May 2018 Fiddletter

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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.

2018 Officers

BOD President: Tom Bailey
Vice-President: Kathy Schwar
Secretary: Jane Reetz
Treasurer: Greg Roat
Elaine Chandler
Mike Deniz
Ray Ettington
Pat Fink
Diana GreenNewsletter Editor: Mike Deniz (temp)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

  • 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 – Rte 31F
(also known as the Macedon Ctr. Rd.)

  • May 4
  • May 11
  • May 18
Penfield American Legion Hall
1797 Old Penfield Road

  • May 25

musician-clipart-92018 Gig Schedule

**No gigs scheduled for May**

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
      2. Encouragement of musical development
      3. Non-competitive fellowship
      4. Acoustic instrumentation
      5. 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:

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