Jun 11, 2008 Staff Writer Uncategorized
Clemens Tradition bandleader Jackie Hobbs.
Sammy-winning fiddler Diamond Joe Davoli.
Fiddlin’ in the forest
Diamond Joe Davoli sparkles at this weekend’s 20th annual old-time music bash at Baltimore Woods
By Russ Tarby
From the high lonesome keening of Appalachian ballads to high-spirited two-steps to lowdown blues and bluegrass, the sound of fiddles will ring out at Baltimore Woods from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday June 14. Admission is free.
The Cultural Resources Council, the Centers for Nature Education at Baltimore Woods and the New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers’ Association present the 20th annual Old-Time Fiddlin’ at Baltimore Woods, 4007 Bishop Hill Road in Marcellus; 673-1350.
Saturday’s fiddle fest begins with Clemens Tradition, a quartet from Tug Hill named after the longtime New York State Ladies’ Fiddle Champion, Alice Clemens, who was the featured fiddler at the first Fiddlin’ at Baltimore Woods program. Alice’s granddaughter, Jackie Hobbs, now carries on the family’s fiddling tradition.
“Traditional fiddling is a centerpiece of Fiddlin’ at Baltimore Woods,” said CRC folklorist Dan Ward. “The program provides a wonderful opportunity for fiddlers and other musicians of all styles and ages to meet and share their favorite tunes.”
After its opening set, Clemens Tradition will accompany guest fiddlers during an open mike at 1:30 p.m., but the jam session will pause at 2:30 p.m. for a half-hour performance by Syracuse Area Music Award-winning fiddler Diamond Joe Davoli.
After Davoli’s set, the open mike will continue followed by a fiddle finale at 4:30 p.m.
Though Davoli can play everything from classical to jazz, old-time fiddling remains close to his heart. After studying at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, Davoli now performs across the Northeast with Delaney Brothers Bluegrass and the Flyin’ Column among other groups.
Diamond in the rough
A couple years back, Davoli released his debut solo disc, “Game Plan,” which demonstrates the breadth of his talent on tunes ranging from the Bob Wills’ ballad “Faded Love” to the 1907 pop tune “Redwing,” from the bluegrass of Bill Monroe’s “Wheel Hoss” to the traditional Scots reel, “Hop High Ladies.”
While the fiddle is his main instrument, Davoli also plays mandolin on five of the record’s 14 tracks. The disc showcases “Waltz for Darbie,” an original 3/4-time tune which Davoli dedicated to his wife.
In 2001, Davoli won a Sammy for Best Bluegrass Instrumentalist, and six years later he and guitar player Harvey Nusbaum took home a Sammy for Best Folk and Acoustic Recording of 2006 for their eclectic disc, “Fiddle & Guitar.”
Those who attend Saturday’s shindig should bring a blanket or lawn chair. In case of rain, the program will be staged in the nearby John Weeks Interpretive Center.
All fiddlers will have a chance at the microphone, and plenty of parking lot pickin’ is expected.
What is old-time fiddling?
Old-time music is a form of North American folk music with roots in the traditional tunes of many countries, notably England, Scotland and Ireland.
Developed along with folk dances such as the square dance, old-time music is played on acoustic instruments, usually a combination of fiddle and plucked-string instruments, most often the guitar or banjo.
While the most prominent old-time musicians — such as Uncle Dave Macon, Fiddlin’ John Carson and Gid Tanner — hailed from the South, New York state boasts a strong old-time tradition dating back to the early 20th century when performers such as John McDermott and Lyle Miles played for dances along with groups like the Hornellsville Hill-Billies and Woodhull’s Old-Tyme Masters.
More recently, the old-time torch has been carried by performers such as the Salmon River Boys from Pulaski, Phoenix fiddler George Harriger Sr. and North Syracuse’s own Hal Casey, a New York state champion fiddler many times over.
“In our Upstate N.Y. area, old-time is predominantly the playing of old jigs, reels and various other traditional-style dance tunes on a violin or fiddle,” explains Keith Hunt, a member of the New York State Old-Tyme Fiddlers’ Association. “These tunes are mostly remnants of dance tunes brought to this country by early settlers from the British Isles. The music naturally migrated westward as settlers from New England took up residence in the Empire State.”
More recently, with the influence of radio, TV, recordings and increased upward mobility, some tunes from other traditions stretching from the Canadian-Scots’ Cape Breton sound to Louisiana Cajun to Western Swing to Northwestern Scandinavian have crept into the genre, “but it’s still principally descended from the music of the British Isles,” Hunt said.
The Old-Tyme Fiddlers’ Association was established 37 years ago to preserve, perpetuate and promote the art. The organization stages an annual Fiddlers’ Picnic at the North American Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame and Museum, complete with a performance pavilion and a campground. The Hall of Fame is located at 1121 Commins Road, about six miles east of Redfield, nestled in the picturesque Tug Hill plateau.
This year’s Fiddler Picnic weekend is scheduled for July 24-27 and will showcase Donald Woodcock and Hal Casey. On Aug. 9 and 10 this year, an expanded Kids Kamp will present workshops for fiddlers and other young instrumentalists. Lake Brantingham fiddler Laura Dennis will perform from 2 to 5 p.m. Aug. 10.
For association information, visit http://www.nysotfa.homestead.com/.