President’s Remarks

Contributed by Tom Bailey

fourth of July three starsThanks to every one of you who came out to Make Music Rochester on June 21st. We gathered in the park across the street from Bernunzio’s Uptown Music. We were a small but enthusiastic group, one of over 5100 music sites internationally this year, the largest program ever for the Make Music event. Mark June 21st on your calendar –Summer Solstice — for next year’s event.

On June 21 FOG members celebrated the Summer Solstice and Int’l Make Music day. Mark your calendars to join the fun next year!

We have been talking about the Erie Canal Heritage Connection at Genesee Country Village Museum on July 27th for quite some time now. The purpose of the gathering is to discover and explore life in the 1800’s along the Erie Canal.  The days events will include lifestyle presentations; the Towpath Drum and Bugle Corps; wagon tours; Macedon Historical Society displays; Rochester English Country Dancers performing period dances; Historic Houses; butter making; period food and drink; old fashioned toys; an 1816 museum and … the Fiddlers of the Genesee will be playing twice! It is a real honor for FOG to be included in this event. After the less than acceptable gig at the Library on June 15th, I was almost surprised they would still have FOG participate. We need everyone available to come out and join in. This could be the most important event we have ever played for in recent memory, so we need your help.

After the problems at the Macedon Library gig on the 15th  — an out of tune fiddle, less than enthusiastic starts, and it seemed we could not agree on endings as they were all over the place — we are going to try something different. This is not a change in bylaws, just something we want to try. Anyone wanting to play a gig MUST be signed up two weeks before the scheduled entertainment date. The set list will be determined three weeks before the gig and WILL NOT be changed after the two-week date. We think changing things on the set list the Friday before the event added to a lot of the confusion at the Library; that won’t happen again. Please look at Ron’s workshop write-up in this newsletter. It ends with a list of things to do to make sure one is ready for the gig. We have to take the paying gigs seriously; the folks paying us have a choice of who they want to have come play. Obviously, we would like it to be FOG and we owe it to the folks paying us to play the best we possibly can.

FOG playing at Macedon Library on June 15. All members are encouraged to sign up to play at future gigs.

We are still getting requests to come play this summer, one in July and two in September. I don’t see how FOG can do the July date but we would like to do the September events. We will send out an email blast as soon as the dates are set. Don’t forget the July 20 gig at the Friendly Home. This was a good gig last year and I am sure this year will be the same. We are using the Mumford Set List #1 for both play times at the Friendly Home. By the way, we are still trying to work up Welcome Whiskey Back Again; it has a catchy syncopation that we are stumbling around with. Come on out and help us play it!

One final thought: We had such a good response with selling FOG caps last year that this year we have embroidered denim visors available for purchase.  They turned out very nicely.

Hey Rich! Just to let you know we are thinking you. Hang in there and come join when you can. Or we might have to come join you!

Until next time, Play Nice!

FOG Tune of the Month: Blackberry Blossom (Tune Fix)

Contributed by Deb Abell

Click HERE for Sheet Music

FOG Music Update

As voted on at the general meeting in December, there will be no more new tunes for 2019, as it was felt that four new tunes per year are plenty. But if there is a significant fix of a current tune needed, please let Deb know. Deb will be stepping down from providing music for FOG at the end of 2020. She is happy to help train a successor between now and then, so please contact Deb at debabell66@gmail.com if you’re interested.

Making a Tune Your Own

Contributed by Debbie Baldwin

At Michelle’s recent “Making a Tune Your Own” workshop, I learned steps to take that would allow me to be creative and add my unique style to a tune.

  • Break the tune down to its most simplistic state
  • Then add double-stops from the chords (phrases in the music) to be in the same key
  • Play a variety by playing double-stops at two different octaves
  • Play the song in its simplest form then progress by adding the other ideas and may be even a change in rhythm or emphasis to specific notes using the bow

I look forward to finding my own style and experimenting.  A source that would be Teaching Book Cover smallhelpful to fiddlers would be the book Learn to Fiddle by Hope Grietzer, which is an introduction to basic fiddling techniques using material from Bluegrass, Irish, Scottish, Old-time, and French Canadian styles.  I have attended one of her workshops in the past and I plan to give more attention to her book.  There are two accompanying CD’s, so you can hear what she is explaining, which include some tunes familiar to FOG.  Also, there are numerous practice ideas in the back half of the book: scales and arpeggios in each chord, that explain the notes in the various keys to know what notes a fiddler can harmonize with.  When a chord is written on the page, the fiddler must play two notes that go with what the guitarist is playing. One cannot just select any two notes they think harmonizes.  There are also bowing/shuffle exercises that I need to learn, and dexterity exercises, drone, fourth finger, and dynamic exercises.

I have found that being involved in various musical groups has resulted in an expansion of knowledge, but to improve my playing requires time set aside to learn from a book like this because I have it at hand, can see the notes and read explanations, and hear on the CD what is being taught and refer to it again and again. I highly recommend this book, because I know it will help me.

Mandolin Workshop Summary

contributed by Ron Perry, Certified Wernick Method Teacher

This is a summary of what I covered during the Mandolin Workshop held on June 19. I also added a few “Author’s Notes”.

99009Instrument, Picks and Straps

  • Use a very heavy pick to get the most volume.
  • Your strap controls the angle at which your pick hits the strings.
  • Your forearm should be approximately parallel to the fingerboard to keep the pick parallel to the strings. Your volume is thus maximized.
  • Whether it’s over your shoulder or around your neck, the strap will have an effect on your volume, your pick angle and your comfort
  • Experiment with the length of the strap
  • Dirt and corrosion rob your strings of life!  Wipe down your fingerboard and strings with a rag moistened with WD-40 after you’re done playing, which will keep your strings clean, brightly colored and crisp sounding, free of corrosion caused by sweat.
  • Strings die. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly without you noticing. Professionals change strings frequently, sometimes daily. Consider changing your strings as often as every week, but never more than a month, depending on how many hours you’ve played.


  • Rhythm keeps the fiddlers in line. They need all the help they can get…they have a fiddle blasting in one ear. Good strong rhythm should be filling their other ear!  Play loudly!
  • The bass controls the entire ensemble! The bass should be considered to be the common metronome of the players! Listen to it, feel it. Don’t ignore it, and don’t vary from the timing governed by the bass!
  • A mandolin “chop”: Play the bass note loudly and audibly on the downbeat, followed by a muted chord on the backbeat.
  • Whether you play audible chords or chop the chord, use a fluid wrist.
  • When outnumbered by melody-playing fiddles, reinforce the rhythm.
  • When the rhythm instruments outnumber the fiddles, decide whether playing the melody on the mandolin enhances or detracts from the music.
  • Respect the judgment of the Music Director, for the sake of the entire club, especially when rehearsing for performance.

Song Introductions

Strange as it sounds, some players do not realize the kick-off should be played at the same time/meter as the song to be played. (Author’s note: Strange but true…I’ve witnessed this too many times with too many players in too many informal groups, clubs and jams. Messy results!) 

  • All the musicians will gauge their timing by the speed of the kick-off.
  • The Kick-Off should be a minimum of one full measure, two whole measures maximum.
  • Just like a “count-down”, a Walk-Up or Walk-Down establishes the song timing/meter
  • The Walk-up or Walk-down notes lead right into the first chord (Ex: A, B, C# notes up to the “D”-chord)

The mandolin can be used to kick-off the tune with: 99124

  • Saw (imitating a fiddle-saw)
  • Turnaround (last line of the verse or chorus)
  • Must be played very loudly!

Solos or “Breaks”

This is a musical feature based on either the “melody” or the “chorus”. Know your fingerboard so you can improvise!

(Author’s Note: A “solo” is one featured instrument/musician; a “break” can be played by more than one musician simultaneously or shared in segments).

  • The Music Director should be responsible for deciding whether a break should be included, who plays it and for how long.
  • Whether played by one musician or a whole section, the break must be rehearsed!


Any tune can benefit from enhancements played by individual musicians. They are particularly effective when played within a Break/Solo.

Embellishments include:

  • Improvisation
  • Double-Stops
  • Cross-Picking
  • Tremolo
  • Slides (up to or down to the melody note)
  • Run (a portion of a scale ending at a chord)
  • Scales

My boss, Dr. Pete Wernick, the banjo player of the legendary Bluegrass band Hot Rize and creator of the Wernick Method stresses:

“Always be in tune. Be on time. Be on the correct chord. Be ready. Anything less risks a ‘train-wreck’ that can result in catastrophic embarrassment and emotional devastation to all involved.” He goes on, “Be rehearsed but sound spontaneous.”

As an organization with a lengthy reputation for solid, old-time fiddle music, FOG should take his recommendations seriously. We never know who’s listening … could mean our next paying gig!

Playing with Others

Contributed by Jane Reetz

IMG_2133 2
Michelle Younger

Michelle Younger’s Playing with Othersworkshop, held June 22, got off to a rocky start as instructor and attendees gathered on the sidewalk outside a locked storefront at BayTowne Plaza, where the workshop was to be held. After a few phone calls were made, it was decided to relocate the workshop to an empty tent on the BayTowne property, where a farmers market is held each Wednesday and where a Cruise Night takes place each Thursday. Michelle offered the following key points intended to optimize performance when playing in a group.

  • Rhythm is most important – play but also listen!
  • When playing in a performance, listen to the bass.  The bass keeps everyone together.  However, if the group speeds up, you have to keep together  — so the bass will speed up too.
  • Practice slowly using a metronome, which will show your weak spots. Play along with recordings, such as midi files, to help develop rhythm and tempo.
  • When playing in a group, be open to constructive criticism and offer only constructivecriticism.
  • Be self-reflective after a performance.
The Playing with Others workshop was held in a tent on the BayTowne Plaza property.
  • Use eye contact during a performance for communication with your fellow players.
  • Pay attention to cues from fellow players.
  • At jams, if it’s a new tune, listen to it first to determine the key.  Become familiar with guitar chord shapes to help you make chord changes.
  • Don’t expect to play every note.
  • Listen to a lot of a particular type of music to get it in your head.  You will learn starts, breaks, embellishments, endings, etc.


by Susan Cady-White, Editor

Me, Brian Webster and Joe Dady in 2018 at the Fiddlers Picnic held the first Saturday of each August on Conesus Lake. Joe opened the day’s performances with a program that showcased his students playing on stage with him.

As many of you know, Joe Dady passed away on May 18 following a stem cell transplant to treat leukemia that was diagnosed last fall. As the Dady Brothers, Joe and his brother John entertained the Rochester region and beyond for well over 40 years. Joe was my fiddle teacher and he was a dear friend. I was a very green beginner when I started lessons with Joe almost six years ago. Joe thought it very cool and fitting that I became the editor of the Fiddletter, and I know the best way for me to honor his memory is to keep on fiddlin’!



President’s Remarks

Contributed by Tom Bailey

Here’s hoping everyone had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Looks like we have made it to warmer weather but I am seriously looking at waterproof instruments! There are some great sounding fiddles, mandos and guitars out there made of carbon fiber – 100% waterproof! Guess we gotta have something to complain about with the weather …

The first workshop with Ron Perry will have taken place by the time you read this. Based on his lesson plan, it was likely a great one. Eighteen have signed up for the June 8th “Making a Tune Your Own” workshop with Michelle. We are working on a date between the 8th and 22nd for Ron’s second workshop since Ron and Nancy will be out of town for a week beginning the 21st. There are 10 signed up for Ron’s “Starts and Breaks” and at least 12 for Michelle’s “Playing with Others” on the 22nd. It was unfortunate that we had to cancel the Clawhammer workshop, but there were only four confirmed attendees. It wasn’t fair to Michelle, but it would have been a big hit on the FOG coffers to host a workshop with so few attendees. There are now at least nine interested in a Clawhammer workshop, so we are trying to figure out another date for that one. If Michelle isn’t available, there are a couple other really good clawhammer specialists in town. Details should be confirmed soon.

We need you to sign up to play at the Macedon Public Library on June 15th. We played there last year and the audience was great – so appreciative. Please sign up if you are going to be in town. After that we will play two sessions at the Friendly Home on July 20th. These are paying gigs, so it’s a chance to refill our bank account! Please see the other upcoming events on the list included elsewhere in the newsletter.

Want to do something really different for a Monday night? Join us on a Traditional Fiddle Music/Bluegrass Cruise of the Erie Canal on the Colonial Belle out of Fairport on June 17th. We play in Macedon on the 15th and then get together with roughly 60 other folks for a cruise the following Monday. Folks will board the Colonial Belle at 6:30 and leave the dock at 7:00 pm for a 2-hr+ cruise. The Cruisers (not break-neck speed players) will be on the upper deck while the Moonshiners (all out crazy folks) will be in the main cabin. And for those who just want to relax and not worry about playing, PLEASE come on out. Cost is $22, which includes pizza. That’s more fun and less cost than a regular 2-hour cruise! Bernunzio’s sponsors the event, so PLEASE give them a call if you are interested: 585-473-6410. They need a list so they know how much pizza to buy and so names can be checked off at boarding. They don’t want to leave someone standing at the dock!

Please see the summer set lists below. Printable PDF’s of the Set Lists can be found at the end of the newsletter. There are two lists, based on the two days at Mumford. Set List #1 is for Saturday and Set List #2 is for Sunday. There is a slight problem: in the past we have had 45-minute time slots, which was the basis for these set lists. I just found out that this year we have only 30-minute time slots, so we have to remove around 4 tunes from each list. I need to explain the color codes here: Black is obvious; Blue is for the tunes that are on both set lists; the Red at the bottom are some possible tunes to add to the list for one of our normal 1-hour gigs. A new tune has been added, FOG’s Tune of the Month for June, Welcome Whiskey Back Again. There is a new tune we snuck in on everyone. Deb is working out the details but we have included the basic tune in the newsletter. Heads up– we will use Set List #1 for Macedon Library!

Macedon Library
Mumford Set List #1 – Saturday 
Click on image below to download
Mumford Set List #2 – Sunday
Click on image below to download

If you want a chance to get to become better friends with your instrument(s), there are some super workshops coming up that might help. Want to get to know the FOG members a bit better? Join in one of the many scheduled events and gigs. Click here to see the upcoming gigs Fiddlers of the Genesee – gig list 5-25-19

2019 Event Schedule as of 24 May 2019

June 2019

  • 15th – Macedon Public Library – 2:00 pm
  • 17th – Erie Canal Cruise  – 6:30 pm

July 2019

  • 20th – Friendly Home , Brighton – TBD   2 sessions, paid gig
  • 27th – Macedon Erie Canal Celebration  – 11:45 am & 1:00 pm

August 2019

  • 17th & 18th – Mumford Fiddlers Fair – 2:15 pm Saturday & Sunday
    Jam tent 10:00 am – 4:00 pm both days
  • 31st – Little Theatre – “FIDDLIN” documentary 3:00 pm
    FOG can play after showing in the Little Café

September 2019

  • 5th – VA Hospital, Canandaigua – 5:00 pm
  • 7th – Turtle Hill Folk Festival/Golden Link
    Jam tent, no performance
  • 15th – Palmyra Canaltown Days  – time TBD

October 2019

  • 13th – Bristol Theatre, Naples – 2:00 pm

Find some time to enjoy the music, the camaraderie and above all – Play Nice!

FOG Tune of the Month:
Welcome Whiskey Back Again

Contributed by Deb Abell and Tom Bailey

When the English Parliament lifted the ban on Barley in the late 1800’s, the author of Farewell to Whiskey wrote this tune to welcome the change.

Click HERE to download pdf of sheet music

FOG Spring Picnic Fun!

Contributed by Jane Reetz

Following on the success of our Fall FOG picnics, this year we added a Spring Fling which took place on May 5th.
A lot of members attended with their families and friends. It offered a great opportunity to jam, socialize, and eat (and eat some more). There were several great breakout sessions where members got a chance to shine and show off their many musical talents.


President’s Remarks

Contributed by Tom Bailey

Greetings FOGgers! I don’t know about you, but for me it is a welcome change to be driving to work with the sun rising. Feels like the start of a new day, although more days have been cloudy than sunny! Thanks to all who came to our “business meeting” on April 5th. Mike Deniz did a great job of presenting the new website.  The site is easy to use and includes everything the Board asked Mike to cover. Mike sent the link to all members; have you looked at it yet? Very few comments have been received but the Board does want your input before we go “live” with this website. Barring additional input from the membership, the new site will become the official FOG website around the end of May. Maybe we should have a party for taking down the old website?

If you’ve read the past couple Fiddleletters you know we have the FOG Spring Picnic coming up May 5th at the Ellison Park Pavilion Lodge, located in the northwest corner of the park. The information is in this edition of the Fiddleletter as well. I hope you can join us, as there will plenty of food, music and camaraderie beginning at 2:00.  We don’t have to be out until 8:00, if anyone is so inclined to stay until closing. Great weather is forecasted, so we can play on the patio.

Please see the latest listing of upcoming events. These have been discussed in this column before, with the exception of the June 27 event. On June 27th Bernunzio’s Uptown Music is sponsoring a 2-hour cruise on the Erie Canal aboard the Colonial Belle, sailing out of Fairport. This has been a bluegrass cruise in the past but we are adding fiddle music to the cruise this year. We will probably have the fiddles on the upper deck and the bluegrass folks in the cabin. Nothing to say we can’t intermix, since a lot of the music at bluegrass jams is fiddle music. Maybe you would like to play some bluegrass? Please pass the word to everyone you know. Usually about half the people on the cruise don’t play the music, they just like to listen and watch the wildlife (including other folks) on the banks as we go gliding by. In the past we have boarded around 5:30 for a departing time around 6:00. We will have more info in an email blast around mid-May.

Many of you have been asking about the set lists for this summer. There will actually be two: one for Saturday and one for Sunday at Mumford. During the course of playing our summer gigs we will add several tunes to either list to make up a 1 hour set list. Mumford is roughly 40 minutes playing time each day.  The set lists will be handed out this Friday at the jam session. There will be a short discussion to review the lists and get your input. After that the set lists will be emailed out to all members. Come see the different tunes on this year’s list.

Don’t forget that FOG is holding a series of workshops that will be taught by Michelle Younger. Originally it consisted of 3 workshops, each building on the previous one. They were:

        • May 18 – Clawhammer Banjo (beginner/intermediate)
        • June 8 – How to make a tune your own:  Introduction to variation and improvisation in old-time music (all levels, all instruments)
        • June 22 – Playing with other people and learning tunes on the fly (all levels, all instruments)

We have added a fourth one, a Mandolin Workshop with none other than Ron Perry. It will be held on Wednesday May 29th. The Saturday workshops will start at 2:00 pm and will cost $5 for members and $12 for non-members. There will be a big discount for attending two workshops and an even larger one for attending all three Saturday workshops. There will be no charge for the Wednesday evening Mandolin workshop, which will start at 6:30.  An email will be sent with details on the workshops, which will be held in a storefront at Bay Towne Plaza.

Hope to see you at the picnic!

FOG Tune of the Month: Lonesome Moonlight Waltz

Contributed by Deb Abell

Listen here to the Lonesome Moonlight Waltz Click here for a printable PDF of Lonesome Moonlight Waltz


Susan Cady-White, editor

At this time last year I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of May 1, the opening of online registration for FiddleStar Adult Beginner Fiddle Camp, which I had I learned of while reading Strings magazine. The camp is held at the Ridgetop, Tennessee home of Megan and Adam Chowning. With a maximum of 15 students and the ability to lodge on site in one of two bunk rooms, the camp sounded perfect for me and I was thrilled to land a spot on the roster. Camp was held in September and my husband and I decided to hit Nashville together for a few days before I went off to camp. On our first morning, we walked to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. When we arrived at the Hall, bluegrass musicians – including an amazing fiddle player – were jamming on an elevated deck. When we asked how we could get closer to them, it was explained that the players on the deck were rehearsing and we could see them and others inside, because the second and final day of the Grand Masters Fiddle Championship was taking place in the auditorium. We walked inside, past a very long line of sweaty tourists waiting to buy tickets to the museum, and into the cool – and free — auditorium to have a listen. And stayed all day, right to the champion-announcing end. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning and still can’t believe our luck in stumbling upon the event. Missouri’s Trustin Baker was the champ.

After three fun days in Nashville it was time for camp. I had registered as a lodging-on-site camper, but over the summer the notion of bunking in a room with five strangers and sharing one bathroom with up to 14 others lost its charm. I booked an Airbnb 20 minutes from camp, a scenic commute that provided a welcome respite at the end of the day when my fingers were sore and my brain was full. Eleven students registered for camp. Several of us fell into the 3-5 year playing range, but most had played less than a year, including the guy who bought a fiddle the week before so he could come to the camp with a buddy, all the way from Alaska.  That’s brave!

Eleven campers were split into three groups, each group composed of students with a range of playing experience as well as one or two instructors. For two full days we worked within our small groups, as well as during workshops with everyone, on tunes our groups would play during a recording session Sunday morning. The recording session was the real deal: Chownings have a state of the art recording studio in their home. A recording engineer came in Sunday morning to record our performances, and then digitally tweaked the outcome to make us sound the best we could. We were all nervous prior to the recording session, which turned out to be tons of fun and left us all with a sense of achievement as we incorporated all we’d learned about bowing, intonation, rhythm, bass notes, arpeggios, chops, group dynamics and more.

The highlight of camp time was Saturday night’s jam session. About 20 musicians — the guy who had played his fiddle for two days, professional musicians who record and tour with big names, and everyone in between – gathered in the living room and jammed. Fiddles, guitars and mandolins; a magical time that went on for hours. Adult Beginner Fiddle camp was hard work and a lot of fun. I met the most warm and wonderful people. Some of us have stayed in touch and plan to attend future camps together. Campers eat well too! Adam’s parents, Miss Lela and Mr. Randy, fed us in true southern style each day, as well as being present to offer southern hospitality and support.   In addition to fiddle camps, Megan and Adam host a number of camps for guitar, mandolin, dobro and banjo. Learn more about camp offerings at Nashville Acoustic Camps.

2019 Officers

President: Tom Bailey

Vice-President: Kathy Schwar

Secretary: Jane Reetz

Treasurer: Greg Roat

Directors-at-Large: Bill Kraft, B.J. Cunningham, Elaine Chandler, Pat Fink, Ray Ettington

Membership Coordinator: Mike Deniz

Newsletter Editor: Susan Cady-White

Webmaster: Jack Metzger

FOG Contact Info

It’s EASY to Contact & Connect with FOG

Call the Fiddle Fone! (585) 234-3582

  • Hear the latest FOG announcements.
  • Leave voice mail messages.
  • Check for last-minute changes in jam locations or gig schedules

Surf the World Wide Web!

Visit the FOG website at www.fiddlersofthegenesee.org

  • See schedules & locations for jams & gigs.
  • Leave e-mail messages.
  • Current FOG members (password required) can download FOG music sheets, midi files and past issues of the FOG Fiddletter.

Mailing Address:

Yes! “Snail mail” still works reliably! It’s just a little slower than the internet….

Fiddlers of the Genesee
Post Office Box 631
Fairport, NY 14450-0631

Friday Night Jams (7-9 pm)

Perinton-Fairport VFW Hall, 300 Macedon Center Rd., 14450

May 3, 17, 24, 31

Penfield American Legion, 1707 Old Penfield Rd.

May 10

2019 Gig Schedule

No gigs scheduled for May.

June 15, Macedon Public Library

June 17, Fairport Canal Cruise

Reminder: Participation at all FOG Gigs is limited to current FOG members!!

You must sign up in the “FOG Gig Book” and attend at least one jam / rehearsal to perform at a FOG gig.

About FOG

“Fiddlers of the Genesee” (FOG) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing together people for the purpose of stimulating, preserving and promoting the tradition of “Old-Time Fiddling” in the Genesee River area of New York State and to play a variety of Fiddle Music with emphasis on the following:

      1. Musical participation
      1. Encouragement of musical development
      1. Non-competitive fellowship
      1. Acoustic instrumentation
      1. Education of members and the public about old-time fiddling

For more information call the “Fiddle Fone” (585) 234-3582; write to us at P.O. Box 631, Fairport, NY 14450-0631; or visit our website at:



President’s Remarks

Contributed by Tom Bailey

REMINDER: This Friday, April 5th, there will be a business meeting at the jam session. No, this is not a lengthy regular business meeting; this will a presentation of the new website for the Fiddlers of the Genesee!  Mike Deniz has done a great job of converting the website into a more current format. The new website is easy to use and covers just about everything a member would want. The new website isn’t going live yet, as we want more folks to try it and provide feedback to the Board. The Board wants your input on the content and ease of use. I hope you can join us! Jack, thank you for all you have done to keep the present website up and running, a job well done!

It has been a great COPs gig season. Thank you to all who have made this so special. We have received many favorable comments from recreation directors about the performances, such as our music being “high energy”, really “together” and “sounding fantastic”.

More COPs events are coming up soon.  First off, we have the Fiddlers Spring Picnic, which will be held May 5th at the Ellison Park Pavilion Lodge, located in the northwest corner of the park. Please check out the flyer included in this newsletter. In June we have the opportunity to play at the Macedon Public Library again. We played there last year and that was one great audience. July 20th we have been asked to play two sessions at the Friendly Home, in two different buildings. This is also a repeat performance from last year, as the residents asked that we come back. New this year will be playing for the Macedon Erie Canal Celebration on July 27th. We need to learn to play Erie Canal for that one! In August we have the annual Mumford Fiddlers Fair.  September brings the event at the VA Hospital — Bob Hyder’s favorite — and the Palmyra Canaltown Days. Somewhere in all this, Ferris Hills wants to bring us back out for a big party, but we aren’t sure when.

The Board has voted to be one of the main sponsors of Golden Link’s Turtle Hill Folk Festival in September. With this, we will be running a jam tent during the day for folks to come out and play between activities. We are in the process of locating a tent for the jam session, similar to Mumford, but we won’t be performing on stage. I think we should send Jay and Molly an invite to come jam while they are there. Fiddlers of the Genesee will have a full ad in the program and will be listed as a sponsor in all the publicity.

We have been talking about this for a while but the Board has pulled it together: we are holding a series of workshops that will be taught by Michelle Younger, who recently returned from playing in Thailand. As of now, there are three workshops scheduled, each building on the previous one:

  1. Clawhammer Banjo (beginner/intermediate) – May 18
  2. How to make a tune your own. Introduction to variation and improvisation in old-time music (all levels, all instruments) – June 8
  3. Playing with other people and learning tunes on the fly (all levels, all instruments) – June 22

The clawhammer course will be focusing on the strong rhythm that the clawhammer banjo brought to the original music in the early 1800’s. I am hoping we can get a few fiddlers to come in for the last 30 minutes to play with the banjos. Maybe all instruments can come in and jam afterward.

The descriptions of the other two workshops are self-explanatory. We will send out an email blast with details very soon. Non-members will be invited to help defray costs. The sessions will be held at one of the storefronts in BayTowne Plaza, at the intersection of Empire Blvd and Bay Road in Webster. There is a tradeoff for this: the DiMarco Group (plaza owner) is putting up a 40’x 80’ tent for weekly entertainment, from May until October, and they want us to help find groups. I am contacting school bands and other groups that I know, to see if they would be interested in playing. DiMarco will be also holding car shows, fireworks, even cookouts – any type of activity that could entertain community residents. I would hope FOG might take this opportunity to play for an audience that normally wouldn’t have a chance to hear us. Maybe some of the smaller groups would play?

For now, please mark your calendar for April 5thto see the new website presentation!

Until next time … Play nice!

2018 Annual Meeting

Below are the minutes of the Annual Business Meeting, which was held December 7, 2018 at the Fairport-Perinton VFW. Please take the time to read through the minutes to learn what’s going on behind the scenes at Fiddlers of the Genesee. Be an informed member!

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM with 12 members present. President Tom Bailey read the FOG Mission Statement.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting: Jane Reetz reported that a copy of the draft minutes from the 12/8/17 Annual Business Meeting had been published in the November Fiddletter. The minutes were approved unanimously. (BH/GR)

Treasurer’s Report: Greg Roat presented the treasurer’s report for the eight months January 1 – November 30, 2018.  Cash assets – Ending Balance 11/30/18 – $9695.44.  The inventory has been devaluated.  Some items had been sold at a reduced cost because of condition, some unusable items were disposed of and some items are being stored by Mica Schmidt.  Tax returns are still being filed. Membership renewals are due; after March, the website password will be changed and the “members only” section will no longer be available to members who have not renewed.  The report was approved unanimously. (BH/JR)

Membership Report– Mike Deniz reported that there are currently 108 active memberships. 20 memberships did not renew for 2018. A survey from non-renewing members showed 50/50 that the reasons for non-renewals were conflicts with schedules and distance to jams and new members were unable to keep up with the tempo of the music.  The board has approved a change in the policy of “slow jams.”  Instead of a one-hour slow jam two times/month, a 30-minute slower tempo start will begin the session every week as determined by those in attendance.  This will afford members the opportunity to request tunes at a slower tempo.

 Annual Election for 2019:  Jane read the Slate of Candidates that had been presented in an email blast to the membership as follows:  President-Tom Bailey, VP-Kathy Schwar, Treasurer-Greg Roat, and Secretary-Jane Reetz.  Directors-At-Large 2019/20: #1-Ray Eddington – serving remaining one year of term; #2-Elaine Chandler – serving remaining one year of term.  #3 – Pat Fink – returning for another two-year term; #4 – B.J. Cunningham – new two-year term; #5 – Bill Kraft – new two-year term. There being no other nominations from the floor, a motion was made to accept the slate. (BH/GR)  The 2018 FOG secretary, Jane Reetz, cast one vote on behalf of the membership and the slate was elected.

 Music Committee Report:  Deb Abell distributed copies of the repertoire so that members could give their input on which six tunes they would like to see retired from the list.  Core Tunes and recently introduced tunes cannot be voted off.  The music committee will make the final decision on removing tunes and updating the list.  Anyone can forward a suggestion for a new tune or “tune fixes” to the Music Committee. “Tune fixes” may include intros and harmonies.  It was suggested to slow down the introduction of new tunes to four new tunes/year.  Also, send suggestions to the Music Committee for additional tunes to add to the “Core List.”  Work still needs to be done on the “Erie Canal” song.

Old Business: None

New Business

  • Membership Coordinator– A replacement for Mike needs to be found.  It might be helpful to divide this position into a “membership committee” consisting of three parts:
    1. A Follow-Up Person – Get in touch with members who have stopped coming to jams – possibly due to illness (themselves or family members). B.J. Cunningham volunteered to head this up.
    2. E-blast Contact Person – Take on the task of sending out e-blasts to the membership as requested by the President.
    3. Member Information Database – Take charge of maintaining the database containing all the membership information
  • New Webpage/Newsletter/Facebook

Webpage (Mike Deniz) – Our current webpage is outdated. An updated webpage would have the capability to contain links to other areas including recordings, videos and photos. This would take it in a new direction. Mike is currently working with the basic application of “WordPress” which is free.  The BOD approved an upgraded version, which would greatly enhance the capabilities available.  Plans are to run the old and new webpages simultaneously to eliminate any problems before deleting the old webpage.  Fiddletter (Susan Cady-White) – Susan has taken over as editor of the Fiddletter. This is also being done in “WordPress” and will tie in with the new website.

Facebook(Deb Abell) – Send any information you would like to see included on the FOG Facebook page to Deb.  This can also be linked to the new webpage.  More social media might eventually result in more paying gigs for FOG!

  • Advertise need for more Fiddlers– We need to get the word out that we need more fiddlers.  Social media will be used to spread the message.  A suggestion was also made to run an ad in the Pennysaver to come play music with us.
  • Tunes at jams– The board would like to see more time spent on the core tunes as well as the news tunes that have been recently introduced by the music committee.  This will give all of us (old and new members) the opportunity to go over tunes that are not played that often.
  • COP gigs– Tom is currently taking requests for COPs. There will be one in January, two in February and March and one in April.  Last year we had to cancel because of a lack of fiddlers – we need to bring more fiddlers into the club.
  • More new CD’s– An order for an additional 100 CDs has recently been placed.  The board made a decision to spend $200 on fixing the variations in the level of the sound on the CD.  This was due to the original recordings being done in four different locations.  A profit will still be made on each CD.  The shipment should arrive before Christmas. Plans are to advertise FOG in the following ways: placing copies of the CDs in local libraries; selling them on the “local musicians” rack at Bernunzio’s Music; and sending copies to local radio stations for program usage.
  • Spring “picnic”– Tom asked if members were interested in having a spring picnic similar to the one held in November. It would take place before or after the Easter break.  The members were in agreement.  Tom will look into renting a facility.

Adjournment: There being no further business, the meeting was officially adjourned at 8:10PM. (BH/GR)

Respectfully submitted, Jane Reetz, Secretary, 12/13/18

Quarterly Meeting and FOG Website Overview 

A quarterly business meeting will be held on Friday, April 5th. The meeting will begin at 7 pm, or as soon as we have a quorum.  Members are encouraged to attend and to bring up any issues that they may have.  After addressing all of the agenda items, Mike Deniz will present an overview of the new FOG website that he has recently completed. Come and learn about the new website and all the features that it includes.  A regular fiddle music jam session will begin immediately following the presentation.

FOG Tune of the Month: St. Anne’s Reel, with Harmony

Contributed by Deb Abell

St Anne's Reel

Click here for a Printable PDF of St. Anne’s Reel.



Susan Cady-White, editor

Wow,  so much information in this month’s Fiddletter! As with all organizations, there’s lots of behind the scenes activity, on an ongoing basis, that keep the group going strong. If you haven’t read the minutes of the Annual Meeting held in December, please scroll back up and have a look, you will learn something. And come to the jam this Friday night to see the launch of the new website!

I haven’t been in this Editor’s Chair long at all, but each month member contributions come in that make this job — and this publication — interesting and fun. This is YOUR newsletter! If you attend an event, come across an interesting article, have a great fiddle experience, have a not-so-great fiddle experience, have newsletter suggestions — please share! Please email me at scadywhite@gmail.com.

Happy Spring to all! Despite the snowfall that blanketed much of the area this morning, spring is officially here and it’s time to get out and enjoy the sun and warmer weather.

March 2019 Fiddletter

President’s Remarks

Contributed by Tom Bailey

A shout out to you winter lovers, I hope you are ecstatic with our February weather. I Leprechaun-Fiddlinghave come to the conclusion that the older you get, the more winters become a hassle. But I do hear from the cold weather fans that this will go down as a good year. Actually, it is good; the colder it is the more one can stay inside and play music!IMG_1681

The board has spent the last month or so reviewing the new webpage. We must be getting close to something really great as the number of emails where Mike has done some more tweaking is slowing down. Actually, it is good — VERY good — Mike has created a document that is easy to use and covers just about everything a member would want. Come see for yourself — the April 5th jam will start with a presentation by Mike of the new FOG webpage. It won’t go live yet, as we want more folks to try it and comment back to the Board. We want to get input on the ease of use and its completeness. Please put April 5thon your calendar.

We had two really good COPs gigs, Solstice and 80 Parrish St. apartments. The audiences

Customers of the Creamery in Canandaigua got an unexpected treat when FOG members who stopped for ice cream played for them.

really enjoyed the performance and I received a call from the folks at 80 Parrish wanting to know if we would come back and entertain at a paying gig this summer! As I mentioned last month, we would welcome more members coming out and being part of reaching out to appreciative audiences. Members are busy this time of year and sometimes we don’t have as many musicians available to entertain as we would like for achieving a balanced

Creamery Sign
Cheshire Farms Creamery, 10 Parrish St., Canandaigua.

sound.  It would really be great if you can come out and join us. A complete upcoming gig schedule was distributed several weeks ago so you can what we have coming up. We hear about closet musicians, how about closet MC’s? We are always looking for folks interested in leading our presentations.


Rumors abound! Well, maybe not rumors since our delegate to the Fiddlers Fair, Bob Hyder, has given us a preliminary report that the main tent this year will be used for fiddle lessons through the weekend, with some of the best fiddlers in the upstate leading the activities. This will add a whole new dimension to the weekend! The Genesee Valley Country Museum will be having another planning meeting soon and more details will be forthcoming.

Every September Golden Link Folk Singing Society hosts a great musical event, the Turtle THFFlogoGoldHill Folk Festival. FOG has had the opportunity to support the event in various ways over the years and the board is looking at how we might be able to do it again this year. The big news is Jay Ungar and Molly Mason will be the headliners on Saturday and will be holding workshops during the event.  Obviously FOG would like to support Golden Link with this major endeavor. Stay tuned for more information.

There you have it for this month, quite a few activities happening. Please consider coming out and being part of the fun and excitement!

Hope to see you at a jam session real soon …

Until next time … Play nice!


FOG Tune of the Month 

Glenburnie Rant

Contributed by Deb Abell

music notes


Scan 2

Listen here to the Glenburnie Rant. Click here for a Printable PDF.


What is Old-time Music Anyway?  

Contributed by Kathy Schwar

“Old-time” usually refers to music that evolved in isolated regions of the Southern Appalachians and other places in the southern U.S., based partly on tunes from the British Isles and on the rhythm of the banjo, which was developed from a West African instrument.  Old-time music predates bluegrass.  It’s the original early-recorded “country music” of the 1920s and 1930s, played by ordinary working people in communities, before travel was easy and before recordings could be heard on the radio. Old-time was the name given to this rural music by one of the first record companies to discover it and produce recordings.

The music may be fast or slow, played by a single banjo or fiddle, or the two together, or as a whole string band once guitars entered the scene somewhere after the turn of the century. There might be lyrics, although these might be “floating verses”, common to many tunes.  There’s a great deal of syncopation, and tunes might have extra beats or bars, or missing beats or bars.  Some wonderful tunes have little melody and lots of rhythm.  There are up-tempo square-dance tunes in major keys, and slow haunting ones
in modes somewhere between major and minor. There’s a lot of variation between individual players as well as differing regional styles, and no one “right way” to play any tune.

It’s quite different from bluegrass, which was developed from old-time music and other influences, even though a number of tunes of the same name are played in both genres.  Bluegrass was created to be enjoyed by an audience, and each instrument in turn stands out by playing an improvised solo break.  Old Time was never performance music; it’s participatory music to sit and play, or dance to.

The Difference Between Bluegrass and Old-time


An OT banjo is open-backed, with an old towel (probably never washed) stuffed in the back to dampen overtones.  A BG banjo has a resonator to make it louder.

An OT banjo weighs 5 pounds, towel included. A BG banjo weighs 40 pounds.

An OT banjo player can lose three right-hand fingers and two left-hand fingers in an industrial accident without affecting his performance.

A BG banjo needs 24 frets. An OT banjo needs no more than 5, and some don’t need any.

A BG banjo player puts jewelry on his fingertips to play. An OT banjo player puts super glue on his fingernails to strengthen them. Never shake hands with an OT banjo player while he’s fussing with his nails.

A BG banjo is tuned gDGBD. An OT banjo can be in a hundred different tunings.

A BG fiddle is tuned GDAE. An OT fiddle can be in a hundred different tunings.

Old-time musiciansOT fiddlers seldom use more than two fingers of their left hand, and uses tunings that maximize the number of open strings played. BG fiddlers study 7th position fingering patterns with Isaac Stern, and take pride in never playing an open string.

An OT fiddle player only uses a quarter of his bow. The rest is just wasted.
The BG fiddler paid $10,000 for his fiddle at the Violin Shop in Nashville. The OT fiddler got his for $15 at a yard sale.

An OT guitarist knows the major chords in G and C, and owns a capo for A and D. A BG guitarist can play in E-flat without a capo.

The fanciest chord an OT guitarist needs is an A to insert between the G and the D7 chord. A BG guitarist needs to know C#aug+7-4.

OT guitarists stash extra picks under a rubber band around the top of the peghead. BG guitarists would never cover any part of the peghead that might obscure the gilded label of their $3,000 guitar.

It’s possible to have an OT band without a mandolin.
OT mandolin players use “A”model instruments (pear shaped) by obscure makers. BG mandolin players use “F” model Gibsons that cost $100 per decibel.

A BG band always has a bass. An old OT band doesn’t have a bass, but new time OT bands seem to need one for reasons that are unclear.

A BG bass starts playing with the band on the first note. An OT bass, if present, starts sometime after the rest of the band has run through the tune once depending on his blood alcohol content.

A BG bass is polished and shiny. An OT bass is often used as yard furniture.

Other Instruments
A BG band might have a Dobro. An OT band might have anything that makes noise including: hammered or lap dulcimer, jaw harp, didgeridoo, harmonica, conga, washtub bass, miscellaneous rattles & shakers, or one-gallon jug (empty).

The Music
OT songs are about whiskey and chickens. BG songs are about God, mother and the girl who did me wrong. If the girlfriend isn’t murdered by the third verse, it ain’t Bluegrass.

OT bands have nonsense names like Hoss Hair Pullers, Fruit Jar Drinkers and Skillet Lickers. BG bands have serious gender-specific names like Bluegrass Boys, Foggy Mountain Boys, and Clinch Mountain Boys

A BG band has 1 to 3 singers who are singing about an octave above their natural vocal range. Some OT bands have no singers at all.

A BG band has a vocal orchestrator who arranges duet, trio and quartet harmonies. In an OT band, anyone who feels like it can sing or make comments during the performance.

All BG tunes & songs last 3 minutes. OT tunes & songs sometimes last all night.

All the instruments in an OT band play together all the time.
BG bands feature solos on each instrument.

BG bands have carefully mapped-out choreography due to the need to provide solo breaks. If OT band members move around, they tend to run into each other. Because of this problem, OT bands often sit down when performing, while a BG band always stands. Because they’re sitting, OT bands have the stamina to play for a square or contra dance.

The audience claps after each BG solo break. If anyone claps for an OT band it confuses them, even after the tune is over.

Personalities & Stage Presence

BG band members wear uniforms, such as blue polyester suits and gray Stetson hats. OT bands wear jeans, sandals, work shirts and caps from seed companies.

Chicks in BG bands have big hair and Kevlar undergarments. Chicks in OT bands jiggle nicely under their dungarees.

A BG band tells terrible jokes while tuning. An OT band tells terrible jokes without bothering to tune.

BG band members never smile. OT band members will smile if you give them a drink. You can get fired from a BG band for being obviously drunk on stage.

BG musicians eat barbecue ribs. OT musicians eat tofu.

BG musicians have high frequency hearing loss from standing near the banjo player. OT musicians have high frequency hear loss from standing near the fiddler.

BG musicians stay on the bus or at the nearest Motel 6. OT musicians camp in the parking lot.

Reprinted with permission from Old-time Lewes Visit the web site for their tunes list and helpful resources.


by Susan Cady-White, editor

I’m editing and typing in Florida today, enjoying my last day of warmth and sunshine IMG_0166before heading home to New York. Living the shorts-and-tee-shirt life for the past ten days has been great, but I’m ready to be home. Home is home and, well, let’s face it, I miss my dog.

I enjoyed the informative and entertaining article about old-time music, submitted by Kathy Schwar. Old-time has always been one of those things that I couldn’t accurately describe, but I knew it when I saw it or, in this case, heard it.

Back home in the frozen north, I recently installed D’Addario octave strings on one of my fiddles. I have two fiddles, one wooden and one carbon fiber, the latter being a gift from my husband for one of those significant birthdays than ends in zero. Octave strings areshopping GDAE strings, one octave lower than standard violin/ fiddle strings. I put them on the carbon fiber fiddle because I was concerned about placing the strain of four heavier-gauge strings on my wooden fiddle. I didn’t have much time to play the octaves prior to traveling, and initially my ear was a bit confused, but I’m looking forward to playing them more when I return.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!


2019 Officers

BOD President: Tom Bailey
Vice-President: Kathy Schwar
Secretary: Jane Reetz
Treasurer: Greg Roat
Directors-at-Large: Bill Kraft, B.J. Cunningham, Elaine Chandler, Pat Fink, Ray EttingtonMembership Coordinator: Mike DenizNewsletter Editor: Susan Cady-White
Webmaster: Jack Metzger

FOG Contact Info

It’s EASY to Contact & Connect with FOG

Call the Fiddle Fone! (585) 234-3582

  • Hear the latest FOG announcements.
  • Leave voice mail messages.
  • Check for last-minute changes in jam locations or gig schedules

Surf the World Wide Web!

Visit the FOG website at www.fiddlersofthegenesee.org

  • See schedules & locations for jams & gigs.
  • Leave e-mail messages.
  • Current FOG members (password required) can download FOG music sheets, midi files and past issues of the FOG Fiddletter.

Mailing Address:

Yes! “Snail mail” still works reliably! It’s just a little slower than the internet….

Fiddlers of the Genesee
Post Office Box 631
Fairport, NY 14450-0631

Friday Night Jams (7-9 pm)

Perinton-Fairport VFW Hall, 300 Macedon Center Rd., 14450

March 1, 15, 22, 29

Penfield American Legion

March 8

FOG jam clipart - canstockphoto136796392019 Gig Schedule

  • March 9: 2-3 PM, Woodcrest Commons, Henrietta
  • March 23: 2-3 PM, Ferris Hills, Canandaigua

Reminder: Participation at all FOG Gigs is limited to current FOG members!!

You must sign up in the “FOG Gig Book” and attend at least one jam / rehearsal to perform at a FOG gig.

fiddlelgoAbout FOG

“Fiddlers of the Genesee” (FOG) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing together people for the purpose of stimulating, preserving and promoting the tradition of “Old-Time Fiddling” in the Genesee River area of New York State and to play a variety of Fiddle Music with emphasis on the following:

      1. Musical participation
      1. Encouragement of musical development
      1. Non-competitive fellowship
      1. Acoustic instrumentation
      1. Education of members and the public about old-time fiddling

For more information call the “Fiddle Fone” (585) 234-3582; write to us at P.O. Box 631, Fairport, NY 14450-0631; or visit our website at:


February 2019 Fiddletter


President’s Remarks

Contributed by Tom Bailey

pixabay-3136544-1 degree with -20 degree wind chill … welcome to winter in Rochester! But it will be 40 in 5 days. What do they say – just wait for tomorrow and the weather will change?

The board would like to reach out to all the new members who have come out to the jam sessions in January – welcome! It’s great to have you join us. I would also really like to thank the members who haven’t been able to play with us for a while and are now able to come out and add to the jam sessions

We have a great start on preparing for our first COPs gig coming up February 9that Solstice (formerly Maplewood) on Ayrault Rd. Mike distributed the 2019 COPs List a couple weeks ago using tunes we all know pretty well.

FOG members sharing their music!

Sounds great but we would sure welcome more members to come out and be part of reaching out to seniors, entertaining them with music many of them grew up with in years past. It would really be great if you can come out and join us. Two weeks after Solstice we have another gig on the 23rd.  An event list was developed for dates and locations we know of at this time. More will be added soon. Thinking of gigs – are you interested in being the MC for any of the events? We are always looking for folks interested in leading our presentations.

It seems like forever that we have been talking about updating the FOG webpage and now, after Mike working for months on the new format, it is close to becoming a reality. The webpage is built on a new platform, one that connects directly to the newsletter. The webpage will have similar sections as the existing one but it will also have sections to click on to see event photos, to listen to recordings of gigs, maybe videos of workshops, almost anything members want. A couple clicks and the webpage articles will be on the FOG Facebook page. Didn’t know we have a Facebook page? We do! Just follow this link: Fiddlers of the Genesee But we don’t have anyone to keep it updated. Are you interested in helping with the Facebook page? The new webpage is easily updated because of the new program. Mike – thanks for setting up the newsletter and all your hard work on the Webpage. I also want to thank Susan Cady-White who is stepping in to take over the Fiddletter so Mike can focus on the Webpage. What great members we have!

There are a lot of possible activities that your Board is considering now, which are hopefully coming up in the near future if we can pull them together. But the bigger question is what would you like for FOG to put together? I am sure you have ideas that the Board hasn’t thought about, such as things to do at jam sessions? A special event that you would like? Please let one of your Board members know your thoughts.

As you are out playing at various gatherings you might think about inviting the folks either side of you to the FOG jams. Kathy Schwar reached out to several folks at a recent bluegrass jam and got a lot of interest. Kathy even had business cards on hand to pass out. Part of our Mission Statement is to share our music with others. What a great way to “pass it on”. Thanks Kathy!

Hope to see ya at a jam session real soon.

Until next time … Play nice!


FOG Tune of the Month: The Erie Canal

Contributed by Deb Abell

music notes


This is a simplified version of The Erie Canal and should replace the version that was released in June 2017. This link takes you to a PDF of the music. The Erie Canal, Revised 2019

The Erie Canal Song, as it is commonly known, was written in 1905, by Thomas S. Allen, under the title Low Bridge, Everybody Down. The song has also been known over the years as: Fifteen Years on the Erie CanalMule Named Sal and Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal. Around 1905, mule powered barge traffic had converted to steam power and diesel power was about to take over.  The Erie Canal Song was written to commemorate the history of nearly 100 years of life along the Erie Canal.

The Erie Canal Song is the most recognized of all the Erie Canal folksongs. Its interestinglowbridgeeverybodydown to note that the cover depicts a boy riding a mule leaned down to fit under a bridge, but in actuality the song is about the people in the boats. Travelers would typically ride on the roof of boats when the conditions allowed, but the low bridges along the route would require that they either duck down or get off the roof to fit under bridges.

Thomas S. Allen (1876-1919) was an early Tin Pan Alley composer with many popular songs not related to the canal life. His first major hit was Any Rags in 1903, only two years before that of the Erie Canal Song.

Graphic and content: www.eriecanalsong.com



New FOG Website Under Development

Contributed by Mike Deniz

The current http://www.fiddlersofthegenesee.org site, with Jack Metzger’s attentive support, has faithfully served us for almost 20 years now.  That is nothing short of miraculous given there have been no upgrades available to the software code itself to keep up with the lightning pace of upgrades and advancements to browser, operating system, and other web-based technologies over the years.

A test page from the new FOG web site, being developed in WordPress.

WP logoThis past fall the BOD approved the development of a new FOG website. The goals of this endeavor are 1) get ahead of the day when our site may suddenly not be supportable under current technologies; 2) avail ourselves of new features and functionality that are not supported by our current web platform; and 3) give our online presence a fresh new look. The site will be built and hosted using WordPress, a 3rd-party open source content management system. WordPress is the tool that is used to publish 30% of all websites now, and affords many advantages compatible with our organization’s mission:

  • The site can be developed and supported without having to write code. It is highly configurable. Future members can continue to upgrade and evolve the site without having to start from scratch.
  • The website supports all manner of multimedia platforms. In just minutes we can post the latest file formats of photos, videos, audio, documents, maps, and more to our site.
  • Our website will easily integrate with social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).
  • We can even add e-Commerce if we decide to go that route someday (i.e. selling CD’s, downloading music, accepting payments for gigs, membership, etc.).
  • There are hundreds of free “canned” programs (called plugins) for nifty features that can be bolted on to the site with just a couple clicks.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) tools. We can “juice” the website to increase the likelihood that we come up in Google searches for terms like “fiddling” or “old time music”.
  • The programs are regularly updated and debugged.
  • The website automatically scales for optimal viewing on computers, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Great real-time technical support.
  • The annual cost to FOG for a WordPress website and hosting is roughly equal to our
    current cost for just hosting via GoDaddy.
The new FOG web site will be easier to navigate and will allow for increased functionality and integration with current technology.

I have volunteered to develop the new FOG website. My guiding criteria, with blessing from the BOD, are that the site at a minimum:

  1. Be intuitive. Avoid reliance on icons or graphics to navigate. Menus should be prominent and if possible should not scroll off the screen as you scroll down a webpage.
  2. Be simple and clean; no busy color schemes or page layouts.
  3. Utilize as much of the width of your computer screen as possible to reduce scrolling.
  4. Preserve the content from our current website.
  5. Require member login credentials to access tunes and other proprietary content.
  6. Display the FOG logo and appropriate visuals on every page to set the tone for who we are and what we offer.
  7. Support two purposes: 1) provide content and info relevant to members; 2) attract new members or those interested in having us perform.
  8. Be able to print posts to hardcopy or to file (i.e. Fiddletter).

Once the new website is complete, the plan is to run it in parallel with the existing site for a period of time to ensure it meets all our needs. I can continue to modify/tweak it with member input. My goal is to have the test site ready for action before the end of this winter. Stay tuned! (or logged in).


A Concert with Jenny Lind

Submitted by Bruce “Rosko” Holmquist

On the evening of May 20, 2011, I was delighted and privileged to attend a concert performance by Jenny Lind (Jennifer Gliere), her accompanist on the pianoforte Otto Goldschmidt (Michael Unger), Enrico Belletti (Owen Broder) on the clarinet, and the famous promoter P. T. Barnum (Gerry Szymanski), held at the Lutheran Church of the

Jenny Lind
Image courtesy Forever Swedish

Incarnate Word on East Avenue. Md’lle Lind’s beautiful voice and costumes were very much enjoyed and appreciated by the audience as she performed works by Handel, her good friend Mendelssohn, Rossini, Mozart, Bellini, Verdi, ending the concert with her famous Swedish Melody. This last set was not mostly folk songs but rather contemporary compositions translated and sung in English. Between Md’lle Lind’s performances, Mr. Goldschmitt and Sig. Belletti performed. Mr. Goldschmitt performed, among other pieces, the Jenny Lind Polka for Piano Forte, with at least four variations of this well-known polka. Anton Wallerstein composed this in 1846, before Md’lle Lind’s first American tour, and originally titled it Jenny Lind’s Lieblings-Polka. During his remarks before the second part of the concert, Mr. Barnum sang The Jenny Lind Mania by W. H. C. West. The program notes that, “there has been no classical musician with such universal appeal as that of Jenny Lind.” In popular music only Frank Sinatra or the Beatles could compare. Innumerable objects with Jenny’s image adorning them created quite a market. This
comic song decries the commercialization and marketing of the “Swedish Nightingale”. The chorus goes: “Oh! Manias we’ve had many, and some have raised the wind; but the most absurd of any has been that of Jenny Lind.” One verse goes “My wife has a Jenny Lind bonnet, and a Jenny Lind carte-de visite with Jenny’s portrait on it. My handkerchief looks neat. My wife’s a slave to fashion, against it never sinned; Our baby and the kitten, are called after Jenny Lind.” A portion of the proceeds from Md’lle Lind’s 1851 Rochester concerts, in addition to a private contribution by her, went to the only Lutheran congregation in Rochester, Zion Lutheran Church, for a church bell. The bell was cast in 1870 for Zion and installed in the Incarnate Word church steeple in 1968 where it still rings.



The Bottom Lines

by Susan Cady-White, editor

In my second month of newsletter editing, I’m happy to report I’m picking up speed with the formatting software, feeling a bit less like a fish out of water, less like a somewhat older person in a pool of millennials. But my joy will be fleeting as the new web site and integrated newsletter will likely present a whole new opportunity for learning. And for unlearning. And why is unlearning always the hardest part? I easily forget things all the time; unlearning is a skill I haven’t quite mastered.

Thanks to Bruce Holmquist for the article on Jenny Lind. I took a detour from paragraph-shaping to go online and learn more about Jenny Lind the woman; up until now, I was most familiar with Jenny Lind the baby crib. Maybe a little more digging will explain that connection.

Thanks to Patricia Herberger for her lovely, welcoming email and for suggesting the complete address of the VFW be added to the newsletter. In the GPS era, it’s most helpful.  Complete street names and numbers lead you door to door.

Joe and Me
Joe Dady invited me to play with him last August at the annual Fiddlers Picnic on Conesus Lake.

Many of you know John and Joe Dady. And many more of you have enjoyed their music as The Dady Brothers, who have entertained this region and beyond for well over 40 years. Joe is a dear friend of mine, was my fiddle teacher for a few years, and has continued to be my all-things-music mentor. Late in 2018, Joe was diagnosed with chronic leukemia. He’s been undergoing treatment and the next step is stem cell therapy. Many thanks for keeping Joe in your thoughts and prayers, I know he would appreciate that.






2019 Officers

BODPresident: Tom Bailey
Vice-President: Kathy Schwar
Secretary: Jane Reetz
Treasurer: Greg Roat
Directors-at-Large: Bill Kraft, B.J. Cunningham, Elaine Chandler, Pat Fink, Ray EttingtonMembership Coordinator: Mike DenizNewsletter Editor: Susan Cady-White
Webmaster: Jack Metzger

FOG Contact Info

It’s EASY to Contact & Connect with FOG

Call the Fiddle Fone! (585) 234-3582

  • Hear the latest FOG announcements.
  • Leave voice mail messages.
  • Check for last-minute changes in jam locations or gig schedules

Surf the World Wide Web!

Visit the FOG website at www.fiddlersofthegenesee.org

  • See schedules & locations for jams & gigs.
  • Leave e-mail messages.
  • Current FOG members (password required) can download FOG music sheets, midi files and past issues of the FOG Fiddletter.

Mailing Address:

Yes! “Snail mail” still works reliably! It’s just a little slower than the internet….

Fiddlers of the Genesee
Post Office Box 631
Fairport, NY 14450-0631

Friday Night Jams (7-9 pm)

Perinton-Fairport VFW Hall, 300 Macedon Center Rd., 14450

February 1, 8, 15, 22

Penfield American Legion


FOG jam clipart - canstockphoto136796392019 Gig Schedule

  • February 9: 2-3, Solstice, 55 Ayrault Rd., Fairport
  • February 23: 2-3, 80 Parish St., Canandaigua
  • March 9: 2-3, Woodcrest Commons, Henrietta
  • March 23: 2-3, Ferris Hills, Canandaigua

Reminder: Participation at all FOG Gigs is limited to current FOG members!!

You must sign up in the “FOG Gig Book” and attend at least one jam / rehearsal to perform at a FOG gig.

fiddlelgoAbout FOG

“Fiddlers of the Genesee” (FOG) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing together people for the purpose of stimulating, preserving and promoting the tradition of “Old-Time Fiddling” in the Genesee River area of New York State and to play a variety of Fiddle Music with emphasis on the following:

      1. Musical participation
      1. Encouragement of musical development
      1. Non-competitive fellowship
      1. Acoustic instrumentation
      1. Education of members and the public about old-time fiddling

For more information call the “Fiddle Fone” (585) 234-3582; write to us at P.O. Box 631, Fairport, NY 14450-0631; or visit our website at:


May 2018 Fiddletter


Contributed by Tom Bailey

Finally, maybe spring has arrived? Grass is turning green, tree pollen is starting to turn everything yellow and maybe we can stop worrying about humidifying our instruments? If you ask Ray, it means it is time to get a FOG hat to keep the sun out of your eyes…

By the time you get this, we will have finished up our COPs gigs for this year. The final gigs were great with the highlight being Ferris Hills. For those who weren’t there, we did something very special – we introduced the residents to Rich’s Mountain Dulcimer playing backed up by the full group. It was really great and everyone really liked it. Mike put the full recording on YouTube for all members to enjoy. As always, Parrish St. was greatly received as we played to a full house.  John Zabinski joined the group for his first performance and he did a great job. It’s always a special day when we have first timers play with us. With John we had ten fiddles, nineteen members in all.

With the recording from Bristol Valley, then Woodcrest, Ferris Hills, and Parrish Street (click on text to hear), we have a strong base of material to choose from for the “Live” CD. The Music Committee will come up with 15 to 16 tunes for the CD. We will have the CD’s before Mumford, BUT, we need some ideas for the cover. I know there are some folks out there who are creative so please get those creative juices flowing and give us some ideas by May 14th – then we can get the CD into production.

Do you remember the survey that was done last year to find out the members’ favorite tunes? We used the results for the Bristol Valley set lists last year and will be using it again for this year’s Summer Set Lists. We will have more medleys, as we did for the COPs gigs, since they were very well received. We will also be incorporating some of the older tunes that we haven’t used for a while. We hope to distribute the set lists the first week of May.

The plans for the “Fiddle Music Day” at I-Square are coming together well. Looks like there will be four groups playing that day, including FOG. We will be announcing them soon when the last one is finalized.  PLEASE put the date – June 30th – on your computer, phone or if you are like me, your calendar. We sure need your participation if at all possible! We will be using one of our set lists so we should be well practiced by then.

What do you think about the new “Fiddletter” format? Several folks have commented and we really appreciate your input. We will be moving to the net level of software which will add more possibilities to the format. What Mike really needs is some write-ups from all of you about things you have one, events attended, etc. Just share some of the experiences you have been thru – can even have been something from last year.

The Board wants to put together a list of music teachers as a reference for all members. Know someone who teaches fiddle or mandolin or guitar or bass, or, heaven forbid – the banjo? Please let Ray, Jane or myself know. We would like to start putting them in the May edition of the Fiddletter.

That should about do it for this month – don’t forget – Play Nice

FOG Tune Lyrics (New Series!): Soldier’s Joy

Contributed by Ray Ettington & Mike Deniz

music notes

If you’ve played in a FOG gig before, you’ve observed the designated MC occasionally introducing a tune by citing its little known lyrics, as a means of adding a little “color commentary” to our performances. We thought it might be of interest to members to feature some of those lyrics in upcoming editions of the Fiddletter.  This month, in honor of Memorial Day, we feature Soldier’s Joy.

Soldier’s Joy” is a fiddle tune, classified as a reel or country dance. It is popular in the Soldiers JoyAmerican fiddle canon, in which it is touted as “an American classic” but traces its origin to Scottish fiddling traditions, and Irish fiddle traditions. It has been played in Scotland for over 200 years, and Robert Burns used it for the first song of his cantata ‘The Jolly Beggars’. According to documentation at the United States Library of Congress, it is “one of the oldest and most widely distributed tunes” and is rated in the top ten most-played old time fiddle tunes. According to the Illinois Humanities Center, the tune dates as early as the 1760s. In spite of its upbeat tempo and catchy melody, the term “soldier’s joy” has a much darker meaning than is portrayed by the tune. This term eventually came to refer to the combination of whiskey, beer, and morphine used by Civil War soldiers.

Gimme some of that Soldier’s Joy, you know what I mean’
I don’t want to hurt no more my leg is turnin’ green

Twenty-five cents for whiskey, twenty-five cents for beer
Twenty-five cents for morphine, get me out of here

I’m my momma’s pride and joy (3×)
Sing you a song called the soldier’s joy(1)

(1) Wikipedia contributors. “Soldier’s Joy (fiddle tune).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 Feb. 2018. Web. 27 Apr. 2018.

DVD Review: Learn to Play Old Time Fiddle by Brad LeftwichBradLeftwich_Old-timeFiddle_-DVDWERSO21-300

Contributed by Tom Bailey

There’s a great instruction video for old time fiddling produced by Homespun Video over in Woodstock, NY. Brad is recognized as one of the foremost old-time fiddlers in the US. He grew up listening to old time fiddling played by his grand-father and great-uncle. His most influential mentor was legendary fiddler Tommy Jarrel from the Mt Airy region of NC. In the DVD he starts with focusing on traditional down bow fiddling the basis for Appalachian fiddling. He goes into short bow and long saw strokes, various shuffles, beginning and ending licks and how to use these in traditional old-time fiddling to produce the flowing, rhythmic sound as played for generations
He presents the techniques in several fiddle tunes including ” Sugar Hill”, “Old Jimmy Sutton”, “Black-Eyed-Susie”, and “Jeff Sturgeon”. Great for up through intermediate fiddlers.
Click here to review product details and/or order.

Read more

September 2018 Fiddletter

President’s Remarks

Contributed by Tom Bailey

publicdomainq-applesCongratulation to all FOG members… This year’s Fiddler’s Fair at Mumford was one of the best ever according to the feedback we received from attendees. More than one listener came up and said that was the best FOG has sounded as far back as they could remember. Everyone who played worked so hard and it came thru as great entertainment. Even Dave Chandler, who has been around FOG for over 12 years, said you all were awesome – and thanks to Dave for hosting the barn stage, again. We had comments that the jam tent was really good – there was always someone leading the activities there. Thanks to Jack and Joanne, Greg, Bob, Fred and all the members who spent time joining in the playing! But one of the best parts of the weekend was the folks who were at the “welcome” table. There was someone, or two, or three there all the time, both days. So many folks pitched in and it really showed what great folks we have in FOG. And we had CD’s, FOG caps, thumb drives and gift cards available for anyone interested. Judging by the preliminary reports, there were a lot of visitors interested. We sold over 40 CD’s which is the most ever; several caps, and thumb drives went as well. Between Mumford and members’ purchases we have sold almost 70 CD’s. We only bought 100 so we might run out soon.

VA medical center
Canandaigua VA Medical Center

We have been asked to play at many places thus far this year, but this is looking to be the busiest fall in memory – because COPS gig locations are asking us back – they liked FOG so much. The first gig coming up is the picnic (yes they will serve pizza) at the VA hospital in Canandaigua. It is one of the gatherings that many FOG members look forward to every year. This year it is on Sept. 6th at 5:30pm – this Thursday. We really need some guitar and mando players. We will be playing the full Sunday set list from Mumford so most folks know it. Please come out and join the ensemble if you can.

Now after that we have the Palmyra Canaltown Days event on Sunday, Sept 16th. There we will play at 11:30am in the gazebo. Need to get there around 10:15 as parking places can be difficult to come up with. We will be using the SATURDAY set list from Mumford, with 3 or 4 tunes added. We will have that set list out this week. Soon after that we have a “curtain call” at Grand Vie – I think on the 19th – have to confirm. We will again use the
Saturday set list since folks will have it readily available. Next is Ferris Hills where we have been asked back by popular demand. We have been asked to play there on the 6th of October at 2:00 in the afternoon – in the dining room this time as they are a expecting a big turnout. Did I mention these are all paying gigs!

Bristol valley logoMumford is our biggest “event” of the year but Bristol Valley Theatre is our biggest gig – 2 hours playing in a performing theatre. This is on Sunday the 21st of October at 2:00pm. If you haven’t come out to play at a gig this year, this is a great one to start. I hope we can get as big a group as we did at the Fiddler’s Fair.

Then, on October 26th we’ve been invited to play again at Pioneer Day for Brockport Elementary students. The kids loved it last year and hopefully we can inspire future Old Time musicians. More to come…

BUT – we need more fiddlers to come out starting with Palmyra and especially at Bristol Valley. So many of you have let us know that you are going to be out of town on the days of the gigs = FOG could be in trouble. We are known as the Fiddlers of the Genesee, not Fiddler… PLEASE, if you are in town, come out and play at the gigs. The set lists will all be based on either day from Mumford, or both in the case of Bristol Valley. With that there is very little new to learn. Everybody is invited to come out and play these gigs.

Ellison Park Lodge
The Lodge at Ellison Park

To finish up our BUSY fall schedule, the annual FOG fall party will be on 11 November at the Lodge at Ellison Park – same as last year. The special part of the gathering will again be where any member plays individually or with joins with others to entertain the folks that come to the party. That’s where we first heard Rich and his mountain dulcimer. Maybe you can start planning now! A way to celebrate the friendships we have in FOG.

Hope to see you at a jam or even a gig real soon….. PLAY NICE!

2018 Mumford Fiddler’s Fair Photo Gallery

Contributed by Kathy Schwar and Mike Deniz





FOG Tune Lyrics: Darling Nelly Gray

Contributed by Ray Ettington & Mike Deniz

music notes

2Darling Nelly Gray” is a 19th-century popular song written and composed by Benjamin Hanby. Hanby was an American composer, educator, and pastor who wrote approximately 80 songs. The most famous of his compositions are “Darling Nelly Gray”, the Christmas songs “Up on the House Top”, “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas”, and the hymn “Who Is He In Yonder Stall?”. (1) 

“Darling Nelly Gray” is written from the point of view of an African-American male slave in Kentucky whose sweetheart has been taken away by slave owners. The man mourns his beloved, who has been sold South to Georgia, where the slave’s life was conventionally regarded as harsher. He eventually dies and joins her in heaven. He composed the song in response to the plight of a runaway slave named Joseph Selby or Shelby. (1) 14

Hanby composed “Darling Nelly Gray” in 1856 in what is now a national historical site, the Hanby House, located at the corner of Grove and Main Streets (moved in the 1930s to 160 West Main Street) in Westerville, OH. (2) 


There’s a low, green valley, on the old Kentucky shore.
Where I’ve whiled many happy hours away,
A-sitting and a-singing by the little cottage door,
Where lived my darling Nelly Gray.

Oh! my poor Nelly Gray, they have taken you away,
And I’ll never see my darling any more;
I’m sitting by the river and I’m weeping all the day.
For you’ve gone from the old Kentucky shore.

When the moon had climbed the mountain and the stars were shining too.
Then I’d take my darling Nelly Gray,
And we’d float down the river in my little red canoe,
While my banjo sweetly I would play.

Darling Nelly Gray art
Image from the Duke University Libraries Digital Collection

One night I went to see her, but “She’s gone!” the neighbors say.
The white man bound her with his chain;
They have taken her to Georgia for to wear her life away,
As she toils in the cotton and the cane.

My canoe is under water, and my banjo is unstrung;
I’m tired of living any more;
My eyes shall look downward, and my song shall be unsung
While I stay on the old Kentucky shore.

My eyes are getting blinded, and I cannot see my way.
Hark! there’s somebody knocking at the door.
Oh! I hear the angels calling, and I see my Nelly Gray.
Farewell to the old Kentucky shore.

Oh, my darling Nelly Gray, up in heaven there they say,
That they’ll never take you from me any more.
I’m a-coming-coming-coming, as the angels clear the way,
Farewell to the old Kentucky shore!

(1) Wikipedia contributors. “Nelly Gray (song).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Jul. 2018. Web. 1 Sep. 2018.
(2) Wikipedia contributors. “Benjamin Hanby.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 Aug. 2018. Web. 1 Sep. 2018.

Red Wing, Schumann, and Guthrie: A Short History

Contributed by Diana Green

Robert Schumann 1839

Have you ever heard the classical piano piece “The Happy Farmer” by Robert Schumann? Out pops “Red Wing ”! Lyrics to the popular “Indian Maid” were written by prolific songwriter Kerry Mills for Vaudeville and popularized during the great heyday of sheet music when every parlor in America had a piano and every family expected the kids to play it. My grandmother learned “Red Wing” as a girl. Her father was a choir director and organist in Carthage, Missouri. He also owned a barbershop during the height of popularity of Barbershop Quartets. I have a copy of “Red Wing” sheet music from way back when.

Later, in the era of super powered radio transmission, Les Paul’s Band transmitted twice a day, once from the East Coast and later from the West Coast, teaching every household in North America fortunate enough to own a radio. “Red Wing” was popular with a lengthy instrumental and solos by Les and a male vocalist. I have a recording from 1938 complete with breaks for advertising by the sponsor, a representative of Big Tobacco. I learned “Red Wing” as a baby just learning to babble from my Grandmother who had played and sung it with her family two generations earlier in the parlor in Carthage.

Then along comes Woody.

Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie was born in Oklahoma not that far from the border with Missouri where my people lived. They spoke American with similar drawls and inflections. His early life was one family tragedy after another and he dropped out of school and made his way in the world drawing and painting signs. He also played guitar. And he wrote song parodies. His family moved to Texas and he went along. And when the Dustbowl destroyed the land and killed the people he too almost died in a shack near Amarillo. He wrote a song called “So Long! It’s Been Good to Know You” and moved west with hundreds of thousands of other half dead midwesterners to greener pastures. But the green pastures were not for them. They were turned away at the borders to the lands of plenty and deprived of jobs. Those that made it to California suffered abuse, jobs with starvation wages, homelessness. Their children continued to die from silica-related respiratory disease from the dust they choked on years earlier. The Country was by then experiencing the unemployment crisis of the

Red Wing sheet music cover from 1907

1930’s. Families with children could get a little Government Relief, but children were cut off at age thirteen. Jobs were not available for adult males. No one would hire a teenager. Many young teenagers, girls as well as boys, hopped trains to look for work anywhere there was a rumor of jobs. Woody Guthrie rode the rails with derelicts young and old, male and female, people of varied skin color. Deaths among this demographic were common due to accidents and injury, disease and starvation. The children died at an especially high rate. Many like “Hobo Bill” had no identification and their families never knew what became of them. Woody Guthrie became a troubadour. His song parodies energized those who heard them. He met Pete Seeger in California and the met Huddie Ledbetter in Chicago. They shared living spaces for a time and they all wrote songs. Woody was especially prolific. They all sympathized with the plight of the factory workers and wrote songs in their behalf. Of these, Woody Guthrie’s “Union Maid” to the tune of “Red Wing” aka “Indian Maid” aka “The Happy Farmer”, is perhaps the best known today. I sing it somewhere every Labor  Day and find many fellow musicians can find the words instantly on their devices and take the song away from me!

Read more

April 2018 Fiddletter

easter-bunny-violinPresident’s Remarks

Contributed by Tom Bailey

Welcome to our new Fiddletter presentation. Yes, it is a work in process but the Board wants to thank Mike Deniz for all the hard work he has done in bringing this together. It will continue to evolve as we realize the program’s capabilities, but the best part about this program – we are not required to have an editor. Each Board member can go into the program and insert their info. For now, Mike will serve as the coordinator/developer to do a final check of the newsletter before it is e-mailed out. We are working out the process so that this can be printed and mailed to members who do not have email access.

Everyone is aware for the first time in FOG’s history, we had to cancel the gig at Baywinde on the 11th of March. Mike was the only remaining fiddler who could be there and he didn’t feel comfortable carrying every tune – sure can’t blame him for that. A few of our fiddlers have decided to stop performing for personal reasons; many have taken on family responsibilities which limits their time to participate. Some have retired and are busier now than before. We have three COP’s gigs left through April and it looks like we should be OK for those. But, as a group we are looking at ways to pass the word to entice more fiddlers to join our ranks. I hope you all can help us reach out to folks as we pull this effort together.

As a reminder, the Board will be setting a new password for the webpage at the meeting the first week in April. All those who have had their dues will receive an e-blast with the new password. Why a password you might ask? The main reason is to keep the music sheets from being available to the public. The Music Committee works very hard to decide on six new tunes a year and prepare the shee5t music for distribution to the members. They also provide tune “fixes” to tunes which have determined to need some revisions. Granted, most of the music we play is in the public domain but when the Music Committee re-writes certain phrases or writes harmonies to some of the tunes, we would like that to be available to members only.

Ray has obtained re-usable name tags for folks to wear at the jams. We have several new members and this will help them to know everyone. It will also help us old folks who can’t remember names as well! It would be the easiest to keep this up if everyone at the jams would leave the nametags with Ray when packing up. If you take them home, maybe you can put them in your cases so they will make it back to the next jam!

Sorry to say one of our long standing (and outstanding) members, Dick Pierce, lost his sister on March 11th. The family was with her at the time of her passing. Thanks to Irene and Jane for getting a card together at one of the recent jams for all to sign and give to Dick. We have such a great, supportive group of friends. I am sure Dick knows we are all here to support him through this difficult time.


Tempo Slow App Review

Contributed by Mike Deniz

IMG_0291If you’re like me, you download some tunes to your computer or mobile device that you dream of figuring out how to play one day – even if it’s only the base melody or a particular “riff”. The logical place to start is trying to find the sheet music online, but that often doesn’t pan out.  Another option is to use an app that can slow down your music sufficiently for you to play by ear.  There are many such apps out there; some free, some requiring purchase. One such free app that I use is Tempo Slow – also called Tempo SlowMo. It is available for iOS and Android platforms (I use mine on my iPhone).  The user interface is fairly easy to figure out as you start to work with it.

IMG_0290Once installed, you can select a song from your device playlist, Dropbox, WiFi connection, or even record ambient audio from your device’s microphone. From there a touch sensitive “turn wheel” lets you select the speed of play based on a percentage of the original tempo (100%).  If you’re in a masochistic frame of mind, you can even speed up the tune by cranking the wheel over 100%.  It should be noted that at some threshold the sound becomes increasingly “muddy” the more you decrease the speed. The percentage where this starts to occur depends on the tune. For songs with one or a couple of instruments, you can crank the percentage lower before you reach a point of diminishing returns. I find I can go down as low as half speed (50%) on my fiddle-only tunes, but for all others I can still get decent resolution at 65% tempo.

IMG_0292A swipe of the screen brings you to another screen which displays your song’s time track in the same turn wheel format. From here you have the ability to insert three different types of markers anywhere along the song’s duration.  One type of marker set lets you identify a start and end point anywhere along the song, so you are not relegated to playing it from the beginning each time or manually pressing “stop”. Another set of markers lets you play-loop any segment of the song over and over. This is particularly useful when you are trying to hammer out a difficult part so you don’t have to put your instrument down. The third marker lets you quickly return to a specific point in the track. To remove a marker, just touch it and hold for 2 seconds.

If you need help using this app, feel free to corner me a jam session. Enjoy!


Upcoming Festivals

Contributed by Tom Bailey

New York

  • Ashokan Fiddle & Dance, Catskill Mountains  *  **ashoken
    • Traditional String Fling, May 4-6
    • Appalachian, Old Time Aug 12-18
    • Bluegrass Camp, Oct 26-28
  • Thousand Islands Bluegrass Festival, LaFargeville, NY  Jun 8-10 *
  • Tug Hill Bluegrass Festival, Lowville, NY, Jun 14-15
  • Old Time Fiddle Gathering, Watkins Glen, NY, Jun 16-17  *
  • Busy Bird Bluegrass Festival, Berkshire, NY, Jul 5-8,
  • Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Oak Hill, NY, Jul 19-22  *  **
  • Brantling Bluegrass Festival, Sodus, NY, Jul 26-29 *
  • Pickin’ in the Pasture, Lodi, NY, Aug 23-26 *
  • Old Tone Roots Music Festival, North Hillsdale, NY, Sep 6-9 **


  • Del Fest, Cumberland, MD, May 24-27 **


  • Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, Gettysburg, PA *  **Gettysburg
    • May 17-20
    • Aug 16-19
  • Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival, Wind Gap, PA, May 24-27 *
  • NEPA Bluegrass Festival, Tunkhannock, PA, May 31-June 3
  • Smoked Country Jam Festival, Cross Fork, PA, Jun 14-16
  • Remington Ryde Bluegrass Festival, Centre Hall, PA, Jul 4-8 *
  • AFBA Bluegrass Festival, Wind Gap, PA, Aug 2-5


  • Northeast Heritage Music Camp, Starksboro, VT, Jun 17-23 **virginia


  • Old Fiddlers Convention, Galax, VA, Aug 6-11 ***

* Recommended by FOG member
** Nationally acclaimed
** * Granddaddy of all Fiddlers Conventions

June 2018 Fiddletter

JunePresident’s Remarks

Contributed by Tom Bailey

Well last month we welcomed Spring, but that didn’t last long. I am not going to scare off summer by saying anything. Just hope you are enjoying the weather! Road construction is rampant and folks taking off to visit somewhere or someone… Oh well – rejoice the precipitation isn’t white.

I want to congratulate everyone who joined in the performances during the COPs gig season. Residents were telling us “sure hope you can come back soon…” as we were packing up. We figured they must have enjoyed FOG but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. We are being asked to comeback and play, with pay, to both Grand Vie (probably in September) and Ferris Hills (tentatively October 6).  For those of you wanting to mark your calendars, the Palmyra Canaltown Days gig is on Sunday the 16th of September. We had to cancel I-Square as many of the members will be out of town and Mike will be out of the country. So the next gig will be July 14th at the Macedon Library at 2:00. We always need help during the summer months, so…. A surprise to all of us, we have already received a request for FOG to play at Bristol Valley Theatre on the 21st of October. And don’t forget the Fiddlers’ Fair in August. Stayed tuned!

What do you think of this year’s Summer Set Lists? At the jams recently, the group has been playing thru the tunes. Everyone says the tunes are easy to play so we should be in great shape for the summer gigs. To help folks get thru any problem tunes, the Board has decided to try something new; starting the first 30 minutes of every jam as an “off-speed” session. This will give members a chance every week to work on tunes they are learning, rather than waiting to the “slow-jam” nights. So just let the jammers know what you are working on and the group will play at whatever speed works for you. You certainly aren’t the only person working on that tune.

How many of you have gone to a music event recently – or are planning an activity sometime soon? How about jotting down a note for the Fiddletter? I know some of you go camping at festivals and sit around and jam, meet new folks, learn new tunes, etc. And then some of you even go to week long workshops. What is that like, hard work or fun? Do you meet some great players and good teachers? Did it make your playing easier? Were you self-conscious and felt like an outcast? Or heaven forbid – you found a good repair person that brought your _ _ _ _ _ _ back to life. Who was this wonder person? Just share some of the experiences you have been through – can even have been something from last year.music teacher

We mentioned in the last newsletter that the Board wants to put together a list of music teachers as a reference for all members. Know someone who teaches fiddle or mandolin or guitar or bass, or, heaven forbid – the banjo? Just let a board member know who YOU are talking lessons from. Maybe if you could tell us if the teacher likes beginner, or intermediate students or….we could start a list.

As we start into summer, get together with others and enjoy this music but don’t forget – Play Nice

FOG Tune Lyrics: Whiskey Before Breakfast

Contributed by Ray Ettington & Mike Deniz

music notes

A widely known tune, often mistaken for a traditional old‑time tune (it was even listed on one album as “an Irish tune which has been popular in America for a number of years”). It has generally been credited to the mid‑twentieth century by Manitoba, Canada, fiddler and composer Andy de Jarlis (known for his fine waltzes). “Whiskey Before Breakfast” was included in de Jarlis’ book Canadian Fiddle Tunes from Red River Valley (1957), where he is credited for the arrangement only.  According to Paul Gifford, the tune’s popularity in the United States is fairly recent, probably stemming from its inclusion on a Voyager Records LP called “More Fiddle Favorites,” by Canadian fiddle champion Lloyd Sexsmith, who probably learned it from de Jarlis. It is often used as musical accompaniment for the quadrille ‘Reel of Eight’ in Canada. Gibbons (1982) notes that “Whiskey” is a favorite of Metis (native American) dance troupes in Western Canada, and in this connection Gifford suggests that de Jarlis learned the tune from Metis fiddler Teddy Boy Houle’s father (de Jarlis himself had Metis blood). It seems that de Jarlis and the elder Houle were up playing till dawn with the aid of libation before finally passing out.  On finally awaking, de Jarlis remembered the last tune they played and perhaps gave it the “Whiskey” name. Perlman (1979) identifies it as coming from Canada’s Maritime provinces where it is called “Spirits of the Morning.” It has been pointed out by several sources that the ‘A’ section is similar to the older melodies “Liverpool Hornpipe,” “Great Eastern,” “Bennett’s Favorite” and the Irish reels “Silver Spire” and “Greenfields of America,” however, the original source for all these tunes may be “Speed the Plow.” (1)

Whiskey Before Breakfast Lyrics(2)

Early one morning ‘fore the sun could shine
I was walkin’ down the street, not feelin’ so fine
I saw two old men with a bottle between ’em
And this is the song that I heard them singin’

whiskey before breakfastChorus
Lord protect us, Saints preserve us
We been drinkin’ whiskey ‘fore breakfast

I passed by the steps where they were a’ sittin’
I couldn’t believe how drunk they were gettin’
I said “Old men you been drinkn’ long?”
“Long enough to be singin’ this song”

They handed me a bottle, said, “Take a little sip”
And it felt so good, I just couldn’t quit
So I took a little more, next thing I knew
There were three of us sittin’ there singin’ this tune

One by one everybody in town
Heard our ruckus and they all came down
Pretty soon all the streets were a-ringin’
With the sound of the whole town laughin’ and singin’

(1) The Fiddler’s Companion © 1996-2009 Andrew Kuntz
(2) Folk and Traditional Song Lyrics, http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk

Return of the Soloist

Contributed by John Piper

In the movie, ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ there was a scene where a lord is talking to his son.  ‘They said I was daft to build a castle in a swamp.  But I did it anyway.  It sank into the swamp.  So I built a second one.  It sank into the swamp.  The third one caught fire, fell over and then sank into the swamp but the fourth, the fourth stood up’.  It is a guy’s thinking like this that can only explain why I agreed to do a solo performance.  Again.  Even after the disasters of the third and the meltdown of the fourth previous performances.

But I had a plan.  The location was a major factor in the decision because it would be in Recitala church.  I envisioned an audience of grandmother type women all saying, bless his heart, no matter how poorly I played.  Secondly, I decided to play, ‘Amazing Grace’.  Not only a great church song but, a song contained in one octave.  Only two strings of the violin are used to play it.  And I memorized it.  The only (please note the simplistic thinking of the pre-performance view of the recital) challenge would be bow control making sure each note sounded clean.  Get up, play the song, bow and Bob’s your uncle.  It was a done deal.

Hard to believe but I didn’t even think about the recital during the day.  When work ended I had an hour or so before leaving to get in some last minute practice and since I have the keys to the electrical lab I also had a private place to play with some great acoustics.  After a few short strokes to get limbered up I played all three pieces I would be performing; one solo and two others with the group.  I managed to play as I expected.  Not as good as at home but for a strange place and just before the recital not bad.  I was ready to go.  I pulled into the church parking lot and it was packed.  There weren’t supposed to be hundreds of grandmother type people in the audience saying bless his heart, there were only supposed to be twenty of them.  Maybe ten.  Five if things were going my way.  Full blown panic set in.  Wait, wait, wait.  My mistake, we were in the church next door.  Who builds churches side by side?  I walked inside this church and there were maybe twenty people milling about.  I didn’t see the grandmothers yet.  I still hadn’t shaken that feeling of panic inside.  It should have been gone by now.  Deep breaths.  I just need to take a few deep breaths.  Envision a small church, bless his heart grandmothers, both of them.

I wander down the rows of pews until I found one way in the back to take out my violin.  I barely had time to take it out of the case when my teacher asked if she could tune it.  I’m in the remedial group where she still tunes my violin.  I think the only other violin she tunes is for the first grader.  Some people might consider this embarrassing whereas I look at it as a perk for her special students.  No time to think about it as she hustled us to the front for a group practice.  Here I am paired with the only other adult student which is good because he can actually count music so I just have to listen to him as we play and I will be good to go.  We rip off a rousing rendition of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’, which with all the different parts sounds surprisingly great in the church.  While I slipped up in a couple of places (I know, I know how could I mess up Twinkle) I felt pretty good.  We then played the second piece which is a fast pace fiddle song.  I kept up for the first half before realizing I just wasn’t going to make it.  No big deal because I had the option to skip out on this one, so one solo and one group piece to play.  At this point it was time for me to have a private practice session with our piano accompanist for my solo piece.  As we set up in a side chamber he asked what kind of intro did I want?  I said any kind as long as it was loud.  I not only came in at the right time of the intro but I wasn’t half bad.  In front of a stranger.  In the church.  I was shocked.  I might actually pull this off.  No, I meant this was going just like I expected.  No surprise there.  Now it is just a matter of time waiting for the show to begin.  I noticed my wife and son were sitting in the back so I went to join them.

The first performer was the little first grade girl, maybe three feet short.  If you were to Google the word ‘adorable’ the first thousand hits would be of her.  The next nine thousand would be of her with her teeny tiny violin.  My only amazing grace was I didn’t immediately follow her.  This was followed by other small children playing songs far more difficult than ‘Amazing Grace’ and doing amazing jobs.  One of the young ladies played a song almost completely of double stops.  A double stop means playing on two strings at the same time.  It is difficult and while I do that on occasion it is because I have slipped off the string I am supposed to be playing.

And now it was my turn.  I strode, literally strode to the front.  I expected to be more nervous but except for some pre-performance butterflies, the kind where you do projectile vomiting, I was doing a-okay.  As I reached the front I stepped confidently up the steps taking my place behind the music stand.  I tried to raise it but it wasn’t designed for someone of my height or anyone’s height over four feet.  No matter, I had the music memorized.  I raised my violin.  Set my bow.  Turned my head to the pianist and waited for the magic to begin.

amazing graceI nailed the intro.  I came in right where I was supposed to come in and who could screw up the first note?  It was an open string no fingering required.  The second note was a half note which all I had to do was keep the trembling out of the bow.  I managed to put the trembling in the bow.  On my next fingering I felt two strings.    In all humans, especially guys, there is something called the reptilian brain that is crucial for self-preservation.  Mine just went, “Uh oh”.  Uh oh?  I’m never, ever supposed to be on two strings in this song.  I snap my head around to look at the strings but my glasses are for distance not close up and my fingers are a blur.  Blur as in fuzzy not blur as in playing all sorts of fantastic notes at a rapid clip.  I look back to the sheet music but here’s a funny thing about panic.  Your body goes into this fight or flight mode and starts shutting down all sorts of unnecessary things like remembering memorized music, how to read music or even how to breathe.  My bow arm continued moving from muscle memory which would have been awesome if I was on the same strings my fingers were playing.  Well actually no, since my fingers were on the wrong strings.  I managed to play the entire piece to the refrain completely on wrong strings.

Amazing Grace – (not so much)
How sweet the sound – (not even close)
That saved a wretch like me – (well we got the wretch part right)
I once was lost but now I’m found – (nope, still lost)
Was blind but now I see – (no it’s all one big blurr)

The music repeats back to the beginning and it had to have been God who put my fingers back on the correct strings.  I actually managed to play the music correctly, well correctly for me, the second time through.  Lots of trembling and scratchy sounds but at least this time I was playing something that if you squinted and turned your head just right you might have recognize the tune.

I finished with a flourish four days after starting.  I bowed.  I turned to the pianist to acknowledge him.  I grabbed my music and headed to my seat.  I passed my teacher and she was giving me an emphatic thumb’s up.  The cynic in me was thinking she had to do that but then I realized she was giving me a thumb’s up for my deciding to sit down.

Now up pops a trio of little girls who played ‘The William Tell Overture’.  If I didn’t have such a pathetic performance I would have pointed out that the name was wrong and it really was the ‘Theme to the Lone Ranger’.  Hard to believe people trained in classical music could get that wrong.  Oh and to rub salt in the wound after they played the piece – perfectly.  They played it a second time at twice the speed.  And now we get to the meat of the line up as each performer is playing more and more complicated pieces.  This is capped with my teacher’s oldest daughter playing something that had to be fifty-seven pages long with the first measure having more notes than my entire song and it was outstanding.  I probably could have appreciated this more if I wasn’t in shock which meant I still had to go through denial, anger, depression before I accepted what happened.  There was a group play in there somewhere but I am fuzzy on the details.  On the way home I asked my son how I played.  He didn’t even think about it as he said, ‘You sucked’.  ‘You sucked big time’.  I’m glad he threw in the qualifier.  I mean you sucked is so undefined whereas you sucked big time leaves little doubt where you stood.

I know, I know.  You say I am exaggerating what happened.  Well that’s the wonderful thing about videos, they don’t lie.  The entire experience was ‘cringeworthy’.  That’s one word.  My own invention.  I am the son of an English teacher and I can do that and it captures the whole post-traumatic-stress-syndrome experience.  The easy solution would be to accept I am not cut out for public performances just as some people aren’t made for yoga stretch pants.  But I can fix this.  I’m a guy and we fix things.  I’m an engineer where we fix things that don’t need to be fixed.  I just made a few mistakes.  First thing – glasses.  I need to buy a pair of really cool glasses with a focal length of my violin neck.  The cool part will make me look like I belong up on stage.  The short focal length will not only allow me to see my fingering but make the audience fuzzy so I won’t know they’re there.  Next thing is to change the music.  What was I thinking in playing a slow piece with long controlled bow strokes?  I have no fine motor control.  I pick up rocks for a hobby.  Jazz.  I am going to play jazz.  It has short choppy strokes and the best, the best part is the music repeats itself at different scales, octaves or some musical term that I can’t remember.  So if hypothetically someone, not me but someone, were to get their fingers messed up on the strings it would appear they were changing keys in the music.  And if they did it randomly the performer would be improvising which is completely different than playing the wrong notes and they would be considered a gifted performer.  I am so not going to suck next time.  I’m going to have those bless his heart grandmothers dancing in their seats.

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