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.

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

Austrian tunes with Rudi Pietsch

Join us for a friendly concert and session on June 6 at 7:30 pm.
NOTE: This Fiddle Club meeting has been moved to the Old Town School of Folk Music (4544 Lincoln). We will meet in the Gallery on the 1st floor. The cafe may be open for beer sales. BYOB is also a possibility.

For the last few weeks, the Old Town School has been graced with a visitor from Vienna, Austria. Rudi Pietsch is an ethnomusicologist who is spending a quarter teaching at the University of Chicago and researching music in the communities of Central European immigrants in Chicago and the Midwest. In his spare time, he’s come by the School to learn a few American tunes. He also dropped in on Fiddle 4 Twin Fiddle class.
Maria McCullough & Rudi Pietsch

a yodel played on the fiddle in three voices

To hear all three voices, you’ll have to bring your fiddle and join in. Here’s Rudi singing one voice and playing another on fiddle.
yodel with fiddle

And here’s the same melody played as a ländler, a dance in 3.
yodel as a ländler

Here’s a polka, Der Einfache . . .
Der Einfache voice 1

add voice 2 (oops, the trio is missing)

Der Einfache played by Fiddle 4 class with Rudi Pietsch on piano

Der Einfache
(click to enlarge)

And a Zwiebacher, Die Bacherlmuhl, a dance mixing 2s and 3s.

(click to enlarge)

Traditional Fiddling from Austria

A free meeting – Sunday, June 6
time and location to be announced

Rudi Pietsch of the band Die Tanzgeiger (the Dance Fiddlers) from Vienna

Rudi Pietsch
Rudi Pietsch (on left)

Rudi, a fiddler and ethnomusicologist, is currently a visiting professor at the University of Chicago. The Old Town School has assisted his endeavors in Chicago, and in return, he wants to introduce us to a rich tradition of fiddling we know little about. Here are some samples from Die Tanzgeiger.