Lots of folks fiddling around
Click on the soloists name above and it will bring you to their bio, photo, concert poster, and website if applicable.
Harold Luce was born to a central Vermont farm family and grew up in a world where playing the fidldle was a part of everyday life. As a teenager, too shy to perform publicly, he would sit behind the piano and discreetly play along with legen dary fiddler Ed Larkin. One night at a kitchen junket (an old-fashioned hosue party) that Larkin couldn't attend, Harold was asked to take Ed's place. He wound up both playing the music and calling the changes, no mean feat for a 16-year-old. It was the beginning of a long career of music-making.
Fiddle music is an irrepressible force in Harold's life; he has played in every conceivable setting, from the kitchens of Tunbfidge and Chelsea to the Smithsonian Institution's Festival of American Folklife and two New York World's Fairs.
Harold is still playing at 86 [now 94 as eight years have passed since this article was written]. He and his band perform every week at senior centers and nursing homes, and his living room is filled with trophies from fiddling competitions around the Northeast. He is a dedicated teacher as well as performer, sharing his knowledge and artistic skills with nearly 30 students each year.
Harold Luce and his music exemplify the rural culture of Vermont, a culture that remains alive and vital today because of dedicated folk artists like Harold. Vermont is richer for their efforts.
A 2008 Massachusetts Artists' Fellow in the Traditional Arts for fiddling, Donna Hébert was a pioneer in the Boston contradance revival, cofounding seminal dance band Yankee Ingenuity in the 1970s and running the Monday Scout House contradance for ten years. Winning an INDIE Award for 'Best String Band' for her Flying Fish recording with edgy all-women's group Rude Girls in the 1980s, in the 1990s Donna formed Franco-American heritage group Chanterelle with iconic Franco singer Josée Vachon, recording tracks with them for a Smithsonian- Folkways anthology, Mademoiselle, voulez vous danser?" "Donna's fiddle speaks fluent français," says Boston Globe columnist and NPR commentator Scott Alarik. Chanterelle performs in the northeast and are regulars at the Blackstone River Theatre in Rhode Island. In 1999, Donna founded Groovemama with Albany NY fiddler Jane Rothfield. Groovemama performs and teaches for festivals and camps and plays for concerts in the Northeast. In 2005 she formed The Beaudoin Legacy with Beaudoin family and friends to document, present and preserve the music of Vermont's Beaudoin family. Funded through the NEA's American Masterpiece Roster, the group has performed at major festivals in the Northeast. Donna also performs in a Celtic/French-Canadian music duo with guitarist Max Cohen, featured on her new "In Full Bloom" CD of French-Canadian fiddling. Max and Donna are joined by Donna's daughter, Molly Hebert-Wilson, and fiddler Katherine First in their new Celtic and contemporary group, Mist Covered Mountains.
Rick's love of music started with his family. Learning numerous instruments he new early on the piano was his passion. Rick started playing keyboard in a band at the age of 17 and continued for 18 years. He soon created a style of back up piano playing that has been admired throughout his musical journey. Along with his style is his quick ear for following and his ability to not only hear the changes of a song but feel the dynamics of the performer making him the most requested backup piano player in New England. He and his family have been involved with the Northeast Fiddlers Association for many years. Rick has been a member of the North American Fiddle Judges Association since mid-1980s serving as Secretary-Treasurer and President at various times. Rick has won dozens of fiddle contest awards and judged various contests throughout the United States including the National Old Time Fiddle Contest in Weiser Idaho in 2006. Currently, he is playing in his own band (Madonna & The Boyz). Rick has been the Co-Chair for the Northeast Regional Old-Time Fiddlers Contest in Barre, VT and is especially well known for his great style of piano accompaniment throughout New England and Canada.
David Gusakov, a 1971 graduate of Yale University, moved to Vermont in 1973, when he joined the Vermont Symphony and Pine Island, a bluegrass and swing band. In the years since he has been a full-time musician as conductor (Vermont Youth Strings, Amateur Musicians Orchestra, Champlain Philharmonic Orchestra), performer (38 years with Vt. Symphony, also Banjo Dan and the Midnight Plowboys, others), teacher (music faculty at Middlebury College for 12 years), and recording artist (with many local musicians). He has recorded and played at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart concert series with Scottish singer, Jean Redpath. He also appeared on stage with Smokey Robinson, John Denver, Peter Rowan and was on Prairie Home Companion with Patty Casey. Currently he plays jazz and swing with the Will Patton Ensemble and Swing Noire, Franco-American music with Michele Choiniere, and teaches classical violin in his private studio in Bristol, Vermont.
Beth Telford began studying the violin at the age of eight, eventually serving as the concertmaster of the Rhode Island Youth orchestra and the Rhode Island All-state orchestra. She was invited to play with the Brown University Orchestra at the age of fourteen, as well as to play in a quartet with the orchestra’s conductor, Dr. Martin Fisher. She declined the latter opportunity; although she loved the instrument, she was not enamored of the type of music she was playing. In her late teens and early 20’s, Beth finally had her first introduction to the world of traditional fiddle music. She began to play at coffeehouses and dances throughout New England, and was twice invited to perform at the Eistedfod Festival in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Armed with a degree in Natural Resources, Beth moved to Vermont in 1983, and soon began playing with the bands Cabin Fever, Northern Spy, the Fiddleheads and in various other duos and trios. However, wildlife study was dominant in her life at this point. A musical hiatus began when she moved to Boise, Idaho in 1989 to pursuer her master’s degree in Raptor Biology, leaving behind her horses, new husband (of one month) but not her dog! Luckily for her sanity, the horses, other dog, and her husband came the following year, because Beth's chronic aversion to the computer prevented the completion of her Master's degree until 1996. Long before then, it had become apparent that they missed the community life of VT, especially the vibrant musical scene. Returning to VT in 1996, Beth quickly resumed friendships with her musical pals, two of whom introduced her to the music of legendary Cape Breton fiddler Jerry Holland. She quickly realized that this was the style of music that she wanted to play. Since then, she has devoted her efforts to learning the Cape Breton style and passing it along to her scores of fiddle students. She struck up a friendship with Jerry in 2001 and studied and worked with him until his death in 2009 (including a multi-year apprenticeship, supported, in part, by the Vermont Folklife Center). Beth continues to run a twice yearly Cape Breton fiddle and dance camp that she began with Jerry in 2002. Beth teaches fiddle in Sharon, Montpelier, and Braintree, VT and has been performing in a duo with guitarist/vocalist Jim Green since 2006.
Carol started singing and playing guitar with her father when she was seven, in a corner of their New Jersey living room prior to moving to Takoma Park, MD. While working across the river in Greenwich Village, he was deeply drawn to the dynamic music scene of the Village and at home showed Carol many traditional and new songs. Music played often on the radio, on recordings, and on his guitar, her favorite, which he then taught her. She soon began playing and singing along, and later writing songs of her own.
She fell in love with bluegrass and found her way into the local bluegrass scene from one of her ninth grade teachers, joining his Gold Watch Band. Whenever she could get a ride, she also headed to the Englishtown Music Hall towards the Pennsylvania border to see bluegrass legends like Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley. After moving to the musical haven of Takoma Park, Maryland, she sang lead and harmony with several bands in Maryland and Virginia. All three of Carol's Takoma Park duet singing partners, Karen Collins, Eleanor Ellis and Ed Schaeffer, are among the harmony singers on Carol's CD Still Hear Your Voice. Since moving to Montpelier, Carol has been performing around Vermont.
David Kaynor began playing fiddle in 1974, and started calling local contra dances in Western Massachusetts around 1980. Over the last two decades, he has become increasingly involved as both fiddler and caller in the New England and national contra dance scenes. He has been on staff at Northern Week at Ashokan 22 times, at Contra Dance Musicians' Week at the John C. Campbell Folk School 8 times and at Northeast Heritage Music Camp in Johnson Vermont 6 times. He has also played for and taught dancing at Pinewoods, Buffalo Gap, Mendocino, the Lady of the Lake, Ogontz, Summer Acoustic Music Week, Suttle Lake, Wannadance Uptown and a myriad of other camps, workshops and music events around the country.
David has been to Sweden several times and has played with many Swedish Fiddlers and folk musicians in Sweden and in the United States over the years. He knows countless numbers of tunes and thankfully shares his knowledge with others through workshops and jam sessions and performances. As he states in the description on his website, www.davidkaynor.com, , about his experience in Sweden, “rather than spend money I didn't have on costly classes with big-name musicians, I found myself falling in love with the music of the local musicians' groups and getting most of my repertoire, stylistic influence, and overall inspiration from them in their own surroundings.”
Roger has been playing fiddle for many years and frequently performs locally for various societies, business conventions, conferences, festivals, parades, fairs, church, and community events in Vermont. He has also been a guest fiddler at various events out of state and country including the Fiddler’s Hall of Fame, at Osceola NY.; and the Fiddlers and Followers Weekend at Rainbow Valley, Prince Edward Island Canada. In 2009 he was a cast member in the movie “The Summer of Walter Hacks” playing background music and performing in the fiddle contest seen. He recently released his 1st CD titled “Memories”.
Sarah Hotchkiss, VFO director and founder 2003 - 2013, is a native Vermont fiddler/banjo player who has been teaching in Northern Vermont since 1988. She currently teaches fiddle and banjo at her private studio, Woodbury Strings, in Montpelier, VT (woodburystrings.com) and is on the facutly of Northeast Heritage Music Camp. Previous appointments include nine years as Strings Teacher in Northfield Public Schools (K-12), six years as teacher, Department Chair, Camp Director, and Ensemble Director at the Monteverdi Music School, and three years as Viola Instructor at the Lake Champlain Waldorf School. She has led several ensembles and workshops and has coordinated and taught numerous fiddle camps for adults and children which have included many prominent Vermont and New England Fiddlers on the staff. As a performer, she currently splits her performing time between the Damn Yankee String Band; High-Low-Jack, (both old time groups) and Cariad (Welsh Traditional). Before turning primarily to fiddling, she played viola with the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra, Rosewood Strings, and numerous other classical orchestras throughout the New England area. Now a frequent trophy winner at fiddle contests, she combines her various experiences to give the her students the perfect blend of ingredients needed to grow musically in whatever direction they wish.
Ann Whiting is a bright and energetic dancer with a love of dance and an infectious enthusiam that attracts people of all ages. Ann has performed with the Green Mountain Cloggers and Kitchen Sync Cloggers. She has been clogging and stepdancing since 1979. Ann studied with stepdancers Lisa Beaudoin and Benoit Bourque (French Canadian), Judy Waymouth (Ottawa Valley), and Mary Janet MacDonald (Cape Breton.) Ann is endlessly creative as a choreographer, teacher, and stylist, but it is as a soloist that she really shines; that is where her love of stepdance is so strikingly apparent. Her creations are so engaging and so much fun to watch that you might just forget to notice that they are also intricate and sophisticated works of performance art.
Andy Stewart (fiddle) & Mary Jo Slattery (guitar, vocals, 'ti fer) perform music from several roots traditions, including the exuberant soulful two-steps and waltzes of Cajun Louisiana, the upbeat fiddle tunes of French Canada and New England, and the occasional southern mountain ballad Recognized by Louisiana's Cajun French Music Association for the authenticity of their style and repertoire, Mary Jo and Andy have performed in festivals, concert halls, schools, libraries, and nursing homes from southwest Louisiana to northern New England, as well as foreign venues, including Canada, Mexico, Cayman and Jamaica. When not performing as a duo, these two versatile musicians play with the NH Council on the Arts accredited Cajun band, The Offshore Aces, and also with the NH and VT based contra dance band Northern Spy, selected for inclusion in the Smithsonian Folkways CD on New Hampshire social dancing titled "Choose Your Partner!"
Hillary Barcomb was our featured dancer during our spring 2009 performance. She directs the Green Mountain Cloggers Exhibition Dance Team that began in May of 1992. WThey are a non-profit organization of 40 active members and growing. They pride ourselves in giving BACK to Vermont and it's communities. Their organization is always accepting new members of all ages! Their mission is to provide quality clogging instruction and enjoyable,wholesome, family-oriented entertainment; to promote self-esteem, build self-confidence and develop relationships. Their goal is to assist all dancers to be the best they can be. They have performed at state fairs and small town festivals all over Vermont, and for private clubs such as Elks, VFW, American Legion, and Moose club, and for state grange's all over, as far south as Manchester, and as far north as Swanton! Their organization also competes in VT at various fundraising events to support programs for the needy. Since this group began it has been directed by their lead chorepgrapher and instructor Hillary Barcomb, who at the time was 13 and was a second place winner in the national freestyle clogging championships in Durham N.C. She has danced with the "ADIDAC cloggers", "Northern Lights" and the well known competetion group, the "New England All Stars" who traveled the USA performing and competing. She in her thirties and continues to choreograph, instruct, and direct this organization.
Susannah Blachly is a fiddler, tunesmith & singer/songwriter from Marshfield, VT. She has performed with numerous bands over the years (Bellatrix, Wagtail, The Gross Domestic Products and, currently, Two Shoes Off) at a wide variety of venues including the Champlain Valley Folk Festival, the New World Festival and Valley Stage Festival. She has released four CDs of all original material and twice ranked on the Top Ten Best VT CDs of the Year in Seven Days, VT’s premier arts weekly. Robert Resnik, host of VPR’s “All The Traditions”, describes Blachly as “a master composer and performer of many styles of music.” In 2005 SingOut! magazine published her song “Secret Place” and featured it on a compilation disc with such folk luminaries as Pete Seeger and Maria Muldauer. That fall she had the honor of sharing the stage (and a couple of songs) with Canadian folk legend Bruce Cockburn at the North Of Eden retreat center. In 2005, her song “The Line Between” was named Song of the Year by Vermont Public Radio. Her most recent solo recording, “All The Colors” was released in August 2010 and features many well-known Vermont musicians. Susannah’s songs have been covered by Vermont artists Rebecca Padula (After Rain), Karen McFeeters (Hope Begins in the Dark), and Mayfly (Honey Man). Her songs Take What You Need and The Line Between are featured on the film “Shout It Out,” produced by Kingdom County Productions. Susannah has also been a guest musician on numerous recordings over the years, including Kristina Stykos’ “In The Earth’s Fading Light,” Rebecca Padula’s “Fire and Water,” Karen McFeeters’ “Here and Now,” Lewis Franco’s “Swingin’ In Daddyland” and, most recently, Patti Casey’s 2010 release “Heart of a Waiting Boy.”
GEORGE WHITE lives in an old farmhouse in the hills of Tunbridge VT, and that’s where his inspirational guitar, octave mandolin and vocal parts for WAGTAIL first find voice. George is responsible for much of the unique Celtic groove, rock rhythms and raw passion that shapes the WAGTAIL sound. Steeped in the music of Appalachia, blue grass, blues and western swing as a kid, he went on to play many folk and rock gigs around Massachusetts in his early twenties. He returns now to professional music making, after a long hiatus of homesteading and soaking in the cadences of the local fiddling styles.
Neil Rossi hails originally from the Boston, Massachusetts area. He grew up during the "folk scare" of the late 50's and early 60's, and was first exposed to folk music by groups like The Kingston Trio and The Limelighters. His grandfather was an Irish fiddler, and his mother had played piano and accordian for Irish Ceilidh bands in Boston before she married. His father had often earned a few extra bucks playing piano in speakeasies during the Prohibition era. Neil learned many Irish fiddle tunes and airs from his mother, while also continuing to play popular folk music and 50's rock'n'roll. "Both my parents played piano, though they tended to play more popular music and show tunes. But there was always music around the house."
His life changed in 1960 after hearing The Osborne Brothers play on Wheeling, West Virginia radio station WWVA. "WWVA was right next to one of the popular Boston rock'n'roll stations on the dial and I tuned it in by accident while the Saturday night WWVA Jamboree was on. It just mesmerized me. I thought that was the coolest sound I'd ever heard. I didn't even know what the music was called, but I knew I had to play it," says Neil. He annoyed his parents mercilessly until they bought him a banjo. "I started searching the radio dial for country stations late at night when the signal would reach all the way up to Boston. I'd stay up till three in the morning so I could pull in WCKY in Cincinatti, some of the Canadian stations, maybe listen to Lee Moore's late-night show on WWVA, and sometimes even get WSM in Nashville. It was an education."
Using a Pete Seeger banjo instruction book, and an Earl Scruggs record slowed down to 16 r.p.m., he spent hours every day learning three-finger picking. Later, he bought a mandolin and, in 1964, began learning fiddle after being given an instrument that had belonged to his grandfather.The group won the Grand Champion Old Time Band trophy at the Union Grove (NC) Fiddler's Contest in 1970 and later that year made the first album recorded by the Rounder record label.
In 1966 he formed The Spark Gap Wonder Boys, an old-time band that played frequently around colleges and coffeehouses in the New England area. This group won the Grand Champion Old Time Band trophy at the Union Grove (NC) Fiddler's Contest in 1970 and later that year made the first album recorded by the Rounder record label (Cluck Old Hen [RR-0002]). Over the years Neil has also played and recorded with The David Bromberg Band, The Yankee Rebels, Diamonds In The Rough, Bob Yellin & The Joint Chiefs Of Bluegrass, and Two Chord Jones, among others.
What people don't usually know about Neil is that he has two Master's degrees, completed all the coursework for a Ph.D. in physics, and has a 4th degree black belt in Taekwon-Do (Korean karate). Neil plays mandolin and fiddle and sings baritone and lead with Big Spike. His primary mandolin is a blonde F-5 copy made by P. W. McKinley in 1985. His main fiddle is a Hopf. He lives in Westford, Vermont.
Iain MacHarg plays highland pipes, smallpipes, french pipes, border pipes, smallpipes, flute, whistle and bodhran. He has been a familiar face at highland games since very early in his life. As his father is one on the premier bagpipe builders in the world, it is no surprise that Iain developed into a well respected and accomplished player. He was promoted to the professional grade after earning the title of EUSPBA 2001 Grade One Season Champion. Throughout his life, he has received his instruction from a variety of teachers; the majority of his early instruction was provided by P.M. George F. Ritchie. More recently, Iain has studied with Bruce Gandy, Scott MacAulay, Jack Lee, Jack Taylor and Andrew Wright, but is currently studying with Donald Lindsay.
In addition to competing as a solo piper, Iain has also been involved in many other aspects of Celtic music. He has founded three Highland Pipe Bands in Vermont (Catamount Grade 3 & 4, the Green Mountain Highlanders) and has played with several folk groups. Iain’s solo album, Rooted in Tradition, and his Christmas Album, Celtic Christmas, are sold in many areas of the world. Iain has also published Feadan Mor, a collection of original tunes for the bagpipe.
After completing his Masters of Education at the University of Vermont in 1997, Iain applied his education in a way that his professors never would have imagined. He began to develop the Vermont Institute of Celtic Arts. Iain’s goal is to develop this school into one similar to the College of Piping in Prince Edward Island. Iain holds the senior certificate and the teaching certificate from the College of Piping, PEI. He won 4 out of 9 categories in the 2008 EUSPBA composing contest. He currently works as Vermont’s only full-time piping instructor, and is also a music professor at Norwich University. In addition to his approximately 90 solo students, Iain also teaches group and band workshops.
I was born in Louisville, Ky. and always liked music of most any kind. An elderly gentleman in town made me a 5-string banjo ( complete with a "Gibson" decal pasted on the peghead )and I tried to be Earl Scruggs , or Grandpa Jones. My friend, Harry Lewman, had a guitar, and he was trying to be Leadbelly. We had a great time playing together. I also played " 2nd banjo" in the Dee Wells Tenor Banjo Band, led by Dee Wells himself, who taught me to read the treble clef. We had an extensive repertoire of pre-rock and roll era tunes.
After college, I met some long-lost cousins in Keene, N.H.,worked for Mr. Waldo Emerson Stone in Greenfield, N.H., and became a Yankee. When Uncle Wally found out I wanted to play the fiddle, he dug out his old violin and gave it to me. I could not make much of it for several years, until I met the Henrie Family in Canandaigua, N. Y.,where I was working. They showed me how to play old-time fiddle. (I believe the Henrie's, all talented musicians, played music non-stop, all day long, every day, all the time, all year long.)
Eventually, via Quebec, I ended up in Franklin Co. ,Vt. where I met Don and Pat Bernard, Ron and Betty West, and their many friends. There was music every Friday night at either Don and Pat's in Georgia, or Ron and Betty's in Richford. This was alot of fun, and after awhile, I could see that they did not want to learn to play like somebody from Kentucky, so I learned to play, more or less, like a proper French Vermonter.
John brings more than forty years of experience to his teaching. His teaching and professional experience in music dates back to his high school years when he began to play and teach the guitar. Over the years, John has played jazz, rock and country guitar in his distinctively personal style. John developed a keen interest in Irish and other Celtic traditional music in 1986 with a special interest in the music of Wales. In 1989, he took up fiddling and has devoted himself almost exclusively to its study ever since. John describes his fiddle style as “Yankee Independent”, a lively blend of Celtic, French Canadian, and American Old-time styles and repertoire. His many compositions for the fiddle comprise a fine distillation of this rich mix of influences.He currently plays with the Damn Yankee String Band and also performs a solo act on guitar as "Johnny Blue, Guitar Man", featuring blues, jazz and American roots music. John combines his mastery of harmony and theory with his broad knowledge of traditional music to create many of the distinctive arrangements used by the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra.
Upright Bass (multi-instrumentalist)
Born and raised in Montpelier, Michael has been playing music since 1961. His first public performance was in 1970 with John Stacey (former director of the Montpelier Coffeehouse) as a duo. In 1973 along with Gale Harris, Mark Legrand, and Fiddlin' Slim Baker formed the band “Something Quick” which played in the local area clubs for the next seven years and would eventually include local favorites such as David Lovald, Penny Towers, Steve Young, Jefferson Dorsey and Paul McAu1iffe. Later he played bass with the Bluegrass bands, Flaky Fingers and Steel Rail, while adding fiddle, mandolin and tenor banjo playing to his repertoire. Currently he plays with “Meg's Kitchen, an Irish trio; “Damn Yankee String Band, (Old Time, Vintage Country, Hillbilly Jazz)” and devotes most of time to his newest trio “Big Hat, No Cattle” (Western Swing) as well as repairing fretted instruments in his home business called North Branch Instruments in Montpelier, Vermont.
Sarah Blair began playing Irish fiddle in Providence, Rhode Island's thriving traditional Irish music scene. She honed her playing as a sought-after session leader in Boston and in the world of American contra dancing. With her band The Sevens and with other ensembles, Sarah has played at festivals, concerts, and dance weeks from Alaska to Quebec to Florida. Her most unusual gig was filling in for fiddler Liz Carroll for a portion of The Eagles' singer Don Henley's 2000 tour. In 2001, the Sevens were featured on NPR in an interview with Noah Adams. She is included in "Handy with the Stick: Fiddler Magazine's Best of Irish fiddling," a forthcoming book profiling top Irish fiddlers by Brendan Taaffe. "Sarah Blair is simply a great fiddler. Her combination of grit and control makes for music with drive, lift, and a compelling earthiness." - Fiddler Magazine
Spencer Lewis’ music is the sum of many parts: acoustic steel-stringed guitarist, folksinger-songwriter, fiddler, violinist, and composer. His prolific 15 CD catalog of instrumental music has sold over 120,000 units since 1988 making him one of the most successful independent, self-produced recording artists in the country. Lewis possesses a signature sound that combines the detailed precision of the acoustic guitar along with the sustained elegance of the violin - often played together on stage using the latest in looping technology. His music described as "simple, yet profound” (Silo Distributors) draws from influences of American Folk, Old-Time, Celtic, and Classical Music. He creates a comfortable and accessible kind of ‘back porch’ feeling with melodies and emotions that wrap around the soul like a blanket. Spencer plays throughout the northeast and his music has won awards and has been featured on film soundtracks.
Ron West grew up in the era when kitchen dances--known as junkets or tunks--regularly brought farm neighbors together to socialize and make music. Ron's mother played the parlor organ and his father and uncle were fiddlers. Ron talks about learning mostly from observation, by watching and listening. By the time he was fifteen, he, too, was playing for kitchen dances. Over the intervening years, Ron has hardly put his fiddle down, playing in a variety of bands, informally with friends, in solo concert, and for his own enjoyment. A shy, unassuming person, he has accumulated shelves of fiddling competition trophies and is widely recognized as an outstanding old-time fiddler.
Ron is not just a fine musician, he's a master traditional artist. This means that Ron's music is linked to--and, in a sense, an expression of--the time-honored life-ways of rural Vermont. In addition to the pleasure we take in the music itself, Ron's playing links us to a world where farm neighbors were bound together in a common occupation; where Ron's father met a neighbor with a load of furniture and bought a fiddle, passing instrument and payment from wagon to wagon on the tines of a pitchfork. Ron's music brings this world into our midst.
Through the Vermont Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program and private lessons, Ron has offered promising young musicians something he never had: the opportunity to train with a master musician. As Ron's most recent apprentice, Rachel Hayes, recently observed: "He's really down to earth and he talks to me like we're equals. When I go to practice it's not really a practice, it's like we're playing together for fun. It's fun for him so it's fun for me."
That's Ron all over. He's quite simply one of the warmest, most laid-back guys in the world and anyone who knows him will say the same. But when it comes to music he's serious, disciplined, and, if you will, passionate. Take a moment to imagine five-year-old Ron sneaking in to hold his father's violin because of the powerful attraction it held for him. In the next moment imagine that same attraction flowing through seventy years of continuous music making, enriching not only Ron's experience but the lives of everyone his music touches.
Note: It was a very sad day for all of us in 2012 when Ron West passed away. The Vermont Fiddle Orchestra hosted a concert in collaboration with the New Engalnd Fiddler's Associaiton on July to pay tribute to his life and the great gift of music that he gave us. Thank you, Ron. We miss you!
Scott was born in beautiful Central Vermont, where he grew up in a musical family. His father and older brother were classically trained as violinists. Scott’s sister is a highly gifted pianist, and his mother plays keyboard instruments also. Scott is completely untrained, yet he is a highly skilled musician. Scott was playing musical instruments from the age of 18 months. At the age of 10 years, Scott took up the fiddle and learned to play strictly by ear. He listened to recordings of great North American fiddlers and learned the tunes as he listened to them. Within a year, Scott was competing and prevailing against adult amateurs and professionals alike, When Scott was 12 years old, he was approached by the late, great Canadian Champion Fiddler, Graham Townsend, who wanted Scott to accompany him on his world tour as his protégée. Unfortunately for Scott, his parents thought staying in school was more important.
At the tender age of 13, Scott was being hired as a studio musician to back up singers with his fiddle. At the age of 14, Scott was fortunate to be able to perform in a show with some of the big stars such as Vassar Clements, Earl Scruggs, Johnny Hartford, and Grandpa Jones & Mini Pearl of Hee - Haw fame. During the same year, Scott was flown to New York City by Ed McMahon to appear on a morning television show. Over the years, Scott became a multi-instrumentalist and a composer of many fiddle tunes and music of other styles including Country, Pop, Rock, Classical and Classical Pop. Scott has been performing as a solo act and with several groups playing different genres. He is also in demand as a studio musician, recording engineer and record producer. As of late, Scott has composed, arranged and performed fiddle, piano, guitar, keyboard and mandolin parts for various artists around the globe.
Scott currently has three albums full of original tunes available on CD’s. He has also produced a series of fiddle lessons on CD, called “The Rising Fiddler”, which have been a real hit with those who want to learn and progress on the fiddle.
Raised on a diet of Broadway show tunes, operatic arias and British invasion melodies, PETE SUTHERLAND discovered both traditional music and songwriting in college and like Huck Finn "lit out for the territories". A warm-voiced singer and multi-instrumentalist known equally for his potent originals and intense recreations and ago old ballads and fiddle tunes, his performances "cover the map" and . . . . . ". . . . shine with a pure spirit, which infuses every bit of his music and cannot fail to move all who hear him". The American Festival of Fiddle Tunes
Adam Boyce, whose family has called Vermont home since the 1760’s, started playing the fiddle in 1991. He took lessons from his mentor, nationally-recognized traditional Yankee fiddler Harold Luce of Chelsea. Ever since that time, Adam has been involved with nearly every aspect of traditional New England dancing and music, becoming a noted authority on its history. Besides being a recognized traditional fiddler himself, Adam also plays piano backup for other fiddlers, as well as fiddling and calling simultaneously for square and contra dances. He gives living history presentations to non-profit groups all over Vermont and New Hampshire, through the Humanities. Adam lives in West Windsor, Vermont.