And the winners are

9th Midwest Fiddle Champions

Open Division
Los Pichardo – 1st place *

Can I Get an Amen – 2nd
3rd Sunday String Band – 3rd
Kit Paulson – 4th
The Lopsiders – 5th

Youth/Family Division
The Fiddle Billies – 1st place
The Tuning Pegs – 2nd
Destiny Diaz & Friends – 3rd
Shumm Family – 4th

Over $1500 in prizes awarded at the end of a lovely week-long contest.

* Yahvi Pichardo identifies the winning numbers as “Son Guerrerence & Pajarillo (huapango arribeño)”


Fiddle Team Finalists for 2011

Finals, 12:30 July 7, Folk & Roots main stage
Top prize is $400. Over $1500 in prize money!

Don’t miss these bands!
Fabulous photos by Paul Doughty

Can I Get an Amen
Can I Get an Amen
John Lane & Danny Gillespie
Kit Paulson


Kit Paulson

accompanied by James Kreigsmann and David Stockman



Los Pichardo



Los Pichardo
Yahvi, Victor, Gabriella & Zacbe Pichardo


The Third Sunday String Band
Angela Moss & Janet Lettrich Hamling, Rich Kurowski & Sandy Bykowski
The Lopsiders
Debi Lewis, Jim Meegan, Deborah Fausch & Shane Jones

Plus the top two from the Youth/Family Division will battle for the top prize – $150
The Fiddle Billies
from Music House
The Tuning Pegs
from the Old Town School’s kids fiddle program

– Paul Tyler, convener

Two big events for July

9th Midwest Fiddle Championship
Open Division 1st Round & Youth/Family Division Finals
Thursday, July 7 at 7pm in the concert hall
Old Town School of Folk Music (4544 Lincoln)
Admission is free

Square & Ceilidh Dance
Sunday, July 17 at 6:30-9:30pm
Atlantic Bar & Grill (5062 Lincoln)
Music by the Fiddle Club of the World
Calling by Paul Tyler
No partner or experience needed.
All dances will be taught.
Admission $5 for dancers

Square & Ceilidh Dance

(click to enlarge, then print and disseminate please)

Thank you.
Paul Tyler, convener

Midwest Fiddle Champs for 2010, part 2

Our 8th annual contest was held back in July. Part 1 of this post highlighted the 4 winning bands in the Open Division contest held on the 8th in Giddings Plaza. Part 2 will show videos shot on July 10th from the stage as four bands competed in the Invitational Division at the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival.

While the judges consulted on the final order, we had performances by 1st place winner’s in the Open Division — the Rachel Baiman Band — and the Youth Division — Maddy & the Hillions

In reverse order, here are the top 4 prize winners in the Invitational Division.

4th Place – Moravska Cimbalovka (Moravian Cymbalom Band), led by Andrew Tokarz
Their first tune was a traditional Moravian folk song.

3th Place – Paulina Hollers, Elizabeth Lamberti & Jim Becker & Kristen Bern, fiddles, &amp with Lea Tschilds on guitar & Clayton Brown on bass. They brought along the Chicago Prairie Cloggers, led by Rebecca Unger.
They followed up with “Back-Step Cindy.”

2nd Place – Stil Hua, Kristen Bern on fiddle, with Kevin Carey on flute, Siobhan Wojcik on bouzouki & Andrew Serb on bodhran. Rory Ward was their dancer.
Their second tune was a medley of an air and a reel.

1st Place – Cajun Vagabonds, Dorian Gehring-fiddle with Stewart Gehring-guitar, Eli Leki-Albano-bass & Monica Vachon-triangle. They brought two dancing couples from the Chicago Associate Chapter of the Cajun French Music Association.
Their second tune was “Lacassine Special”, a two-step. The dancers really got it going.

Midwest Fiddle Champs for 2010, part 1

Our 8th annual contest was held back in July, with the Open Division on Thursday the 8th in Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square and the Invitational Division on the main stage on the 10th at the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival. The Open Division attracted 12 fiddlers with their bands, including . . .
Kolleen Blume with Walter’s Dream
Bill Bodle with the Wild Onion String Band
Caroline Fernald with the Bell Flowers
Claire Halpin with the CH4
Ted Johnson & Elise Dalleska
Lynn Malnekoff with Innisfree
Chris Marshall & friends
Miles Mibeck with Siobhan Wojcik & Megan McKeon
Kit Paulson with James Kreigsmann & David Stokman

The evening also featured performances by the three top prize winners at the Youth Division competition held in June:
3rd Place – Ethan Matlin with Last Minute Deal
2nd Place – Abigail Burrus & Sean Mythen with Sarah Mythen
1st Place – Maddy & the Hillions, Max & Anna Hill, fiddles & Maddy Tyler, guitar

In reverse order, here are the top 4 prize winners in the Open Division.

4th Place – Twin Sisters, that is Debi Lewis on fiddle with Deborah Fausch on banjo
They started off with “Oak Ridge Stomp.”

3th Place – Chirish, Maggie Danaher & Kristen Bern, fiddles, & Andrew Serb, guitar
(It was too dark to film in the plaza when this group played, so all we have is an audio recording.)
They played a medley of “The Gentle Maiden” and “Tommy People’s Reel.”

2nd Place – Po’ River Boys, Dan Gillespie on fiddle, with Jeff Yonkis on fiddle & washtub bass & Evan Collins on banjo
Their first tune was “Black-Eyed Susie.” Later, in a playoff, they played “Gospel Plow.”

1st Place – Second String, Rachel Baiman & Eva Walsh, fiddles with Greg Reish on guitar and Ethan Philion on bass
They started with “Oh My Little Darling,” and performed “Red Rocking Chair” for the playoff.

Part 2 will feature videos of the four bands that competed in the Invitational Division at Folk & Roots.

Presenting 8th Midwest Fiddle Championship

The Fiddle Club of the World is proud to present the 8th annual Midwest Fiddle Championship, with two divisions meeting in two venues. To start the fun off right, we’re returning to Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square on Thursday, July 8 at 7:00pm for the Open Divisions. This Folk & Roots Festival preview is sponsored by the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce. At least a dozen fiddlers and fiddle bands have registered to compete. We’ll also hear from the top three youth bands who competed in June.

Midwest Fiddle Championship flyer
(click to enlarge)

And Here is the lineup for the Invitational Division that will take place on the main stage at the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival at 12:55pm, Saturday July 19. Each band is led by a fiddler and is required to bring along dancers to help demonstrate how good the fiddler plays.

Stil Nua, an Irish band featuring Kristen Bern of Palos Heights. Accompanied by flute, guitar and bodhran. Playing for step-dancer Rory Ward.

Kristen Bern & Andrew Serb
(click to enlarge)
Dorian Gehring
(click to enlarge)

The Cajun Vagabonds featuring fiddler Dorian Gehring of Chicago. Accompanied by guitar, bass and triangle. The dancers will do a waltz and two-step.

The Paulina Hollers, an old-time band featuring fiddler Elizabeth Lamberti and banjoist Jim Becker (both are Old Town School teachers). Accompanied by guitar & bass. The dancers are the Chicago Prairie Clogging Team, led by Rebecca Unger, back for their second appearance at Folk & Roots.

Moravska Cimbalovka, a Moravian village band led by Andrew Tokarz. The lineup includes fiddle, kontra (a chording fiddle), cimbalom (a large hammer dulcimer), clarinet & bass. They will be bringing along some Moravian folk dancers.

Also the first place winners from the Youth Division and Open Divisions will perform on the main stage while the judges reach a consensus. The prize money is award accordingly . . .

First Prize        – $400
Second Prize   – $300
Third Prize      – $200
Fourth & Fifth Prize     –   $150 each

Enjoy the friendly competition and the great music.
Paul Tyler, convener
Fiddle Club of the World (Chicago Chapter)

8th Midwest Fiddle Championship

The Kid’s Contest is in the books. It was a competition for fiddle-led bands held on June 16 at the Old Town School’s beloved Armitage building. The First Place ribbon (and prize money of $150) was taken by the Hillions and Maddy.

[And proud papa suggests you also check out the band that won fifth place.]

The Open Division (called Team Division in the past) is back this year, scheduled for Thursday July 8 at 7 pm in Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square. (Just a two-block walk up Lincoln from the School). It’s part of the Folk & Roots Festival preview sponsored by the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce.

All fiddlers are welcome to enter. It is highly recommended that you enter with a band of one or two accompanimists. Click here for more information (rules, prizes &c.).

An online entry form should appear soon at the above link. Or try this one that can be printed out and faxed or dropped off.

And again, the invitational Fiddle Band division will be held at the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival on Saturday, July 10 at 12:55 on the main stage in Welles Park. The top winners from the Kid’s Contest and the Open Division will also be there to play a tune.

The Midwest Fiddle Championship is presented by the Fiddle Club of the World (Chicago Chapter).
Paul Tyler, convener

And the winners are . . .

From the 7th Midwest Fiddle Championship
Presented by the Fiddle Club of the World
On the main stage at the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival

1st place was awarded to Los Pichardos, a family band from Chicago and Oak Park, with Victor Pichardo on vihuela, his sons Yahvi on guitarra de golpe and Zacbe on arpa grande, and daughter Gabriela on fiddle. The lead fiddler is Juan Rivera, a native of the Tierra Caliente in the state of Michoacan, home of the style of music known as Son Planeco. The dancers were Serafin Guevara and his daughter, Andrea.

2nd Place went to Dr. Hojka’s Medicine Show with the Chicago Prairie Cloggers. The band featured Jordan Wankoff (of the Old Town School fiddle faculty) and Michelle Steinman on fiddles and Walter Hojka (also an Old Town School fiddle instructor) on keyboards. The Chicago Prairie Cloggers were organized for the occasion by Dr. Rebecca Unger from regulars at the Monday night dance sponsored by the Chicago Barn Dance Company.

3rd Place went to the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society. The three young fiddlers in the band included Itzaki Metropoulos, who took 1st in the Youth Division of our fiddle championship just a couple of years ago. The band also included a santur (hammered dulcimer) and a duf (a frame drum).

Here are links to more videos of the contest, all shot from the point of view of the emcee, who was on the stage. The sound is not so good. But it’s a great place to watch.

1st Los Pichardos

2nd Dr. Hojka’s Medicine Show

3rd Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society

4th Anne Hatfield (of the Hatfield Sisters) & friends

5th The Fiddler & the Hoofer (Rick Veras & Reggio McLaughlin)

What talent we have in our city.
Paul Tyler, convener

Meeting June 15th & Announcements

Let’s play our tunes together!
Sunday, June 15, 6:30-9:30
Leadway Bar and Gallery 5233 N. Damen, Chicago

It’s free. Just let me know you’re coming. (

Announcing the 6th Midwest Fiddle Championship.

Click the above link for rules and information about the Youth and Fiddle Team contests scheduled for 7 pm, Thursday, July 10th at Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square. An online entry form will soon be linked to the information page. For more, contact me at

Youth and Fiddle Team winners will perform on the Main Stage of the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival 2008 at 12:55 pm, Sunday, July 13th in Welles Park.

Added this year is a division for Fiddle Bands with Dancers. Five specially invited fiddle bands will compete on the main stage. Immediately following, three of the bands will proceed to the Dance Tent so every one can dance to their music. There will be a brief instruction period before each band plays.