Fiddle Club of the World Orchestra

Will provide music for a Barn Dance at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Friday December 2, 2016. The dance runs from 7:30 to 9:30. Paul Tyler will be the caller.

For more info on The Social, click here, and scroll down a little.

The Orchestra will rehearse at our revived monthly jam at Gideon Welles (4500 Lincoln) on Sunday, November 20 at 7pm. Another rehearsal will be scheduled for the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.

If you want to be in the Fiddle Club Orchestra, you must know these tunes.
They can all be found on the pages linked above: First Tunes for Jams and More Tunes for James.
Big Betty *
Devil in the Hay Stack *
Golden Slippers *
Snouts and Ears of America *
Hast Schottische *
Storm *
Sullivan’s Polka/Britches Full of Stitches *
Walk Old Show, Heel Come A-Dragging *

Also, it is strongly urged that you learn these:
Vidar’s Vals *
Valse de Los Panos *
Tacco e Punta (aka Heel and Toe Polka or Pattycake Polka)
The Seven Step
Sekmannsril (Soldier’s Joy with a 3rd part)

* Notation can be found in the PDFs or JPEGs linked on First Tunes for Jams and More Tunes for James.

Big Fiddle Stuff in City of Big Shoulders

Leadway Jam Session       Big Shoulders Square Dance

Sunday, November 16:
Last jam session of the year at 7pm at the Leadway Bar & Grill (523 N. Damen).
(Click tune list above for running list of all 2014 jams.)

Friday, November 21 Big Shoulders Square Dance with White Mule.
8:30 Global Dance Party at the Old Town School of Folk Music (4545 N. Lincoln).
Hot fiddling by Genevieve Harrison Koester. Solid old-time backup by Smith Koester, Andy Gribble and Abby Ladin. Callin by Paul Tyler. Dancing by y’all. No experience necessary.
(Click photo above for more information. Tickets available here.)

Barn Dance Tonight

This event is the culmination of the apprenticeship grant that Judy Higgins and I received from the Illinois Arts Council.  We’ve met every week for the last half year to learn about 18 to 20 tunes. We’ve worked on building up speed and drive with the bow.  Judy’s playing has become way more danceable.  And we’re going to test that out tonight with a return to the Atlantic Bar & Grill for a old-time square dance in the back room.

The band, Judy and the Big Dogs, includes Steve Rosen, Chris Walz and yours truly. Eric Zorn will call – and teach – the figures.  Come on out at 7pm, fill the floor and square your sets. We’re gonna have a big time tonight.

Old -Time Square Dance with Bowhunter

Friday, May 9
Dancing from 8:30 to 11:00
Old Town School of Folk Music’s Global Dance Party
Szold Hall, 2nd floor of 4545 Lincoln (Chicago)

Music by Bowhunter, a band of young’ns from Kalamazoo and Lansing.
They’re millennials, and they’re good.
Calling by Paul Tyler, an old boomer geezer from Indiana
He guarantees a good time for all, even for those who’ve never square danced before.

Click here for more info or to reserve your spot.

Old-Time Square Dance, May 9

Old-Time Square Dance, May 9

Reels, Rants and Polkas

The next fiddle club meeting will be
Sunday, November 20 at 6:30p
Atlantic Bar & Grill (5062 Lincoln)

We’ll play a few English ceilidh (pronounced ‘kaylee’) tunes, which will be posted soon. And we’ll try them out with a couple of easy dances. Invite your friends and family to come along and dance. No admission fee. No registration required.

The story thus far. Long ago in a galaxy far away I started playing the fiddle and calling square dances, because I thought that was the most fun a group of people could have.

Al Smitley & Paul Tyler
Al Smitley & Paul Tyler re-enacting frontier life in 1836 Conner Prairie Pioneer Settlement, Noblesville, Indiana – 1981

Way back then, I had the glimmer of notion that the American square dance was just one type of set dance among many. Even then I knew the fiddle was the universal instrument. But over the next thirty years, I concentrated on playing for and calling American square dances, in part, because they were easy for folks to learn, and required only a walking step. No aspiring dancer had to learn to do anything special with his or her feet.

But in the meantime, in merry old England, a set dance revival was growing that attracted thousands of people young and old, and several dozen high energy dance bands to a scene called Barn Dancing. In the last ten years it’s also become known as Ceilidh dancing, borrowing a term for similar explosion of old time dancing in Scotland. The dances are for sets of 4 to 6 couples, or for lines for “as many as will,” or for circles made up of couples or groups of 3. The dances are all easy to learn and great fun to do.

And part of what makes English Ceilidhs such big fun, is that the dancers use a few special steps that bring them to a closer connection with the music. These steps are the setting step (for reels), the rant step, and the polka. We’re going to try them out at the next meeting.

Here’s some tunes. My current favorite reel is Beatrice Hill’s 3-Hand Reel. Click the title for a slow version I posted on the Old Town School’s Flog, and click this link for the notes. If you want to get inspired, listen to this live version from the Old Swan Band, the top-of-the-heap band for English ceilidh.


Another great, and easy, English reel that has been played in Old Town fiddle classes is Albert Farmer’s Bonfire Tune. And for the right feel for an English reel, take a look at this video of the Old Swan Band playing “Speed the Plough”. For the last figure each time through, the dancers do a simple polka step (and-a|1 & 2 and-a|1 & 2).

Another step from the old-time polka (also known as a schottische), is the step-hop, step
-hop (1 & 2 &|1 & 2 &). At an English Ceilidh, reels and polkas dance alike, as seen in this video of the Old Swan Band playing a couple of well-known polkas learned from Walter Bulwer of East Anglia.

Check back in a day or two for part 2 of this post. I’ll provide some sounds and video for the reel setting step and the rant step.

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

Fiddlers & Dancers

Our square and ceilidh dance is tonight.
All are welcome.
6:30-9:30, Atlantic Bar & Grill (5062 Lincoln)

Admission $5 for dancers

Fiddle Club members who want to run through some of the tunes once more should show up about 5 or 5:30. Many of the tunes we’ll play can be found here or here. Or click the blue links in the lists below.

Square Dance Tunes
Daylight in the Morning, Granny, Steppin’ in the Parlour, Streak o’ Lean, Sugar in the Gourd, Who’ll Cut the Britches

Ceilidh Dance Tunes
Fire on the Mountain, Roscoe, She Oughta Been a Lady (aka Twin Sisters), Ten Cents,

Couple Dance Tunes
Cuz Teahan’s Polka, Edward Ost’s Brude Polka, Hast Schottische, Koputus Polska, Raatiko, Seven Step, Tacco e Punta (aka Shortnin’ Bread), Victor’s Waltz,

A Ceilidh Dance is a community dance

Music by the Fiddle Club of the World (Chicago Chapter)
Calling by Paul Tyler

All dances will be taught. All are easy to learn and fun to do.

Besides some old-time squares we’ll do set or group dances like Cumberland Reel, La Cardeuse, Dashing White Sergeant, Heel-and-Toe Polka and Gay Gordson; plus couple dances including Seven Step, Raatikko and the schottische.