May 2020 Fiddletter

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President’s Remarks

Contributed by Tom Bailey


HelloMayI was talking to a good friend I have not seen for months and the first thing he said was, “Wow, what have we gotten ourselves into?” Times like these make you take another look at your priorities. Have you ever taken your health for granted? Don’t know about you but I am sure that I thought I was invincible — immortal ? — in my younger days. Now I really  appreciate every day I have. With that said, how are you all doing? I hope staying safe and staying healthy!

Have you come up with fun things to do to pass the time? I have been working from home for the past 34 days so there hasn’t been much free time. In fact, I think I spend more time working now than when I was going to the office. But I do keep instruments around me so if I want to take a break, there is some relief close by. And I do find myself taking glimpses of tunes on YouTube or watching some of the great webcasts that are coming out. Driving down the street last weekend, there was a family all dressed up in front of their house having their picture taken. A couple doors down, someone had put up their inflatable Christmas ornaments; I had to chuckle. Julie and I put a bunch of white lights in one of our trees and have already had comments about, how at night, the lights cheer folks up. I had one guy tell me that anytime they need to go to a grocery store, they go for a ride in the Finger Lakes. He said the scenery is really nice and there are a lot fewer virus cases there to encounter.  If you’re interested in doing some travelling but want to stay safe, check out this website, where you can take virtual tours of our national parks.  Virtual Visits | National Park Foundation

Have you done something you could share, maybe even some pictures? Hey Jane, I bet Tom has waxed his truck and you accompanied him with the mando! Bob,  have you been carrying your banjo out to serenade folks on the golf course? Bill & Loretta, any exciting occurrences on your wildlife trails? I do want to thank B.J. for all the fun communications she has been sending; it reminds us that someone is out there And always brings a good laugh – but enough with those banjo jokes! Guess I can’t say too much; I made the mistake years back of giving Mr. Hyder a book of 100 banjo jokes.

I don’t know if anything will come of it, but I am talking with Richie and Rosie about

Rosie Newton and Richie Sterns

doing virtual workshops. Think about it. Maybe you couldn’t play along so everyone can hear you but, with your mic muted, you can play along all day without ever having to worry about someone else hearing you! That way you can noodle all the time and no one can say STOP NOODLING. Maybe you can be like Greg and throw in extra chords that really sound great, but purists would say is wrong. If no one hears it,  who can say it is wrong? As Greg,  Mike and I have discovered, there is something called latency that keeps everyone from playing together on ZOOM, unless everyone has the same service carrier and the same equipment at home. Greg and I could actually play together, with both of us on Spectrum with standard equipment. But Mike, even though he is also on Spectrum, can’t play in time as he has a different  cable box in his house. That slows down the signal and no matter what, Mike can’t keep in time with Greg. It’s not just Mike, as I have tried this with a couple others and it didn’t work. Greg and I are on Wi-Fi, if you have internet service that is a whole ‘nother animal. With that, the farther you are away from someone else, the slower you will sound compared to them. But how do the musicians make it work on TV? Mike found out there are two ways. The main one is that all musicians can be recorded and then it is all played back at the same time. The other way is everyone has been set up with identical arrangements –  same carrier,  same equipment — and it comes out looking effortless.

Would you believe that if you are on the internet you can go buy a Jaminator Box? If everyone has this box, they can generally play together as this compensates for the variance, unless you are a couple time zones away.

So, if someone is on Spectrum Wi-Fi with standard equipment, let us know and we will see if we can make it work. If we come up with a few folks who can play together, then they can lead the jam, and everyone else plays along with their mics muted. Perfect for a slow jam, Pat? Who wants to try it?

I know, you’re probably thinking, “Tom sure has rambled on,” but I have one more thing. I am getting email from some of the folks we were scheduled to play for, asking if we can play as soon as they open up. I think any location we would play will be the type of place that will wait until it is safe to bring us in. Like the Macedon Public Library, or Ferris

FOG players and their audiences are looking forward to the end of the COVID-19 quarantine, when old time music and fun can once again be shared.

Hills — they aren’t going to bring in folks until they are comfortable with it.  The Fiddlers Fair might be a bit more difficult. But when the time comes, will FOG be ready? Not since the first Friday in March have we played together; it’s going on two months. Have you been practicing at all? The Board will be looking at new set lists next week at their virtual meeting. I am afraid that it will take three to four weeks to get ready to entertain folks. What do you think? Maybe just play along with the FOG CD?

Really looking forward to seeing you all and paying together again. Please stay safe and stay healthy.

Until then … Play Nice, Stay Safe!


FOG Tune of the Month: Grey Eagle

Contributed by Mike Deniz

Printable PDF of Grey Eagle



Thinking of You

Contributed by B. J. Cunningham


Greetings Fiddler friends,

At the end of another month of quarantine I hope you remain well and healthy.  I think we will all feel better when the days get warmer and we can resume gardening, golf, bike riding, boating, camping or whatever outdoor activities we enjoy.  I continue to feel the need to add some humor and distraction into our long days.  Keep practicing patience as well as your many instruments.  Peace. ~ B.J.

🎻 What happens if you play country music backwards?   Your wife returns to you, your dog comes back to life, and you get out of prison.

🎻 What’s the difference between a violin and a fiddle?   No one minds if you spill beer on a fiddle.

🎻 How do you make a million dollars playing a hammered dulcimer?   Start with two million.

🎻 Practicing social distancing guidelines, minimum safe distance between street musicians and the public:

  • Violinist: 25 feet
  • Bad violinist: 50 feet
  • Tone deaf guitar player who knows three chords: 75 feet
  • 15-year-old electric guitar player with Nirvana fixation: 100 feet
  • Bagpiper: 50 miles

🎻 Three violin manufacturers have all done business for years on the same block in the small town of Cremona, Italy.  After years of a peaceful co-existence, the Amati shop decided to put a sign in the window saying, “We make the best violins in Italy.”  The Guarneri shop soon followed suit, and put a sign in their window proclaiming, “We make the best violins in the world.”  Finally, the Stradivarius family put a sign out at their shop saying, “We make the best violins on the block.”

🎻 And for the nameless FOG banjo player who pointed out that I omitted a banjo joke on my last communication:

  • What did the banjo player get on his SAT exam?   Drool!
  • Why do some people have an instant aversion to banjo players?   It saves time in the long run!
  • Female five string banjoist shouting at her boyfriend in a crowded shopping mall: “Don’t forget sweetheart, I need a new G string!”

🎻 I love the way music inside a car makes you feel invisible; if you play the stereo at max volume, it’s almost like the other people can’t see into your vehicle.  It tints your windows, somehow. ~Chuck Klosterman

🎻 The true beauty of music is that it connects people.  It carries a message, and we, the musicians, are the messengers. ~Roy Ayers

🎻 C, E flat, and G go into a bar.  The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve minors,” and E flat leaves.  C and G have an open fifth between them and after a few drinks, G is out flat.  F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.  D comes into the bar and heads straight for the bathroom saying, “Excuse me, I’ll just be a second.”

A comes into the bar, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor and sends him out. Then the bartender notices a B flat hiding at the end of the bar and shouts, “Get out now!  You’re the seventh minor I’ve found in this bar tonight.”

The next night, E flat, not easily deflated, comes into the bar in a three piece suit with nicely shined shoes.  The bartender, who used to have a nice corporate job until his company downsized,  says, “You’re looking pretty sharp tonight.  Come on in.  This could be a major development.”  And in fact, E flat takes off his suit and everything else and stands there au natural.  Eventually, C, who had passed out under the bar the night before, begins to sober up and realizes in horror that he’s under a rest.

So, C goes to trial, is convicted of contributing to the diminution of a minor and sentenced to ten years of DS without Coda at an upscale correctional facility.  The conviction is overturned on appeal, however, and C is found innocent of any wrongdoing, even accidental, and all accusations to the contrary are bassless.

The bartender decides, however, that since he’s only had tenor so patrons, the soprano out in the bathroom and everything has become alto much treble, he needs a rest and closes the bar.




The History of Jefferson & Liberty

Contributed by William Breddy

Thomas Jefferson played the violin. Illustration by Randy Jones,

I thought I would share this with the FOG membership. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was the author of the Declaration of Independence and also the third President of the United States. But he was equally important — at least to us fiddle players — because he loved playing the violin and fiddle. As part of his early education, Jefferson was taught to play violin and read and write music. By the age of 14, he was writing down his favorite fiddle tunes and practicing up to three hours a day. He owned several violins and a pochette, a tiny travel-sized violin that could fit in a horse’s saddle bag or large coat pocket, that he took with him everywhere and played whenever he could.

The tune Jefferson & Liberty originated in Scotland and was known by several names, The Gobby-O or the Gabby Boy. It was a favorite of Jefferson’s and was often played as his campaign song when he ran for President in 1800. It’s been known as Jefferson & Liberty ever since, which seems a fitting way to honor the fiddling founding father of America. Even with its American name, it continues to be commonly played by fiddlers in west central Ireland — the counties of Kerry, Cork, and Limerick — where slides and polkas are particularly popular in Trad sessions.



FOG Members Share Quarantine Entertainment


Elaine Shengulette

I heard the poem The Touch of the Master’s Hand  put to music years ago and think it is beautiful. Just thought I’d share it with everyone.  Click here to listen to The Touch of the Master’s Hand by the Booth Brothers.

Rosko Holmquist

Local fiddler/violinist and nyckelharpa player Alyssa Rodriquez recently performed a virtual nyckelharpa concert sponsored by the Little Theater Cafe. Scroll down a bit to get

The self-portrait cover of Alyssa Rodriguez’s recently released EP Chicory.

to the concert post. Alyssa teaches privately and at the Kanack School of Music.

Peter Hedlund  is a Swedish Riksspelman, meaning Fiddler of the Realm, a national recognition given to Sweden’s top musician. He has performed at the Jamestown Scandinavian Festival many times over the years and we have become friends and jammed together. He is a retired carpenter and wood worker. He also builds nyckelharpas.  Visit his facebook page, Peter Puma Hedland, to learn more about Peter and the nyckelharpa.

Tom Bailey

I know FOG is about old time fiddle music but some folks like bluegrass. For them, there is a great documentary called Bluegrass Journey. It costs $7.99 to download for enjoyment at any time. Half of it is filmed at New York’s Grey Fox Festival – one of the largest in the country.

Bill Kraft

Listen to the song Life Gets Tee-jus, Don’t It? ,  which was recorded in 1948. The lyrics reflect how a lot of us are feeling during this pandemic quarantine, when life at times feels a little “tee-jus”.


May Jam Locations


All jam sessions for May have been cancelled. For the latest schedule changes, please see the Jam Sessions  page on the FOG website.


May Gig Schedule

BVT sign
All gigs for May have been cancelled. For the latest schedule changes and maps to gig locations, please see the Event Calendar on the FOG website.


Elegant lettering Happy Mother's Day in flower frame. Happy Mother's Day Card. Vector floral wreath

Grey Eagle

Jefferson & Liberty

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

The Touch of the Master’s Hand, the Booth Brothers

Life Gets Tee-jus, Don’t It?

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