This year the Genesee Country Village & Museum held their annual Yuletide Open House over three weekends in December, with full COVID precautions in place to ensure the safety of all in attendance. FOG was asked to play a series of 30-45 minute sets of traditional holiday music each weekend, consistent with the zeitgeist of the Village’s history. Musicians were limited to small groups, with either a trio or quartet playing at the Brooks Grove Church, and a duo playing at the Freight House Pub. Performers and audience were socially distanced and all required to wear masks. Despite the rules, the Open House was well attended and musicians and audience alike had a great time.
The volunteers musicians found the means and time to pull together set lists and rehearse over the Fall. Fortunately we were able to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather in October and November to rehearse outdoors or in garages where social distancing could be practiced. Christmas music is not part of FOG’s normal repertoire, but as the songs of the 18th to early 20th century had their roots in hymns and folk tunes of the time, they dovetailed nicely with our organization’s creed.
Below is an audio playlist recorded of some of the performances for your listening pleasure. Thank you again to all that volunteered and contributed
Rosie Newton and Richie Stearns held workshops at the VFW pavilion on August 15, 2020, a great setting and a lot of fun with such prominent musicians who thrive on being able to present to folks in person. They drove from Ithaca to provide us with some much-needed musical fun, and we were able to do this in a safe manner: outdoors, wearing masks, with a limited number of people, socially distanced. As Rosie explained, musicians live off the interaction with other folks, getting feedback in one form or another.
Due to Covid, most musicians have not had the opportunity to be with people vs. performing/ teaching online. At the workshops, both musicians broke a tune into phrases and taught participants how to play the tunes and then how to add enhancements to make the tunes more like fiddle tunes. Rosie taught special approaches for bowing, while Ritchie explained how, by playing by ear, one can find the melody notes on the fingerboard and fill them in with embellishments.
Richie taught two tunes by ear, phrase-by-phrase, with repetition, John Brown’sDream and You Ain’t Seen No Trouble. Rosie in her workshop taught Lonesome Girl. Many think teaching and learning by ear is THE way to go, and we were so proud of those in attendance for not being afraid to try. Traditionally this is the way fiddle tunes were passed on to others.
We hope to have Rosie and Ritchie back in the future for more fun and educational workshops hosted by the Fiddlers of the Genesee.
FOG players have gotten together a handful of times over the last few weeks to hold outdoor jam sessions at various members’ homes. Individuals are at least 6 feet apart from each other and wearing masks as often as possible. Below are a couple of short clips of how we sound.
The COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing guidelines have been difficult on us musicians who rely on being able to play with others in order to improve and take delight in our craft. There has never been a stretch of time in the history of the Fiddlers of the Genesee where we have gone so long without the comradery of jam sessions or the pleasure of entertaining others at gigs.
One of FOG’s own, B.J. Cunningham, has helped to lighten our hearts during this time through her regular distributions to our members entitled “Thinking of You” with sayings, quotes, and jokes that she collects. These clever musings tie together the timeless inspiration of music with the zeitgeist of these times. Below is a sampling for your enjoyment.
🎻 A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. – Leopold Stokowski
🎻 Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, except, possibly two. – Frederic Chopin
🎻 After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. – Aldous Hu
🎻 Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. – Maya Angelou, Gather Together in My Name
🎻 Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent. – Victor Hugo
🎻 One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. – Bob Marley
🎻 Without music life would be a mistake. – Friedrich Nietzsche
🎻 Music, a companion in pleasure, a remedy in sorrow. – Johannes Vermeer
🎻 The true beauty of music is that it connects people. It carries a message, and we, the musicians, are the messengers. – Roy Ayers
🎻 People ask me how I make music. I tell them I just step into it. It’s like stepping into a river and joining the flow. Every moment in the river has its own song. – Michael Jackson
~ Clever Quotes~
🎻 I love the way music inside a car makes you feel invisible; if you play the stereo at max volume, it’s almost like the other people can’t see into your vehicle. It tints your windows, somehow. – Chuck Klosterman
🎻 A gentleman is someone who can play the accordion, but doesn’t. – Tom Waits
🎻 Only become a musician if there is absolutely no other way you can make a living. – Kirke Mechem
🎻 Practicing social distancing guidelines, minimum safe distance between street musicians and the public:
Violinist: 25 feet
Bad violinist: 50 feet
Tone deaf guitar player who knows three chords: 75 feet
15-year-old electric guitar player with Nirvana fixation: 100 feet
Bagpiper: 50 miles
🎻 What happens if you play country music backwards? Your wife returns to you, your dog comes back to life, and you get out of prison.
🎻 What’s the difference between a violin and a fiddle? No one minds if you spill beer on a fiddle.
🎻 How do you make a million dollars playing a hammered dulcimer? Start with two million.
🎻 And for the FOG banjo players:
What did the banjo player get on his SAT exam? Drool!
Why do some people have an instant aversion to banjo players? It saves time in the long run!
Female five string banjoist shouting at her boyfriend in a crowded shopping mall: “Don’t forget sweetheart, I need a new G string!”
🎻 Three violin manufacturers have all done business for years on the same block in the small town of Cremona, Italy. After years of a peaceful co-existence, the Amati shop decided to put a sign in the window saying, “We make the best violins in Italy.” The Guarneri shop soon followed suit, and put a sign in their window proclaiming, “We make the best violins in the world.” Finally, the Stradivarius family put a sign out at their shop saying, “We make the best violins on the block.”
🎻 And now, a little “play on notes”…
C, E flat, and G go into a bar. The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve minors,” and E flat leaves. C and G have an open fifth between them and after a few drinks, G is out flat. F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough. D comes into the bar and heads straight for the bathroom saying, “Excuse me, I’ll just be a second.”
A comes into the bar, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor and sends him out. Then the bartender notices a B flat hiding at the end of the bar and shouts, “Get out now! You’re the seventh minor I’ve found in this bar tonight.”
The next night, E flat, not easily deflated, comes into the bar in a three piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender, who used to have a nice corporate job until his company downsized, says, “You’re looking pretty sharp tonight. Come on in. This could be a major development.” And in fact, E flat takes off his suit and everything else and stands there au natural. Eventually, C, who had passed out under the bar the night before, begins to sober up and realizes in horror that he’s under a rest.
So, C goes to trial, is convicted of contributing to the diminution of a minor and sentenced to ten years of DS without Coda at an upscale correctional facility. The conviction is overturned on appeal, however, and C is found innocent of any wrongdoing, even accidental, and all accusations to the contrary are bassless.
The bartender decides, however, that since he’s only had tenor so patrons, the soprano out in the bathroom and everything has become alto much treble, he needs a rest and closes the bar.
🎻 If you need 144 rolls of toilet paper for a 14 day quarantine you probably should’ve been seeing a doctor long before COVID-19.
🎻 I washed my hand so much due to COVID-19, that my exam notes from 1995 reappeared on my hands.
🎻 Our cleaning lady just called. She will be working from home and will send us instructions on what to do.
🎻 Home schooling going well. Two students suspended for fighting, one teacher fired for drinking on the job.
🎻 You thought dogs were hard to train? Look at all the humans that can’t sit and stay.
🎻 Dear Netflix, can you please turn off the, “are you still watching” feature? We are still watching, I don’t need this kind of judgment in this time of uncertainty. If you could please update it with a, “are you sure you want to eat that?” notice that would be much more helpful at this time. – boredpanda.com
🎻 Quarantine Diary
Day 1: I have stocked up on enough non-perishable food and supplies to last me for months, maybe years, so I can remain in isolation for as long as it takes to last out this pandemic.
Day 1 + 45 minutes: I am at the supermarket because I wanted a Twix.
Day 2 without sports: Found a young lady sitting on my couch yesterday. Apparently she’s my wife. She seems nice.
🎻 Song lyrics for quarantine:
“Don’t stand so close to me”…The Police
“You can’t touch this”…MC Hammer
“Dancin’ with myself”…Billy Idol
“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine”…R.E.M.
“My loneliness is killing me”…Britney Spears
“Bored in the house and I’m in the house bored”…Curtis Roach
That was a quote from an attendee who came to hear the Fiddlers of the Genesee play at the Chili Public Library on this bright, crisp Saturday afternoon.
It was “SRO” as an audience of all ages bobbed in their chairs and even sang along to an old favorite, You are My Sunshine. Other set list tunes included Ragtime Anne, Temperance Reel, Westfalia Waltz, and Cold Frosty Morning, with emcee Bob Hyder’s color commentary furnishing the historical and humorous background that helps makes FOG performances memorable.
The musicians enjoy sticking around after the performances to chat with the attendees and answer questions about the more unusual instruments. Some parents of children taking music lessons told us their kids loved the fun and “approachableness” of the performance. Others were interested to learn more about the weekly jam sessions and events such as the GCV&M Fiddler’s Fair. And the topper was being told that the performance was one of the HIGHEST attended events they have had at the library.
Check out our Gig Schedule page to see when the Fiddlers of the Genesee are performing next, and listen to playlists of past performances.
Between September and November of each year, the annual Fall for the Arts series at Bristol Valley Theater in Naples, NY features several talented performers, including the Fiddlers of the Genesee.
In addition to some core tunes like South, Swedish Walking Tune, and Barnburner’s Reel, FOG also performed tunes that haven’t been in set lists for a while, like Garryowen, Jefferson & Liberty, and Arkansas Traveler. Many of the tunes featured breaks that highlighted the contribution of unique sounds from the wide variety of instruments represented that day. One of those seldom-employed but always available instruments was our own voices, which was lent in song – along with the audience’s – to a medley of Circle Unbroken and Amazing Grace.
The performance ran over by over 20 minutes, but no one seemed to mind. One gentleman approached emcee Bill Kenyon afterwards and said he was hard of hearing but he FELT it and really enjoyed the performance!
Click to Hear BVT Tunes: 1. Swallowtail Jig 2. Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine/Bonaparte’s Treat
The Fiddlers of the Genesee kept up their annual tradition of playing at the Palmyra Canaltown Days Festival. It was a full accompaniment of fiddles, guitars, mandos, both types of dulcimers, and a bass to keep the tempo. The set list included St. Anne’s Reel, Dill Pickle Rag, and Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine, among others.
This year the Fiddlers of the Genesee was a sponsor of the annual Turtle Hill Folk Festival, held at the Rotary Sunshine Campus in Rush, NY. Presented by the Golden Link Folk Singing Society, this weekend-long event features concerts and workshops by top folk musicians, as well as singing, jamming, food, and fun.
Performers this year included Annie & the Hedonists, Heather Pierson Acoustic Trio, Richie & Rosie, Debra Cowen, Scott Cook, and the legendary Jay Ungar & Molly Mason, best known for the glorious Ashokan Farewell. Jay and Molly also presented various workshops, enthusiastically attended by FOG members
FOG set up a tent on the grounds which afforded festival attendees a venue for jamming with us. We were honored by the participation of Molly Mason both days. On Saturday she borrowed a FOG members’ guitar and returned with her own on Sunday for a full half hour of jamming. Peter Davis from Annie and the Hedonist also jammed along.
Thanks to the Golden Links Folk Singing Society and all the volunteers for making this a weekend to remember.
Saturday witnessed some of the worst weather ever experienced during a GCV&M Fiddler’s Fair, soaking most folks with continuous rain all day. But the musicians’ and audiences’ spirits were not dampened judging by the ongoing activities.
The FOG jam tent kept going through thunder and lighting, and the entertainment on the Barn stage was, as usual, superb and well received by the audience. Attendees even made the long walk over to the Church in heavy rains to see some really good musicians offering up true old time entertainment. Just like folks would have done decades ago.
Sunday dawned with more rain, which largely cleared up by the time activities got going. The GCV&M staff and musicians were ready and the audiences filled the venues. FOG delivered another great set, with the audience yelling for an encore.
What it is all about was summed up by a gentleman that approached one of our members following the performance…
“I am from Amherst [NY] and I want to tell you, the music I just heard made this trip worthwhile! You all brought JOY to all the folks here, and we could tell the group was having so much fun in playing for us”
What more can one say – isn’t that the reason for what we do?
On a hot sunny Saturday, the Macedon NY Public library sponsored the ERIE CANAL HERITAGE CONNECTIONS celebration at Lock 30 at Macedon Canal Park, a free event with music and fun activities related to life along the canal in the 1800s. Nothing helps set the mood for life in the 19th century quite like old-time fiddle music, so FOG was asked to provide musical entertainment by playing two different 45-minute sets in the late morning and early afternoon.
In addition to playing audience favorites like Soldier’s Joy, Swallowtail Jig, Buffalo Gals, and Old Joe Clark, FOG debuted Erie Canal and the ER-I-E, two new tunes in keeping with day’s theme. MC Bill Kenyon punctuated his usual entertaining commentary with interesting facts related to living and working on the Canal.
The highlight of the day was a surprise collab during the last set with drummers in full regalia from the Towpath Volunteers Fife and Drum Corps. They came over to play with FOG on Jefferson & Liberty, Garryowen, Liberty, and Under the Double Eagle – tunes in common between our respective repertoires. It was a fun time and we look forward to future performances hosted by Macedon Public Library.