2016-10-17 / Front Page

Fiddlers raise the roof in Bellows Falls

Musicians association holds first southern Vermont meet
By TORY JONES BONENFANT

Performers on Sunday included, from left, Tom Barry of Milton on mandolin; Lee Deyette of Randolph on guitar; and David and Janice Carr of Bakersfield on fiddle and keyboard. — TORY JONES BONENFANTPerformers on Sunday included, from left, Tom Barry of Milton on mandolin; Lee Deyette of Randolph on guitar; and David and Janice Carr of Bakersfield on fiddle and keyboard. — TORY JONES BONENFANTBELLOWS FALLS — Fiddle music brought people out of their seats and onto the dance floor at the Northeast Fiddlers Association (NEFA) “fiddle meet” on Sunday, Oct. 16 at the Moose Lodge.

“We like the people, and we like coming out. It’s a good time,” said Janice Carr, a keyboardist from Bakersfield who attended the jam session with her husband David Carr.

The couple is in their 70s, and David Carr has played the fiddle for more than 40 years, she said. He is originally from Bellows Falls and attended first grade there. The Carrs traveled three hours to take part in the meet, and before going in, they traveled around town, looking at all of his childhood landmarks, she said.

NEFA is a group of fiddlers, music-lovers and other musicians who have held meets, usually in northern Vermont, for more than 50 years to dance and socialize. The group, with an annual membership of $12, has held its monthly meet on the first Sunday of every month in northern Vermont towns.

Holding the meet in southern Vermont, namely Bellows Falls, was intended to increase awareness and membership, according to a press release from the organization. Fiddler Jill Newton of Saxtons River helped bring the meet to interested local musicians in the Bellows Falls area, Janice Carr said.

About nine local musicians took part in the Bellows Falls meet, with about 10 fiddlers taking part in all. About 40 people were at the Moose Lodge on Sunday, including friends, spouses, keyboard and guitar players, dancers and some just sitting to enjoy the music.

The event kicked off with about nine fiddlers in the center of the Moose Lodge dance floor. They then took turns taking the stage and performing several tunes, some returning for a second round.

Dancers and cloggers took to the floor for the lively sessions. Dancers included Maxine Young of Tunbridge, Vermont, who said she is a “precision clogger” and the group’s treasurer, and Mary Anne Boyce, whose husband Adam Boyce is a fiddler and caller, of Westminster.

Among the songs performed were gentle, lilting tunes from fiddlers accompanied by guitar and mandolin, and foot-stomping, energetic compositions.

Newton, along with Laurie Indenbaum of Athens, performed a “ganglat,” a Swedish walking tune based on the Scandinavian tradition in which people would walk accompanied by a fiddler. The two musicians have been playing together for more than 40 years, Newton said.

Terry Gulick of Springfield came out to see the musicians perform on Sunday. Gulick said that when he was about 22 years old, he was a piano player while a student at the University of New Hampshire. He was at a square dance one day and saw a fiddler from Durham, New Hampshire performing on the stage.

“I wanted so much to accompany him,” he said.

He went to that fiddler’s mobile home and asked if he could accompany him and where they could practice, and the fiddler said “right here,” he recalled.

Gulick said the fiddler had his music on a sheet of cardboard, taped up over a small keyboard, and that is where they practiced together. He began serving as the musical accompaniment for the fiddler, and has kept playing alongside fiddlers for decades, he said.

Membership sign-ups were available on Sunday, but non-members are welcome to attend and participate in meets. Fiddlers and other instrumentalists generally sign up on a numbered list upon arrival, between noon and 1 p.m., at which time the moderator calls upon musicians from the list to take the stage and perform three tunes. Those musicians can play solo or invite others to join them on stage.

Fiddle meets are an opportunity for fiddlers and musicians to meet other new fiddlers, hear different playing styles, learn new tunes and socialize.

The fiddlers’ meets are free and open to the public. The next meet is scheduled for the first Sunday in November in Morrisville, Vermont.

For more information about the meets, visit the NEFA Facebook page.


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