Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Don't let your instrument get the winter blues!

Pegs are popping, strings are out of tune, and cracks are becoming the “in” thing these days. This can only mean one thing; it’s winter in Vermont! While winter for us means warm fires, snow capped mountains and lots of hot chocolate, winter for your fiddle can bring on all sorts of problems that can make playing a daunting task.

Signs that your instrument is too dry:
• Pegs slipping and/or strings loosening
• Seams beginning to unglue
• Action changes causing a buzz when played
• Cracks begin to form

Though winter can take a toll on your instrument you can prevent your fiddle from suffering the winter blues by following these winter rules:

Winter Care for your instrument
  1. Use a case humidifier. At about $12 per humidifier, this is an affordable and highly effective way to protect your instrument.
  2. Use a room humidifier. Not only is it good for your complexion but its great for your instrument. An instrument prefers to be kept at a humidity level of 40-50%.
  3. Store your instrument in a moist room of the house. This means keeping it away from heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves or anything that could dry your instrument out.
  4. Don't leave your instrument in a freezing car. You don't like to be left out in the cold, neither does your instrument.
Hope this helps! Happy winter.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fiddle for Sale

Beautiful fiddle/violin for sale. Made by New York maker, Samuel Kolstein. Sweet tones and beautifully varnished in a dark amber, rosewood pegs and tailpiece. LR Baggs pick up for precise amplification. Comes with a Bobelock oblong suspension case. Instrument valued at $6,000 (I have the paperwork to prove it). I'm asking ONLY $3500 (or best offer). This is a sweet deal. I have loved this instrument since I bought it. Must sell as I have more instruments than I can afford.

Great prices for a beautiful instrument. Email me today if you're interested: busyfiddling{at}

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A visit from Tony DeMarco

"Why don't Italian's like Jehovah's witnesses?...we don't like any witnesses," joked Tony DeMarco to a laughing crowd at the Flynn Space. This was one of many jokes and stories Tony shared at his CD Release party this past Sunday night.

The famous New York Irish fiddler celebrated the release of his latest CD The Sligo Indians to a packed house on November 9th.
He shared the stage with Vermont's own Pete Sutherland, Cape Breton fiddler extraordinaire, Jerry Holland and other talented musicians. With his upbeat sligo-style fiddling he had just about everyone in the audience tapping their feet as he played famous session tunes such as the Mountain Road, Mason's Apron, Whiskey Before Breakfast and more.

This was Tony's 2nd time performing in the Flynn Space and we hope he comes back for more.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Taking 2nd Place

Last month, I participated in the Northeast Fiddler's Association's 42nd Annual Old-Time Fiddle Contest and actually came in 2nd place! I've been participating in this competition for years and each year I flail as I perform because it's so darn nerve wracking...Not this year. My only goal was to complete my three tunes without completely screwing them up. Not only did I do that but I came in 2nd place. Here's to setting a goal and achieving it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Competing in a fiddle contest

There you are on stage under the spotlight. The audience is so quiet you can hear a pin drop. Though you can't see them, you can feel their eyes staring right at you. Judges are waiting silently back stage with headphones to listen to your every note. Your competitors are back stage wondering what tunes you'll play and if they will overlap with the tunes they plan to perform. Then all of a sudden you see the green light turn on indicating your 4 minutes have begun. Suddenly you can't remember the first note of the first tune. "Breathe," is what you tell yourself as your hands suddenly take over while your mind follows...

I'm not quite sure I understand the point of fiddle contests or why the heck I keep entering them every year. It's not so much that I want to prove to anyone that I'm a better fiddler. It's more that I want to prove to myself that I can play under pressure. I have been performing on stage for over 5 years now and I am never as nervous as I am when I'm competing. Maybe it's the green light that screams at you as it turns to yellow and then to red and the fact that I have a time limit on what I'm playing. Or it could be the fact that I am surrounded by some of the best fiddlers this side of the Mississippi or that the judges are sitting there listening to every note or it could be a combination of it all.

Anyway, this weekend I will attend and compete once again in the Northeast Fiddler's Association's annual fiddle contest in hopes that I can just get through it without flailing.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Session Obsession

Okay, I have to admit, I haven't been playing much lately. Maybe it's because the weather has been absolutely gorgeous here and there is so much to do outside instead of practicing. So needless to say I have yet to research any tunes or players as I said I would in my last blog entry. I'm sure you were waiting on the edge of your seat, so I'm sorry to disappoint you.

What I do want to write about today is the obsession with sessions that I have. Each Wednesday night a little coffeehouse bar in Burlington, Vermont called Radio Bean, hosts an Irish session at 9pm. The last time I went I got there a bit early to catch the tail end of the Jazz session that plays before us and I was struck completely by the similarities and differences between the two jam sessions and here's what I wrote on a tiny piece of paper at the bar:

I sit here waiting for the Irish session to begin and I am listening to the Jazz session that plays before us. Tonight there is a bass player, guitar player, drummer, trumpet player and two cellists. It's amazing to watch and listen to it as they play only what inspires them at a given moment. Although we have specific tunes we play, it is not so different in that we play the tunes that inspire us and hope that the rest of group hops in and plays with us.

I guess sessions are the same no matter what genre they are in. In essence they are just a forum to express yourself through your music.

So if you're in the Burlington area on a Wednesday night head on over to Radio Bean for the Jazz jam followed by the Iris session. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The history of traditional Irish tunes

It's amazing the things you learn at a session. The other night I was at the weekly Irish session at Radio Bean in Burlington and in between tunes some of the musicians were talking about where they learned a particular tune or that it sounded like a particular musician wrote it and I realized just how little I know about the music I play. So I'm on a quest to learn all I can about the great musicians and composers of Irish music.

I'm starting with one of my favorite CD's, Live at Mona's, because there are a lot of great tunes and musicians on this album. It is a session that was recorded at a bar in New York City called Mona's. What I love most about this CD, aside from the fact that it has amazing tunes on it, is that if you listen closely you can hear people playing pool in the background, a cell phone ringing and at the end of the album you can hear the bar tender calling "last call." It really gives a sense of what a good session sounds like and with headphones on, you feel like you're actually there.

I've been on a quest for weeks now to learn every tune on this CD. It's not an easy task by any means but I've already gotten 4 under my belt and am working on another one this morning. Though I am learning the melody of the tunes, I should be learning the history the tunes I play and the players who I am learning them from. Some of these tunes are hundreds of years old and have been passed down from country to country and from generation to generation...It's all so fascinating and I'm sure when I find out all I can about this music, playing the tunes will be that much more enjoyable.

I'll keep you posted as to what I find...