September 2020 Fiddletter

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Violin Lying on Red and Orange Autumn Leaves Background

President’s Remarks

by Tom Bailey

Five months and counting; how are you adjusting to the new “normal”? I have to admit getting together to make music has made daily life much better. Sharing time at small, socially-distanced jams has been great. A highlight for me was being part of the small groups formed on short notice who went out to play at Genesee Country Village. The response from the folks there has been really uplifting and now I have been told the event planners would like to do something similar during the Yuletide celebrations. Maybe something to look forward to in the not too distant future? We have been discussing the possibility of these small groups visiting senior centers and playing outside in courtyards that are open to a lot of the living units. Residents can be in their rooms and still be entertained by music outside their patios or porches. If you are with a small group, are you interested? If not in a group, get together with two or three other folks and you are ready to go. Live music transcends many of the day’s frustrations and difficulties to lift one’s spirits, if only for a short while. You have the opportunity to reach out and help someone.

Sara Hartman, Bob Hyder, Mike Deniz, Greg Roat, Bill Kraft and others have offered to hold jam sessions in their yards. So we are considering putting together a jam schedule and sending it out. But as explained before, we need to know who is interested in being part of these. We can’t just put out an open invitation as we don’t have a clue as to the mix of instruments who will attend. How many fiddles, guitars or mandos? Will a bass even be there? If there aren’t any fiddles to start tunes and play melody, it won’t be much of a jam session. If we have a list of folks who are interested, we can send out invites to them. Even that doesn’t always work, as I had to cancel a jam last Sunday due to lack of attending responses.

President Tom Bailey welcomed Rosie Newton to the FOG fiddle workshop held August 15th at the Fairport VFW.

Rosie Newton and Richie Stearns held workshops at the VFW pavilion on August 15, a great setting and a lot of fun with such prominent musicians who thrive on being able to present to folks in person. As Rosie explained, musicians live off the interaction with other folks, getting feedback in one form or another. Due to Covid, most musicians have not had the opportunity to be with people vs. performing/ teaching online. At the workshops, both musicians broke a tune into phrases and taught participants how to play the tunes and then how to add enhancements to make the tunes more like fiddle tunes. Rosie taught special approaches

Fiddle workshop attendees learning and making music safely by wearing masks and observing social distancing. 

for bowing, while Ritchie explained how, by playing by ear, one can find the melody notes on the fingerboard and fill them in with embellishments. In a survey done afterwards all but one attendee really enjoyed the event and wants them to come back for another workshop. Some attendees found it difficult to learn a tune without music to look at so, if we do another session, attendees will choose a tune from the FOG repertoire and Rosie and Richie will work with those tunes to review the playing of the tunes and adding ways to embellish the tunes to make them more exciting. There will be more focus on double stops, slides and special bowing techniques that Rosie didn’t get to cover due to VFW activities going on at the same time. Photos from the fiddle workshop are included in this Fiddleletter and excerpts from the workshop recording will be on the FOG website.

Normally we don’t promote websites but I have come across one that needs to be passed on. Peghead Nation is a website that offers professionals teaching lessons on most every type of instrument that we play, but in all genres of music. You can have Beginning Fiddle, Old Time Fiddle (Bruce Molsky), Bluegrass Fiddle, Cajun Fiddle, Jazz, etc. And there are courses for every way to play the guitar, mandolin (a LOT of different forms), and all forms of banjo playing. And it costs $20 a month, with no contract. Go through the list of lessons and tunes in each course, choose the lessons or tunes you want to work on, in any order. If you can’t do all in one month, go for a second. If you want a second course, it is only an additional $10 a month.

In the past, the Board has discussed allowing ads from members for items for sale. Mike is trying it out in this edition with a vintage violin outfit for sale. Do you have music-related items that need a new home, preferably instruments? Please let Mike know and he will work with Susan to include them in the Fiddletter.

We are moving out of summer into fall and we will see what new things await us. Get out and play with others — it will brighten your outlook. Above all, stay healthy!

 Until next timePlay nice!


Thank you, Richie Stearns!

by Micah Schmidt

Sponsored by FOG, Rosie Newton’s fiddle workshop and Richie Stearn’ banjo workshop were held August 15 at the Fairport VFW.

On August 15, ten F.O.G. members were treated to a wonderful clawhammer banjo workshop by the amazing Richie Stearns.  We are very lucky to have one of the best banjo players in the world living practically in our backyard.  Richie drove from Ithaca to provide us with some much-needed musical fun, and we were able to do this in a safe manner: outdoors, wearing masks, with a limited number of people, socially distanced.  It was so nice to see some of my musical friends after months of isolation!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Richie, be sure to check out his music — so much rhythm and groove, and his voice and songwriting are so good, with beautiful melody and harmony and powerful lyrics.  I love his work, including his solo albums and the Richie and Rosie albums.  You should buy them all!  Of course it is awesome to see him perform live, and that is part of the reason the workshop was a great learning experience.  Any chance to listen to and watch a master closely is time well spent.

Richie taught us two tunes by ear, phrase-by-phrase, with repetition, John Brown’s Dream and You Ain’t Seen No Trouble.  I think teaching and learning by ear is THE way to go, and am so proud of you all for not being afraid to try.  Traditionally this is the way fiddle tunes were passed on to others.

Thanks again to Richie for visiting us.  Thank you to F.O.G. for sponsoring this, with big additional thanks to the individuals who organized and set up the workshop.  I hope Richie can join us again soon!


Thinking of You

Contributed by B.J. Cunningham

BJ CunninghamI hope everyone is well and doing your best as we are on the horizon of six months of life changes due to Covid-19.  Certainly nothing to celebrate.  As summer draws to a close, there are activities that ordinarily we would be looking forward to starting.  Theater tickets, concert subscriptions, church choirs, choral groups, Naples grape festival, Hilton apple festival, State Fair, Golden Link Festival, and the Fringe Festival are only a few that come to mind.  I’m sure you can think of others.  Remaining hopeful that our lives will someday look like what we describe as “normal” is a challenge. I have been exploring many local and state parks over the summer and getting out in nature has been therapeutic.  Also, I listen to happy music and watch less news.  Make a point of finding something every day that gives you joy. The following should bring a smile.

🎻An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television, getting drunk, and smoking cigars.

🎻A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.

🎻A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

🎻An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

🎻Two quotation marks walk into a “bar”.

🎻A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intents and purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

🎻Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

🎻A question mark walks into a bar?

🎻A non sequitur walk into a bar.  In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

🎻Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar.  The bartender says, “Get out — we don’t serve your type.”

🎻A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.

🎻A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

🎻Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar.  They sit.  They converse.  They depart.

🎻A synonym strolls into a tavern.

🎻At the end of the day, a cliche walks into a bar–fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.

🎻A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting.  With a cute little sentence fragment.

🎻Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.

🎻A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.

🎻An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.

🎻The subjunctive would have walked into the bar owned by a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

🎻The past, present, and future walked into a bar.  It was tense.

🎻A dyslexic walks into a bra.

🎻A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate.  The noun declines.

🎻A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

🎻A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

🎻A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony.






HOPF VIOLIN (c. 1900) Outfit, includes case and bow.  Violin refurbished. Easy, trouble-free state-of-art interplanetary pegs. Inlaid tailpiece. Very good sound. Brazilwood bow of similar vintage, straight, 64 grams, good sound, freshly rehaired. Vintage case in very good condition. $600 firm. Mike 585.507.1323 (Perinton)


Jam Sessions


All Friday night jam sessions for September have been cancelled. However, there is opportunity to take part in small-group, socially-distanced jam sessions being held outdoors at the homes of FOG members. Contact Tom Bailey at for more information.  Are you interested in small-group, socially-distanced SLOW  jam sessions?  Please contact Pat Fink at

For the latest schedule changes, please see the Jam Sessions  page on the FOG website.



September Gig Schedule


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


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