured artist at a Fiddle Club of the World meeting. A few years later, he and Marie-Theres poked their heads in Old Time Ensemble class and yodeled for us. Now we get to spend an evening with Marie-Theres and Theresa and learn a few traditional melodies from the Alps. This is a great chance for an up close experience with musicians who are passionate about the old-time music of their culture.

Note: Die Tanzgeiger will be part of the World Music Wednesday Concert on Oct. 10.

* This is Fiddle Club’s third Fiddlepalooza in which we partner with the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Tuesday night fiddle classes in bringing special guests to the students, while opening workshop participation to all who are interested. The first Fiddlepazalooza in 2010, which took place 2 days after Rudi Pietsch’s Fiddle Club visit, featured Paul Brown & the Mostly Mountain Boys from North Carolina along with the Polka Chicks from Finland. Our second Fiddlepalooza, in 2015, featured Mette Jensen & Kristian Bugge from Denmark. Both events were great fun. A memorable highlight was the 28 fiddlers in a circle on stage in the concert hall playing the tune just learned from Kristian.

More Fiddle Club Guests for 2017

Bayou Seco

aka Ken Keppeler & Jeanie McLerie

Fiddle Club of the World meeting (aka concert & jam session)

Friday, May 12 – Admission $20
Seman Violins (4447 Oakton in Skokie) 

Music starts at 7:30. Come for the concert. Stay and play and learn a tune or two. All instruments and all listeners welcome.

Ken & Jeanie bring loving attention to little known musical wonders of the Amermican Souths, from Cajun waltzes to Tohono O’odham polkas and Mexicano rancheros to Cowboy ballads and other folk songs. Go to this YouTube video to listen to their performance of a Fiddle Club favorite, Purple Lillies Polka

Spencer & Rains

aka Tricia & Howard

Thursday, June 22

Fiddle Club meeting with a concert & jam/workshop

Location to be announced

Featuring old-time tunes from Texas, the Central Plains, and other corners of America. Check out these videos for a great guitar-fiddle duet and some sublime twin fiddling. There are more videos on their website linked above.

More Fiddle Club Events
Friday, April 28: Barn Dance with the Fiddle Club of the World Orchestra
Paul Tyler will teach and call the figures at The Social
Old Town School of Folk Music (4545 Lincoln), 7:30, more info here

Wednesday, June 21: Fiddle Tunes Jam for Make Music Chicago
6 to 8pm in the Welles Park Gazebo. Like it on Facebook.

Fiddle Club Presents Cajun Music and a Cajun Dance

This Friday, February 17
Blake Miller with Amelia Biere & A.J. Srubas

Seman Violins (4447 W. Oakton in Skokie
Cajun music workshop at 6:30. Cajun Dance at 8pm

Admission to both the workshop and the dance is $20. $10 for just the dance.

Grandson of well known accordion builder Larry Miller, Blake Miller has been surrounded by Cajun music and culture his entire life. Hailing from the small town of Iota Louisiana, Blake, a fluent french speaker and songwriter, managed to acquire a degree in Francophone studier from The University Of Louisiana at Lafayette and in the mean time founded the popular young Cajun band The Pine Leaf Boys and became a member of the premiere Louisiana roots Band The Red Stick Ramblers. He has also served stints in just about every other cajun/creole band of note including Balfa Toujours, Les Malfecteurs and Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole bringing his strong cultural identity and accomplished musicianship to the world. Now plays with the world traveled Revelers for the past 4 years singing and playing his own songs on fiddle and accordion.

Originally from a small town in Wisconsin, Amelia Biere was exposed to many forms of traditional music at an early age. She grew up listening to her dad sing, play guitar, piano, and fiddle. Fate took her to Minneapolis for college, where there were regular Cajun dances. She got hooked! Mentored by a few of the stalwart musicians of the Twin City music scene, Amelia started learning French, playing and singing. Two bands resulted: Ana and the Bel-tones and Millie and the Mill City Heavyweights. In 2014, Amelia decided to move to the source of it all – Lafayette, LA. There she has been soaking it all in, ever expanding her love for the culture. In addition to playing Cajun music, she plays old-time guitar and loves to dance. When not playing music, she is a wedding florist.

AJ Srubas is originally from Green Bay, WI where he grew up playing Irish music in a family band. After graduating high school, he went to study fiddle in Ireland for a few months but upon returning home he was introduced to old-time music when his older brother started to learn claw hammer banjo. Before he knew it, he was completely hooked. AJ now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and has been playing old-time music for the last decade. He plays old-time fiddle in the Bootlicker Stringband and Cajun fiddle and pedal steel guitar in the New Riverside Ramblers. When not playing music, he is an apprentice violin bow maker and organizer for The Monday Night Square Dance and other Minnesota festivals. AJ teaches private lessons and has taught at the Central Rockies Old-time Music Association’s summer festival, Berkeley Old-time Music Gathering and many Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-time Music Association events.

Fiddle Club Guests for Fall 2016

Meetings held at Seman Violins (4447 W. Oakton, Skokie).
Admission is $20 at the door.

All meetings begin with a short concert followed by a jam/workshop.

Aallotar – Thursday, September 15, 7pm
Sarah Pajunen, of Minneapolis, and Tejia Niku, of Helsinki, make a hands-across-the-water Finnish duo that makes ‘exquisite, sophisticated chamber-folk music’ aimed to explore the differences and similarities of a culture separated by an ocean and the passage of time. Tejia was a Fiddle Club guest in June 2010 with Polka Chicks. Sarah was here with Kaivama and Arto Järvelä in March 2012.

Premo & Gustavsson – Sunday, October 23, 7:30pm
Premo-GustavssonWith fiddle, clawhammer banjo, nyckelharpa, and occasional bi-lingual vocals, the sound of Laurel Primo, from Michigan, and Anna Gustavsson, from Sweden, “is built off of the driving dance-based fiddle traditions from both countries, as well as the adventuresome musicality of 21st century musicians.”

Brandi Berry – Friday, November 18, 7:30pm
Brandi Berry is currently deep into Scottish music, especially from the musically fruitful and culturally vibrant 18th century. She also plays a mean baroque violin and a driving bluegrass fiddle. She is a director of the Bach & Beethoven Ensemble, and teaches at DePaul University and the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Come join us. It’ll be great.

-Paul Tyler, convener
Fiddle Club of the World (Chicago Chapter)

Tunes from Betse & Clarke

Betse & Clarke
Sunday June 19, 7:30pm
The Atlantic Bar and Grill (5062 N Lincoln Ave)

A concert, followed by a workshop/jam.
Admission is $15.

Fiddle Club is thrilled to present Midwestern duo Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt for a special evening of fiddle and banjo tunes. Betse & Clarke explore their love of old time music with an inventive spirit, taking listeners on a field trip across mountain folkways and new landscapes. Their music is familiar… and totally different; a fiddle and banjo duo with a sense of adventure, radiating outward from Kansas City, Missouri.Betse Ellis & Clarke Wyatt
Betse Ellis plays fiddle and sings like nobody’s business. Her years with The Wilders proved her passion for Ozark tunes and an unstoppable stage presence. Her early violin studies continue to shape her musicianship through technique and composition. Clarke Wyatt has an original and creative approach to three-finger banjo. His background as a pianist and composer inform his banjo method as much as his love for old time music.

Here is a tune to help you get ready for the workshop/jam in the back room at the Atlantic. More info:

Calico – learning at tempo

Calico – learning, slow

Calico – learning, fiddle slow

Calico – learning, banjo slow

Want to hear more? Go here.

– Judy Higgins, Fiddle Club associate

Big Fiddle Week Coming to Chicago

Lydom, Bugge & Høirup
Lydom, Bugge & Høirup
folk music from Denmark
Thursday, June 16 – 7:30pm
Seman Violins (4447 W. Oakton in Skokie)
Admission $18

Betse Ellis & Clarke Wyatt
Betse & Clarke
Traditional/Future Folk
Sunday, June 19 – 7:30pmg
Atlantic Bar & Grill (5062 Lincoln in Chicago)
Admission $15

Fiddle Tunes Jam
Fiddle Tunes Jam!
Make Music Chicago
Tuesday, June 21 – 6 to 8pm
Winnemac Park (Damen & Foster in Chicago)
free to all players and listeners, bring a chair

A Fiddle Club Fandango

Don Ricardo Ibarra
with family and friends
Friday, May 13, 7:30pm
Seman Violins (4447 W. Oakton in Skokie)
$15 admission

Don Ricardo Ibarra
This musical house party will be hosted by mis amigos, Juan Rivera and Pedro Gomez. They will introduce to Son Caletano. For Pedro and Don Ricardo, this is a deep-rooted family tradition. For Juan, it is the music of a neighboring region. (The video below was filmed at a party in Juan’s back yard in Cicero last summer.) Let this night be a party, and let us all be open to what can happen when musicians get together to play, and talk a bit, about the music they love. There will be playing and singing and, hopefully, a little dancing. Perhaps there will be a little teaching for those of us new to Son Caletano.

Some background from Juan Rivera:
Don Ricardo Ibarra was born in 1941 in Tiquicheo Michoacán, part of the “Hot Land’s” region (La Tierra Caliente). His Father, don Miguel Ibarra, was a very important fiddler in the region of the Son Calentano. He played with many important musicians of the region and was a contempory of don Juan Reynoso, known as the “Paganini de Tierra Caliente”. He taught his 4 sons to play the music since they were children and also his nephew Serafín Ibarra*. Don Ricardo Ibarra’s first instrument was the guitar and vihuela, but after his older brother Enrique died in 2005, he took up the fiddle again and started to play it since then with his brothers Miguel and Guadalupe and his cousin Ismael.

Here’s a link to an article en Español that Juan wrote for the Federation de Clubes Michoacana en Illinois.

*Serafin Ibarra has appeared on stage at the Old Town School of Folk Music several times. I took a workshop with him at the School’s Festival of Mexican Son in 2005.

-Paul Tyler, convener

Fiddle Club’s Ninth Year Begins

The Chicago Chapter of the Fiddle Club of the World is pleased to announce its ninth season of concerts and jams featuring guest artists representing fiddle traditions (and more) from all over the globe. The three meetings listed in this post will all be held at Seman Violins at 4447 W. Oakton in Skokie. Admission for each meeting is $15.

Tim Macdonald & Jeremy WardTim Macdonald & Jeremy Ward
Scottish tunes on fiddle and cello
Sunday, March 6 – 7:30pm

Harry Bolick

Harry Bolick
Mississippi fiddling
Friday, April 22 – 7:30pmg




Lydom, Bugge & Høirup
Lydom, Bugge & Høirup
folk music from Denmark
Thursday, June 16 – 7:30pm

Check back to this blog in coming weeks for recordings of tunes you can learn for the jam sessions to follow each concert. Fiddle Club is not just for fiddlers. Players of other instruments and listeners or all sorts are welcome.

More dates to remember: Bob Bovee & Pop Wagner, Fiddle Club guests in 2014, will be playing the Evanston Barn Dance on Friday, March 11 at the American Legion Hall (1030 Central St.) Actually, Pop will be calling the figures. Bob, joined by several of his local friends, will lead the band. And we hope to schedule a Fandango of music from Michoacan, Mexico some time in early May. TBA.

Recovering Old-Time Music

with the
BluEagle String Band
Friday, October 9, 7:30pm
Seman Violins
(4447 W. Oakton in Skokie)
A concert set, followed by an old-time jam.
Admission is $15.
BluEagle String Band
Dave Prine, Tyler Wilson, & Jim Chesney make up the BluEagle String Band, the most recent iteration of the Old Town School of Folk Music’s first in-house old-time string band, known variously as the Friends of Old Time Music and the Fleming Brown String Band (see below). But that was back in the 1960s.

In the 1970s, Tyler Wilson and Dave Prine performed in a duo known as the NRA. At that time, the band name was the acronym of the National Recovery Administration, a centerpiece of FDR’s New Deal. Just as the original NRA sought to bring renewed vigor to rural American life, Tyler & Dave’s NRA recovered the vigorous old-time string band music of the 1920s and ’30s for a new generation of listeners and players.

Fleming Brown String Band

Adding Jim Chesney on guitar and vocals, the group is back with same great old-time songs, and a new name, taken from the iconic logo of the Depression-era National Recovery Administration. They’ve just released their first ever album (see above), which will be available for purchase at their Fiddle Club appearance. They’ll start with a concert set. We’ll follow with a jam session of tunes and songs. Give a listen to some of the old favorites we’ll play together in back room of Seman Violins.

All Around the Mountain

Diggin’ on the New Railroad

Georgia Railroad

The Glendy Burk

Fiddle Club is not just for fiddlers. Banjo players and guitar players are also needed. We welcome anyone who wants to come and join us with any instrument. You can also come for to sing, or just to listen.

Up next at Fiddle Club of the World
Square Dance with Phil Jamison
& the Volo Bogtrotters

Sunday, November 8, 6:30pm
Kuhn Village Barn (at Fermilab in Batavia)