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

Tunes from the Polka Chicks

A selection of tunes from the Polka Chicks, from Finland. Along with the Mostly Mountain Boys, they will participate in the Fiddlepalooza at the Old Town School on Tuesday, June 8 at 8pm. The next day, June 9, both groups will be on stage for World Music Wednesday at 8:30.

Press the arrows to listen or right-click the blue title to download and save on your computer.

“. . . a polska and a waltz, which are both traditional tunes from Swedish-speaking areas in Finland. The tunes are called ‘Bromarvin polska’ (Polska from Bromarv, situated on a cape by the southern coast of Finland) and ‘Viktors Vals’ (from a small village called Jeppo in Ostrobothnia, Finnish west coast).”

Bromarv polska

Bromarv polska slow

Viktors vals

Viktor vals slow

” . . . a traditional polka played by a horn orchestra from Hattula, a county in Häme-region which is situated kind of in the southern-middle Finland. The tune is called ‘Ampumakoulun polkka’ which means ‘Shooting school polka’.”

Ampumakoulun polkka

Ampumakoulun polkka slow

Click here from some workshop tunes from Paul Brown & the Mostly Mountain Boys.

Click here to register for Fiddlepalooza. (Steve Rosen’s Fiddle 3 and Paul Tyler’s Fiddle 4 students for this session are already registered.)

Fiddlepalooza – Tueday, June 8

Tuesday, June 8, 8pm at the Old Town School
Two bands from two traditions of old-time music – Finnish and American – the evening will be part workshop, part visit, and part jam session. Members of Steve Rosen’s Fiddle 3 and Paul Tyler’s Fiddle 4 will attend Fiddlepalooza in lieu of their regular class. All fiddlers, banjoists, mandolinists, guitarists, accordionists and friends of old-time music are welcome. Check back with this blog for some tunes to learn for the jam session.
Click here to register for Fiddlepalooza.
Polka Chicks
The Polka Chicks, from Helsinki, Suomi (Finland)
Their American tour features the duo of Kukka Lehto (fiddle & mandolin) and Teija Niku (accordions).

Polka Chicks, hear here . . .



Mostly Mountain Boys
The Mostly Mountain Boys, from Washington, DC (USA)
Paul Brown (you hear him on NPR newscasts) plays fiddle; Terri McMurray is on banjo; and John Schwab is the guitarist.

Hear Paul Brown at the U of Chicago folk festival, 2008

Battle of the Horseshoe

Lady of the Lake

Click one of the following links to listen to and learn some tunes from the Polka Chicks and from the Mostly Mountain Boys.

The Polka Chicks and the Mostly Mountain Boys will share the bill on June 9 at the Old Town School’s World Music Wednesdays. Click here for more info or to reserve tickets.