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47th Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention


For lovers of traditional music, something wonderful is on the horizon: The Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention & Festival on Sunday, October 14th and the official pre-festival concert on Saturday, October 13th. This is my third year as the artistic director for one of my all-time favorite old-time festivals. Needless to say, I’m fired up to share the great events and performers with you. The Fiddlers’ Convention was founded 47 years ago by musician and folklorist Peter Feldmann who envisioned a festival dedicated to sharing traditional music with the community. Nearly five decades later, it is still going strong, attracting musicians and traditional music lovers from all around the country. It’s now hosted by the Goleta Valley Historical Society who strongly believe in preserving the history and living culture of old-time music. The festival will present performances and workshops with master musicians, hosted jam sessions, an instrument petting zoo, a raffle, folk art & music vendors, a pre-festival concert the day before and the “beating heart” of the festival itself: The Contest.

This contest’s purpose is to expose our music to all the musicians (and non-musicians) who attend the festival. This contest doesn’t have an aggressive competitive vibe at all. Musicians of all levels, including beginners, are highly encouraged to sign up and show their peers (and judges) what they’re working on. It inspires so many people to see others play old tunes and songs of early America. Often spectators transform into musicians once they see how much fun the contestants are having. The categories include: fiddle, youth fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, singing, youth singing, misc, instruments (dulcimer, autoharp, jaw harp, etc.), band performance and best backup instrument. The contest now has early registration online to avoid the sign-up line at the festival, however you can still sign up at the festival. Contest Pre-Registration Here.

On the Performance Stage, old-time legend Brad Leftwich will be performing in classic old-time duo form with rhythm powerhouse Linda Higginbotham. Brad’s fiddle and banjo playing has inspired scores of musicians from around the world. The talented and enigmatic old-time performer Frank Fairfield will be performing with guitar/mandolin/banjo legend Tom Marion. Frank Fairfield was recently featured in the American Epic documentary series and Tom Marion is known for his playing with Robert Crumb’s Cheap Suit Serenaders as well as several traditional jazz and string bands in Los Angeles. The Bay Area string band Skillet Licorice, who are masters of repertoire from the East Texas Serenaders and the Skillet Lickers, will be strutting their rags, waltzes and hoedowns too. Two of my favorite award winning fiddle and banjo players Maxine Gerber and Karen Heil (of the Bucking Mules) will be performing as Plaid Strangers. Every lover of banjo/fiddle duets will be totally mesmerized. Also, Los Angeles’ Have More Fun Stringbandwill be kicking off the day with a set of high energy songs and fiddle tunes.

For those who spend the weekend in the area, the festival now presents an Old-Time Concert on Saturday the 13th from 3PM-5PM to get things started. It’s Free. This year’s pre-festival concert will feature Los Angeles old-time band Echo Mountain who were a huge hit at last year’s festival as well as fiddle duets from David Bragger & Susan Platz and members of Sausage Grinder. They’ll be performing several pieces from their latest release: King’s Lament: Old-Time Fiddle Duets, the first double fiddle CD in old-time music! Also, Kentucky-born old-time multi-instrumentalist Clinton Davis will be performing tunes and songs on guitar, banjo, harmonica and fiddle. Clinton has recorded CDs with the G Burns Jug Band and is in great demand as a solo performer.

 

Sausage Grinder Concert and Workshops at the BOTMC

Old-Time super group Sausage Grinder will be performing at the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention (BOTMC) on Thursday, September 27th at the Freight & Salvage along with Dom Flemons, Paul Brown and Mike Bryant! Tickets are available HERE.

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Sausage Grinder members David Bragger & Susan Platz will also be teaching their popular Double Fiddle workshop on Saturday, September 29th at 3:00. Register HERE.

Sausage Grinder’s Chris Berry will be teaching a Dock Boggs Banjo Workshop the same day and time. Register HERE.

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Sausage Grinder, from Los Angeles, combines the sounds of fiddle and banjo breakdowns with the country blues, topped off with a touch of ragtime and hillbilly jazz.  The members of the band are David Bragger, fiddle, mandolin, banjo; Susan Platz, fiddle, banjo, washboard, vocals; Chris Berry, guitar, banjo, vocals; Pat MacSwyney, mandolin, tenor guitar, jug and Timothy Riley, jug, washboard, jaw harp, saw, bagpipes, mouth harp, mandolin, guitar, vocals. David is the proprietor of the Tiki Parlour label, which issues recordings and videos of old-time music, and has recorded an album of old-time fiddle duets with Susan, some of which will be included in Sausage Grinder’s concert set.

 

Old-Time Fiddle Workshop with Rafe Stefanini


Come join us for an intimate fiddle workshop with old-time master musician Rafe Stefanini. He’ll be teaching just this one workshop during his week-long residence at the Old-Time Tiki Parlour.

Seating is limited so RSVP before it’s too late.

Rafe Stefanini has been at the forefront of the revival of traditional music from the rural south for over  thirty years.  His work on  fiddle, banjo, guitar and song is represented in over 20 CDs, both as headliner and as guest.  He has been a member of such influential bands as the Wildcats, Big Hoedown, The Rockinghams and lately  Jumpsteady Boys (with Bruce Molsky, Joe Newberry and Mike Compton). He has been a teacher at many music camps on fiddle, banjo and guitar. His performance DVD with Clelia Stefanini was the first release from the Old-Time Tiki Parlour.

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When: Saturday August 25th at 5:00

Where: The Old-Time Tiki Parlour

For details, contact: .

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Old-Time Tiki Parlour String Band Weekend-Joseph Decosimo, Luke Richardson & Cleek Schrey

We are proud to present the Old-Time String Band Weekend from the Tiki Parlour!

A weekend with three masters of fiddle and banjo hailing from Tennessee and Virginia!!

-CONCERT-

On Saturday, June 23rd at 7:30pm, Joseph Decosimo (Bucking Mules), Luke Richardson (Bucking Mules) & Cleek Schrey (Bigfoot) will be performing at Timewarp Records along with Los Angeles’ newest old-time band The SHAKYTOWN Ramblers (Nick Bachman, Pat MacSwyney, Steve Lewis and Laura Osborn!).  Tickets and information HERE.

 

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-WORKSHOPS-

On Sunday, June 24th at 1:00, Joseph, Luke and Cleek will be teaching two workshops with a potluck in between!

–Cumberland Plateau Fiddling Workshop–1:00
In this workshop we’ll sample some rare fiddle pieces and stylings from the sandy soil of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau. Spanning north to south across Tennessee, the region has been home to a range of sounds—from John Sharp’s incisive, driving tunes to Oscar Overturf’s loping grooves to Blaine Smith’s swooping, squirrelly pieces. We’ll explore two or three delightful tunes drawn from the northern and southern ends of the plateau. We’ll consider the details of bowing in play. Participants will leave with a couple of tunes and a rough sense of the region’s music.

–Potluck and Old-Time Jam–2:30

–Tennessee Clawhammer and Fingerstyle Banjo Workshop–4:00

 In this class we will divide our time between repertoire and right-hand refinement.  Clawhammer and fingerstyles will be explored as well as tunings.  Every skill level is welcome.  Recording devices are strongly encouraged.

 

 

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Joseph Decosimo, Luke Richardson, and Cleek Schrey explore Old-time sounds and repertoires on fiddles and banjo. This trio is the culmination of six years of collaboration between these Tennessee and Virginia natives. Composed of a Clifftop fiddle champion and two national banjo champions, the trio features members of prize-winning stringbands the Bucking Mules (Luke and Joseph) and Bigfoot (Cleek). In this project, these musicians explore the possibilities for nuance, ambiguity, and expressivity beyond the contemporary stringband sound.  Drawing on their deep study of fiddle and banjos styles from Tennessee and North Carolina, they  will draw listeners into uncluttered, spacious performances. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear these Southern masters!

 

The SHAKYTOWN Ramblers are a north Los Angeles-based Old-Time String Band performing all the hits from 19th and early 20th century rural America.  Drawing from the old 78 and field recordings of long gone fiddlers, the band plays a wide spectrum of both Appalachian & Midwestern breakdowns, assorted rags and the occasional song.  The SHAKYTOWN Ramblers features Nick Bachman on Fiddle; Laura Osborn on Guitar & Tin Whistle; Steve Lewis on Banjo; and Pat Mac Swyney on Mandolin & Tenor Resonator.

Workshops at the 13th Ever Los Angeles Old-Time Social

For more information about the entire 3-day event, click HERE.

Workshops

DAY & Time: Saturday, May 19th 12pm – 6pm
WHERE:  American Legion Hall, Post 206
227 N. Ave. 55, 90042

:: UPSTAIRS ::

12:00-2:00 Sacred Harp Shape-Note Singing with Los Angeles’ Sacred Harp Beginners Club

The Sacred Harp Beginners Club began one day in LA in the comforts of someone’s home or on the tip-top of a glorious hill. They met week after week with creative hiatuses now and then only to continue as beginners three years later. A group of trained perfectionists and genuine newbs, they still review the songs section by section, singing through all versus in order to achieve the greatest satisfaction.

The workshop will be led by Brandon Armstrong, David Elsenbroich, Andrea Tzvetkov, and more Beginners Club regulars.

2:00-4:00 Square Dance Calling—Susan Michaels

Learn how to call squares for your friends and family.  Beginners welcome.  Or just show up and get your dancing shoes on.

SUSAN MICHAELS is a teacher and a caller of traditional American dancing, especially contra dancing and square dancing. She has called and taught dances at local evenings, weekend workshops, week-long elementary school programs, week-long family camps and dance weekends throughout the U.S. and Canada.

4:00-5:00  Flatfooting with Ira Bernstein and Ruth Alpert

IRA will teach an open level Flatfooting workshop.  He will teach a few basic steps, including the Walking Step (also called the Buck Step), with an emphasis on style, nuance, and musicality.  He will also field requests from the more experienced dancers.

For nearly four decades IRA BERNSTEIN toured internationally, performing traditional southern Appalachian flatfooting and other forms of percussive step dancing in concerts and at festivals.  The Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, England, Maison de la Danse in Lyon, France, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Germany, Lincoln Center in New York City, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. are a few of the noteworthy venues at which he appeared.  He has been a member of the highly influential and esteemed companies The Fiddle Puppets of Annapolis, MD and the American Tap Dance Orchestra of New York City, and has shared the stage with many of the world’s greatest tap and step dancers, including, Savion Glover, Gregory Hines, Honi Coles, Sandman Sims, and Brenda Bufalino.  Credited to be a founding father of the current percussive step dance scene, Mr. Bernstein no longer performs due to health issues, but he continues to teach and be an inspiration and resource to percussive dancers around the world.

RUTH ALPERT has been flatfooting for 34 years.  She has taught workshops, danced with old-time Appalachian string bands, busked (street performed) in various cities in at least 6 states, and is a two time National Champion in Senior Buck Dancing, 2013 and 2014.  Currently, Ruth is the percussion section of The Honeysuckle Possums, an all-female string band playing original and traditional music.

5:00-6:00  Cajun Dancing with Ira Bernstein

IRA will teach an Introductory Level Cajun Dance workshop covering two-steps and waltzes.  The focus will be old school in which the emphasis will be on dancing in step with the music and one’s partner, rather than fancy, complex  moves.

IRA BERNSTEIN is an accomplished Cajun dance instructor.  Since his first trip to Eunice and Mamou in 1981, he has made numerous return visits to southwest Louisiana to dance in the local Cajun and Creole dance halls and music bars.  He learned by watching the best dancers and then asking them to dance.  He presents “old school” Cajun two steps and waltzes, and has led workshops at numerous festivals and camps across to country.

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:: DOWNSTAIRS ::

12:00-1:00  Fiddle with Rosie Newton 

Old Time fiddle workshop will focus on learning tunes by ear. We will also talk about bowings and rhythms typically found in this kind of music.

1:00-2:00  Banjo with Richie Stearns

In the clawhammer banjo workshop Richie will discuss basic technique as well as tips on playing with fiddle player, and learning tunes.

2:00-3:00  Life and Music of Dick Hutchison and other Ozark Fiddle Tunes

Roy Pilgrim is a Fayetteville native who began playing music with neighbors at the age of eight. He is an avid student of early American fiddle music, and he also works as a carpenter and sawyer. He and Aviva live and garden on their farm just south of Fayetteville, Arkansas. He received the Mulkey Kent award in 2017 for “outstanding Ozark fiddling” and has recently recorded 10 segments of “Fine Fiddlers of the Ozarks” which is broadcast on Ozark Highl

3:00-4:00  Old-Time Fiddle Tunes & Bowing with David Bragger

David will draw from a vast repertoire of Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina fiddle tunes that are rhythmic and easy to grasp. The objective is to get the fiddler playing some incredible tunes with a focus on rhythm and interchangeable variations. As always, my workshops emphasize the key ingredient to old-time fiddle: Bowing!! All workshop attendees will receive audio files of the tunes with phrase by phrase instruction. Please email davidbragger@gmail.com for registration and questions. This workshop is for all levels!

David Bragger plays fiddle in the old-time stringband Sausage Grinder. David teaches old-time fiddle, banjo and mandolin to students of all ages and levels. He is also the founder of the Old Time Tiki Parlour (oldtimetikiparlour.com) which produces concerts, workshops, CDs and films by the best old-time musicians alive, including Kirk Sutphin, Dan Gellert, Bruce Molsky, Paul Brown, Bob Carlin, Eric & Suzy Thompson, Mike Compton, Joe Newberry, Scott Prouty, etc. David is in high demand as a fiddle teacher at festivals and has private students in four continents! He is known for his ability to break down tunes and bowing with ease and clarity.

4:00-5:00  Old Time Guitar Intro to Bass Runs with Aviva Steigmeyer

Aviva Steigmeyer was born in Washington State and lived several years in Virginia before moving to Arkansas in 2014. She plays guitar, cello, and sings with the Ozark Highballers, and is also a print-maker, gardener, and builder of early 1900s-style parlor guitars. Her guitars and prints can be found at www.preservationguitar.com

5:00-6:00  Old-Time 2-Finger Banjo Basics with Chris Berry

If you’ve only played clawhammer, come learn a different, easy and fun way to play – two-finger thumb lead. It’s great for songs and instrumentals both. If you already play two-finger, there’ll be things for you to learn too! Just bring your thumb, index finger and a banjo!

Chris Berry plays guitar and banjo in the old-time stringband Sausage Grinder. “He is an amazing teacher,” says Kelly Marie Martin!