Festival of American Fiddle Tunes
Port Townsend, Washington, July 1 - July 8, 2001
By Ryan Thomson
The festival of American Fiddle Tunes has become so popular that a lottery system is in
place in case of the number of applicants exceeding the camp capacity. The class format
was similar to that described in a previous review. I felt right at home after arriving on
Sunday night, having had attended the camp since 1977.
Rather than staying with a particular instructor, I sampled several different classes
throughout the week, including Irish fiddle with Seamus Connolly, contra dance piano with
Mary Cay Brass, Cape Breton piano with Doug McPhee, and tango orchestra with Bertram
Levy. My goal this year was to do as much actual playing with other musicians as possible,
so I purposely skipped most concerts, and attended just a few classes. This strategy paid
off, as I was able to get many hours of playing in each day, and was usually able to locate
other compulsive players to make music with, even when the majority of the camp was off
to a concert in the auditorium.
I do recommend in general, however, that most attendees should attend the exceptional
concerts that the Fiddle Tunes staff produce, as these showcase some of the finest fiddlers
in the world today. I'm a full time player myself, though, and most of the time I'd
personally rather be making music, than sitting and watching other people make music. I
made exceptions to hear the concertising of virtuoso fiddler Juan Reynoso from Mexico,
and Cookie Segelstein's great Klezmer fiddling.There's also some awesome participatory
dancing at Fiddle Tunes, and so I managed to get in many hours of dancing to some of the
famous fiddle players, and thus avoided being a passive seated listener!
Highlights of the week for me included: Irish sessions, old timey jams, Scottish sessions
with the folks from Vancouver, Canada, late night contra and square dances, jogging on the
beach, hiking through the woods, eating wild blackberries(my annual pilgrimage), and
participating in the student concert.
In summary: a very good week for me, and a hearty recommendation to others
contemplating a week of fiddling and fiddling study.
For more information visit the Centrum web site
Written by Ryan Thomson, 2001