Contributed by Tom Bailey
As I start to write this month’s comments I can hear the 30 mph winds whistling outside. How many tunes have been written about March winds? I can think of several folk songs of the ‘60s and some songs going back to the ‘20s. Can you believe we have already whisked through two months of 2020? I have always heard the older you get the faster time goes by; I can attest to that!
All of you who played at the Chili Library gig raise your hand. Now reach around and pat yourself on the back. Mike has placed some of the accolades on the FOG website. “Largest crowd ever at a Library event.” Another one, “Thank you, that was just what I needed today!” The standing room only crowd was slow to leave, staying to talk for thirty minutes or more with all the FOGgers who had entertained everyone so well. And June sold all the CD’s she had. A
true testament to the level of enjoyment came from Kelly’s grandmother telling the activities director at her senior center that they HAD to get FOG to come play for their residents. The following Monday we received an email asking about setting something up. All of our COP’s gig dates are already set but we are trying to work something out
with Brighton Summit. Kelly, please pass a “thank you” on to your family.
As we were setting up at Chili, I heard some folks talking about being nervous about playing. It was interesting because the week before I had listened to a podcast by Mike Block, internationally recognized cellist. He has played with orchestras around the world, played with Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall and played with many jazz, bluegrass and other genre bands. The podcast was about dealing with anxiety before a performance. Yep, someone at that level has performance anxiety. I won’t go into a lengthy dissertation but here are some snippets of his presentation: Don’t think about what you are doing. Remember to share in the socialization with the other musicians around you, as you are not alone; focus on those around you. If you start to panic, find a diversion that takes you to a safe place. Develop a routine that relaxes you, maybe the warm-up routine you have before you practice. If you don’t have one, develop one: gradual breathing, playing through scales and passages that you really like playing. Visualize yourself playing in that “zone” where you are most comfortable. And here is the interesting one – play “what-if” with your imagination. Think of what CAN go wrong and figure out what you would do IF it did happen. Focus on what you would do; think of improbable things that could happen and then determine what you would do to overcome these things. Think of the best, the worst, the most likely, something to think about while you practice.
Workshops. Yes, we have workshops planned. Based on survey responses, we are lining up some workshops. We have mentioned one, Rosie Newton coming on April 4th for a fiddle workshop. It works out for Richie Stern to hold an old-time style banjo workshop after Rosie’s. Go on line and look up Richie and Rosie and you will see the high level of musicianship they bring to their events. Another workshop requested was an Ensemble workshop for those wanting to learn how to play in small groups, which is MUCH different than playing in a FOG performance. Ben Proctor will be teaching that workshop. He has done several other workshops for FOG but never an ensemble one. This is what he teaches for the Kanack School. Details will be coming soon. Another one that was requested is a rhythm workshop, possibly tied to a mando and guitar workshop. I am talking with Ron Perry about that and we will work this out when they get back to town.
For those of you who weren’t members of FOG this time last year, Fiddlers of the Genesee holds a spring cabin party in the Pavilion Lodge in Ellison Park. Everyone brings food to share and we eat and play music for several hours. Every year, some members have formed small groups, duets or trios and played for all those enjoying the day. We are doing it again this year. FOG has rented the pavilion for May 3rd from 2:00 to 7:00. PLEASE mark your calendars now and save the date.
Another event FOG has taken part in for a few years is the Bernunzio Music sponsored Old Time/Bluegrass cruise on the Erie Canal. The boat, the Colonial Belle, has been reserved for the evening of June 1st. The cruise is always been a lot of fun; pizza is provided and bar service is available on board. This is a great time to bring along the family for a serenaded cruise down the Erie Canal. It is really neat to see people walking along the canal stop to listen and wave as we pass by.
One last item: We are are receiving requests for FOG to play a gig during a weekday, around 2:30 in the afternoon. Currently we have a request for April 9th at St. John’s Home. Can you play on that day? We really need some folks
Hope to see you at a jam soon –
Until next time … Play nice and play often!
Tune of the Month
Contributed by Mike Deniz
Click here for a printable PDF of Fire on the Mountain
How did Ashokan Music & Dance Camps Get Started?
By Jay Ungar
My deep connection to Ashokan’s hallowed ground began with the first Fiddle & Dance Workshop at the Ashokan Field Campus of SUNY New Paltz on Labor Day Weekend in 1980. The weekend sold out, thanks to the Green Grass Cloggers. Wherever the Cloggers performed, they talked up the camp and inspired folks to come learn and join in the fun.
The next year we tried a weeklong camp. During that week, two interest groups clearly emerged: those who love New England, Québécois and Scandinavian traditions and those whose love was Old Time, Appalachian and Cajun traditions. This led to the creation of Northern Week and Southern Week in 1982.
For me, the magic was somehow intensified that next summer and I found myself home in September floating on a cloud of utopian euphoria. As that cloud dissipated and I came back to the so-called “real world,” I felt a deep sense of loss and longing. This was the third year of a fragile experiment. Would we return to the music, the people, and the land next summer? Would the magic still be there?
I picked up my fiddle to soothe my aching soul and a tune came to me that instantly brought me to tears. I couldn’t tell if I was writing or remembering the tune, but I turned on a cassette recorder to capture the moment. That moment, as you’ve probably guessed, was the birth of “Ashokan Farewell.”
Is it coincidence, or synchronicity that creating Northern and Southern Weeks from the original Fiddle & Dance Workshop led to the tune that would become the theme of Ken Burns’ PBS series The Civil War? And that this tune’s now famous connection to the Civil War would lead to Molly and me being asked to perform Ashokan Farewell at Gettysburg on Remembrance Day, the year that New York’s Governor Pataki was the featured speaker. The tear in the Governor’s eye, as our music came to a close, told me how deeply moved he was by this simple tune.
The above article was contributed by Tom Bailey.
March Jam Locations
The Fiddlers of the Genesee will hold jam sessions, beginning at 7:00, at the following locations for March.
March 6 and 13, Fairport/Perinton VFW.
March 20 and 27, Penfield American Legion.