September 2018 Fiddletter

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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!

2018 Officers

BOD President: Tom Bailey
Vice-President: Kathy Schwar
Secretary: Jane Reetz
Treasurer: Greg Roat
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

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Visit the FOG website at

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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.)
  • September 7
  • September 21
  • September 28

Penfield American Legion Hall
1797 Old Penfield Road

  • September 14

FOG jam clipart - canstockphoto136796392018 Gig Schedule

  • September 6 – Canandaigua VA Hospital, 5:30pm
  • September 16 – Palmyra Canaltown Days, 11:30am
  • September 19 – Grande Vie, 6:00pm
  • October 6 – Ferris Hills, time TBD
  • October 21 – Bristol Valley Theater, time TBD
  • October 26 – Brockport Pioneer Day, Fred Hill School, 10am-2pm

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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