Category Archives: Misc Goodies

Links to pages or articles of interest

Tony DeMarco

We had the pleasure of experiencing a 90 minute workshop last night with New York fiddler Tony DeMarco at Pete Vigour’s studios in Charlottesville. Tony plays Sligo style fiddle and is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about New York Irish fiddle roots. Right now, I’m just going to get the tunes up while I have fast internet at work, but will add to this post later.

Jug of Punch  Listen   View Notation*  Key of Em   *Notation in Dm, Tony played it in Em
Jug of Punch with Ornaments  Listen

Larry Redigan’s Jig  Listen    Key of Am
Larry Redigan’s Jig with Ornaments  Listen

Larry Redigan’s Reel  Listen    Key of G
Golden Keyboard  Listen   View Notation  Key of Em

Also, a quick plug for Tony’s wonderful CD, Sligo Indians, available for purchase at his website, here. Along with the great music (15 tracks), the CD also has some of the most extensive and interesting liner notes I’ve seen. I can’t wait for his forthcoming book on Sligo/New York Irish Fiddle tunes.

Sure Signs of Spring

During a long winter, we all look for harbingers of Spring. Growing up in the northeast, I remember my Grandmother calling us when she saw her first robin or the day we received the Burpee Seed catalog and could start planning our vegetable garden (sans bugs and weeding, of course). For the last few years though, those has been replaced by the arrival of the Swannanoa Gathering catalog. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Gathering, and I’m already signed up. For me, it is the best summer vacation possible (short of a week in Ireland) – full immersion into Irish tunes, song, and dance for a week in July. Because it is up in the mountains near Asheville, NC, it has traditionally been a nice break from the blistering summer heat of Central Virginia. Fantastic instructors, pot luck sessions, good food, and two instructor concerts that are among the best showcases of Irish musicians gathered together in one place (and with John Skelton as MC, lots of laughs as well!). Sleep is the only thing lacking during the week!

But Swannanoa isn’t the only option available in the States. Here are some links to SwannyG and several others that are also well known.

Swannanoa Gathering
Augusta Heritage
Catskills Irish Arts Week
Mountain Road Fiddle Camp

Hope you can find the time to go to one of them. We found it to be a great getaway and a wonderful family activity.

Irish Christmas in Washington

A lovely recent performance at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in DC featuring Banjo player and vocalist Mick Moloney, fiddlers Athena Tergis and Rhys Jones, accordionist Billy McComiskey, and pianist Brendan Dolan. Presented in cooperation with the Irish Arts Center.

Listen and watch the performance

Thanks to Rae for suggesting the link and for our BRIMS students and fellow travelers to Ireland this past summer, enjoy the 2nd tune – it should sound familiar to you!

Peace, joy and warmth of the holiday season!

Irish and Appalachian Folk Music

From sound to melody, Irish music has played a vital role in shaping traditional mountain music. We hear its influence in a pipe-like drone of a cross-tuned fiddle, and in the fast-paced rhythm of any good old-time tune.” This is a quote from Katherine James’ senior project for the Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s school. Katherine is one of our graduating high school seniors at BRIMS this year (Sean Deighan is the other), and you can easily see how the local traditional music scene in the Charlottesville area has shaped her musical interests. As part of the project, Katherine organized three lively hands-on demonstrations at Rockfish Elementary School with local area musicians, Kim and Jimbo Cary, Pete Vigour and Alex Caton. The demonstrations were great fun for all involved and reminded me just how fortunate we are to have such gifted instructors in our community. This is a perfect example of why traditional music continues to thrive today. Alex and Pete were Katherine’s fiddle instructors while growing up (and Kim and Jimbo informally at local jams) and they pass on this tradition to their students and eventually, their students do the same for the next generation. This passing on of music (and culture and wisdom) is a beautiful gift. We should take the time to enjoy and appreciate it!

Noon Whistle

Last night I had the pleasure of being invited to the home of one of my former students to play some tunes and sing some songs with him, his wife and their two border collies. John and Holly have a wonderful little shop in Standardsville, Virginia called Noon Whistle Pottery where they offer their own pottery, but also the art of over 100 other artists from around the country including pottery, sculpture, jewelry, glass, woodwork, and paintings. They are a delightful couple and I very much enjoyed their hospitality. I instantly took a liking to John in my class as someone who dabbles in lots of interesting stuff. Be sure to check out the “after hours” section to their website for pictures of the making of his hand crafted guitar, Holly’s beekeeping, and on-going construction on a cottage in Ireland that John and his brother have been working on in recent summers. On the way out the door, John showed me his latest project that was lying in the back of his van – two curved pieces of cherry that will soon become a table. So more to explore with him next time when we discuss sawmills and handmade tables. Hope he makes it over to Ireland this summer as I’d love to see the cottage he’s working on in person!

Scottish Fiddle

Hey, I just want to put a plug in for Bill Kittrell’s fiddle class offered by BRIMS starting on Thursday at 7pm at our current home at the Renaissance School. Bill’s been an instructor of Scottish fiddle for years, and a heck of a great guy, so I know you’ll enjoy this class. So, if you’re an Irish fiddler, consider crossing the sea for 6 weeks and see what those Burns reading, haggis eating bagpipers are up to!

P.S. If anyone from the beginning fiddle class is interested, I’m looking for a couple of volunteers to stick around after class tonight and play some tunes that my DADGAD guitarists can accompany. Good opportunity to have some fun and practice (if you can stay out that late!)