Old Town School East is now occupied

This was the vision, ten years in the making.

Dance tonight in E326!


Eagerly anticipated. Much hard work to keep the promise. And so it was written:
“Come join us on Sunday, January 15 at 6:30 for a Housewarming Dance for the new Lincoln Square East building of the Old Town School of Folk Music (4545 Lincoln). We’ll occupy one of the fabulous new dance studios. All dancers, players and callers are welcome to help warm up the floor.”
Dance tonight in E326!

(click a picture to enlarge)

January 15, 2012

80 folks came to play or dance or both. Thanks to our 4 great callers: Paul Collins, Lynn Garren, Tom Senior and Bill Sudkamp. 30 musicians played-never more than 20 at a time-including 1 banjo, 1 accordion, 3 mandolins and the rest evenly divided between fiddles and guitars.
Congrats, Old Town

Here’s our set list as I remember:
(D tunes)
Angeline the Baker
Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss
Soldier’s Joy
Walk Old Shoe Heel Come a-Draggin’
Twin Sisters
(G Tunes)
Indian Corn
Sail Away Ladies
(A Tunes)
Tippin’ Back the Corn
Liza Jane
Little Dutch Girl
(final waltz in D)
Tennessee Waltz



Photos by Gail Tyler, except the first and the last, which were taken by . . .

Paul Tyler, convener


More dances to come

The first Fiddle Club of the World Square & Ceilidh Dance was a roaring success, with about two dozen dancers in attendance at the Atlantic Bar & Grill. The back room was surprisingly cool on such a hot night.
Cyndy & Mitzi
Cyndy & Mitzi

Music was supplied by a rehearsed Ceilidh Band of 4 fiddlers, 3 guitarists, a harmonica player and a jaranero. Two other fiddle players sat in and learned the tunes on the spot (for the most part).

Judy & Walter
Judy & Walter

Here’s what we danced.
Squares: Chase the Rabbit, Star for Three, & a big circle square from the Deep South.
Ceilidhs: Cumberland Reel, Tacco e Punta, Gay Gordons, & Dashing White Sergeant.
Rounds: Seven Step, a schottische, Raatikko, & 2 waltzes

Paul Tyler calling a square dance
Calling a square dance

Thanks to Jason McInnes for the photos. There are also a couple of videos on the Fiddle Club of the World Facebook page.

Plans are afoot to coordinate the First Friday Square Dances with Fiddle Club. That means our next dance will be Friday, September 2, from 7 to 9:30 at the Old Town School. We’ll also schedule one for the December meeting at the Atlantic.

Paul Tyler, convener
Chicago Chapter

Chicago is Fiddle World

Truly. What a few days we had at the beginning of June.

Rudi Pietsch from Vienna gave an intimate concert, joined by his friend Jürgen Schempp, from Swabia (that’s in Germany) on guitar. Your humble convener was quickly trained for second fiddle. For the proper Austrian style we lacked a kontra (chorded fiddle or viola) and a bowed bass. Here is a slow yodel followed by a fast dance tune.

Meraner Jodler-Ischler Schläunige


Two days later, the Mostly Mountain Boys and the Polka Chicks dropped in for two evenings at the Old Town School. On Tuesday night they did a workshop for several fiddle class and the Fiddle Club.

The Mostly Mountain Boys (Paul Brown-fiddle, Teri McMurray-banjo and John Schwab-guitar) hail from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Washington DC. They started out with a twisty but fine version of “Fisher’s Hornpipe” they learned from Esker Hutchins of Dobson, North Carolina.

Fisher’s Hornpipe


The Polka Chicks, from Helsinki (that’s in Suomi, aka Finland), are Kukka Lehto on fiddle and Tejia Niku on accordion. They started with song of poverty and sadness. The singer’s life is so sad that his parents don’t even care if he marries a girl in America.

unnamed song from northern Finland


Following this lovely introduction, Paul Brown taught us distinctive version of Sugar in the Gourd that he learned from Norman Edmonds of Hillsville, Virginia. And Kukka Lehto worked us through the haunting major and minor turns of Viktors Vals from Ostrobothnia, an area in western Finland with an especially rich fiddle tradition.

The following night, both the Mostly Mountain Boys and the Polka Chicks were on the stage in our concert hall for World Music Wednesday. A delightful performance.

Polka Chicks
Kukka Lehto & Teija Niku

One morsel more. One of the oldest folk dance tunes from Austria, a ländler that was written down in 1702. Rudi plays a setting that imitates the dudelsack (German for bagpipes). Here’s an example of a Czech dudelsack, and another view from Austria.

My father’s day gift to all who are the child of a dad.
Paul Tyler, convenver

Report on Dan Gellert’s visit to the Fiddle Club

Over 30 fiddlers, pickers and fans showed up at the Leadway Bar & Gallery on North Damon on a Saturday night to hear Dan Gellert. After serenading us with a dozen wonderful old fiddle and banjo tunes, Dan and Debbie led a jam session for the next hour through a number of old chestnuts and few rare treasures.

Genna, Lynn, Miles & Janet

Here’s a few of the tunes Dan played in the Leadway’s back room.

Scott No 2
A tune from Missouri fiddler, Vee Latty.

Lonesome John
On a low-strung, gut-string banjo.

Candy Girl
A classic cross-tune piece in A learned from Uncle Bunt Stephens of Tennessee.

Dan Gellert

The Fiddle Club of the World is not just for fiddlers. Players of all kinds are welcome to participate. And it’s okay to come just to listen.

Deb & Genna

Huapango Nights

Our special meeting on July 20 featured a presentation and workshop on Son Huasteco, the traditional music of the Huasteco region of Mexico. Son Huasteco includes three types: danzas, sones de carnival and huapangos. The first two are associated with the fiestas and ceremonies of the indigeous people. Some have singing, others are instrumentals. Huapangos are played for social dancing (fandangos) among the mestizos, and feature both sung verses and instrumental solos. Our featured guest, Felipe Valle demonstrated the improvisation and ornamentation used by Son Huasteco fiddlers.

El Caballito, a carnival song.

Felipe Valle
Felipe Valle

Felipe was joined by Juan Rivera of Sones de Mexico, and Irekani Ferreyra and Anabel Tapia of Tarima Son. (By the way, Tarima Son won first place in the Fiddle Band division of the Midwest Fiddle Championship at the Chicago Folk & Roots festival earlier in July.) Juan and Irekani both played fiddle with Anabel on jarana. Felipe often plays with a haupanguera strapped to his back, so he can quickly change between strumming the chords and bowing the fiddle. The deep voice of the huapanguera is prominent in this sample of the conjunto sound of Son Huasteco.

La Polla Pinta, a huapango

Anabel, Felipe, Irekani & Juan

The typical line-up for a Son Huasteco trio is fiddle, jarana huasteca and huapanguera. The jarana, an 8 eight-string instrument with 5 courses (a bigger version of the ukulele), is also common in Son Jarocho and other regional styles of Mexican folk music. Here, the jarana section was augmented by the late-arriving Juan Dies of Sones de Mexico.

La Xochipitzahuatl, a danza

Felipe & Juan
Felipe & Juan Rivera

Fiddle Club members had a chance to learn and play four or five pieces from the Son Huasteco tradition.

Juan & Paul
Juan & Paul

Thanks to Debi Lewis and Pete Janotta for the photos.

An announcement of the Fall 2008 season of the Fiddle Club will be forthcoming in the next month. Stay tuned.

Paul Tyler, convener

Report on April 08 meeting

Lynn “Chirps” Smith was our featured guest, playing a variety of old time dance tunes native to the Midwestern United States.

Chirps cut his old-time teeth during his college days in Charleston, Illinois, where he played with the Indian Creek Delta Boys. More importantly, following the lead of fiddler Garry Harrison, the “Crik Delters” recorded and learned tunes from scores of senior fiddlers in the southern and eastern reaches of the Prairie State. Several of these tunes showed up in Chirps’ performance at the Leadway Bar & Gallery.

Ten Cents
Joe Wingerter tune
Stella’s Jig
Gallatin Special

He started his set off with a version of “Paddy on the Turnpike,” which may owe something to Harvey “Pappy” Taylor of Effingham. But then again, it may have been closer to the “Paddy on the Handcar” recorded in 1928 by Texas fiddler A.L. “Red” Steeley.

For the last several decades, Chirps has lived in the Chicago area. For much of that time, he played with the Volo Bogtrotters an old-time string band named after a natural feature located a short hop away from Chirps’ home in Grayslake. Representing that period of his life are tunes he learned first-hand from elders elsewhere in the Midwest, including Les “Red” Raber from Michigan, Nile Wilson from Missouri, Dwight “Red” Lamb from Iowa, and Lotus Dickey from Indiana.

Ten Strike
Old Reunion
Old Ladies Pickin’ Chickens
Sweet Bundy

Other pieces he played were learned from lesser known recordings of Nebraska fiddler Bob Walters, and a favorite piece of the Native and Métis fiddlers from Central provinces of Canada.

Bob Walter’s Hornpipe
Red River Jig

Finally, we must note that Chirps is now a resident of Wisconsin. Thus he performed a piece learned from a recording of Leonard Finseth of Mondovi, and a waltz from Madison-area concertinist (I believe he calls a bandoneon), Bruce Bollerud.

Stegen Waltz
Leonard Finseth’s Polka

Around 30 musicians enjoyed the performance and the jam that followed. We played all six of the tunes posted earlier on this blog. Plus a bunch more. A request was made for “Ten Strike,” the Les Raber quadrille piece, to be posted here. The tune is, in fact, the melody to be played for the 4th figure of the Ten Strike quadrille, as printed in Gems of the Ballroom (compiled circa 1890 by Geo. B. McCosh of Dekalb, Illinois). Les learned the tune from the book, which he had just acquired in 1981 when I brought him to perform at the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering in Battle Ground. Here’s the the tune as played by Chirps. It’s in C.

Ten Strike
[audio  http://drdosido.net/fiddleclub/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/ten-strike1.mp3]

The next Fiddle Club of the World meeting is coming up soon, on Saturday, May 10. It will feature the Cajun team of Will & Holly Whedbee.

Paul Tyler, convener

Report on Paddy Jone's visit to the Fiddle Club

The Leadway Bar & Gallery was full of fiddlers last Friday night, for the first meeting of the Fiddle Club of the World. About 30 musicians showed up. Most had a fiddle and a bow. I counted one guitar and one banjo. And a handful of folks showed up just to listen.

I got there right at 7:30, and several Fiddle Club members pitched in right away to help set up our small p.a. and arrange the Leadway’s long, narrow party room for listening and playing. (Some eating was going on as well. The Leadway has a kitchen, and Frank, the owner–he’s also a fine sculptor–had set out several trays of veggies and dip for us.)

The music started about 8 pm, as we all played a few tunes together. Since the Fiddle Club members come from various musical walks of life, I thought it valuable to talk about what people expect from a session. Old-time players jump on a tune and ride it till it finds its groove and finishes the course. You might play one tune through a dozen times. At Irish sessions, a tune is usually played two or three times through, and strung together with several others in a medley. Someone or most everyone knows what tune comes next. Bluegrass sessions start by establishing a rotation of lead breaks, and pass the tune around from one player to the next. The Fiddle Club of the World has no established set of rules, but seeks to allow players to stretch boundaries and extend horizons to experience more of what fiddling can do for the world.

Leadway back room on March 14

Paddy Jones, a truly delightful man and musician, got started about 8:30. He was artfully accompanied by Jesse Langen, who arrived just in time after a gig with the proprietor of Chief O’Neill’s pub. Paddy’s playing was strong, sensitive and rhythmic. He enthralled the room.

(I was very pleased with the acoustics and atmosphere of the Leadway. Paddy could be easily and clearly heard. We used just a bit of p.a. reinforcement, but it may not have been necessary. The front bar room filled up as Paddy played, but the noise from that side never caused a problem. It’s a good room. It would work better if we could move the tables out of the way.)

After close to an hour of concertizing, Paddy was ready for a break. He said he was used to having a singer step up with an occasional song, so he could rest his bow arm for a few moments. We’ll keep that in mind for future meetings.

Then it was time for everyone to play a session with Paddy and each other. A few young players could hardly wait to play through the tunes we’ve had posted on this website. Paddy asked if anybody had any questions. There was a suggestion that he demonstrate how to ornament. Paddy put on his teacher’s hat and led everybody through a demonstration of grace notes, bowing rhythms, and the essentials of playing for dancers. (We’ll post some samples of his “lessons” in a few days.)

Jonas in Leadway back room on March 14

Everybody got to play. We went through the tunes posted ahead of Paddy’s visit–the Kerry Polkas, the Kerry Slides, and the unnamed reel that is, in fact, The Galtee Rangers. Jessica Zeigler and her students from Old Town School Irish fiddle classes led us through some standard Irish session tunes. We ended sometime after 11 pm.

Thanks to all who attended, participated, and helped. A special thanks to Tim Joyce and Colby Maddox from the Old Town School, and to Frank and the Leadway Bar & Gallery,

See you April 20.

Paul Tyler, Convener