By David “Gus” Garelick
Fiddlers in the North Bay counties (Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino) have been out on the fringes of CSOTFA District 9 for many years. District 9 includes the Bay Area, but the center of its activities is mostly in the Castro Valley area, which is a two hour drive for most of us here in the North Bay. Lake County people can go to Oroville, but that’s a bit of a drive, too. For nearly 40 years, the Cloverdale Fiddle Contest has served as a magnet for many North Bay fiddlers, but Cloverdale itself does not have a fiddlers’ organization, and the contest has always been run by the Cloverdale Historical Society, and not by the CSOTFA.
Today, this situation has been greatly improved, because local fiddlers have formed the new District 10, with regular meetings in the town of Cloverdale (but no official connection with the contest). There are jam sessions in Cotati on the fourth Sunday of each month (3 to 5 p.m. at the Redwood Café), and also in the town of Cobb, in Lake County (for information about the Cobb jam, email Darren Jeckel: doctorjeckel@gmail.com). Other events are in the planning stages for the months ahead.
Cloverdale has been a focus for Northern California fiddlers since 1976, when a contest was organized by local chiropractor and fiddler Robert “Doc” Quam. Assisting Doc in the early years was local Santa Rosa fiddler, Tim Rued, who drafted the first set of rules and regulations for the contest. For the next 25 years of the contest, “Aunt” Edith Thompson was the MC, and gave the event its very special flavor. Aunt Edith was known to fiddlers all over California, but her home was in San Bruno, south of San Francisco. Now, all these years later, Doc has moved on to Fallon, Nevada, and Tim has moved to Manteca, California. Aunt Edith moved on to the “big jam session in the sky,” back in 2000.
In addition to the Cloverdale contest, there had always been a long tradition of jams in Santa Rosa at the home of Kelley Kirksey, a retired Los Angeles police officer, with an avid interest in old time fiddling. Tim Rued was Kelley’s grandson, and the lively jams at Kelley’s house attracted fiddlers from all over the North Bay counties. After Kelley passed away, Tim continued the jams in Santa Rosa, until he moved to Manteca, but informal jams still take place around Sonoma County, including a weekly fiddlers’ jam in Sebastopol, a monthly jam in Cotati, and a Bluegrass jam every Saturday afternoon at Coffee Catz, in Sebastopol. There are also Irish jams on various weekends at the Redwood Café in Cotati.
The Cloverdale Old Time Fiddle Contest and Festival is now planned for May 4 and 5, instead of its usual January scheduling. The two-day event at the Citrus Fairgrounds will include a guitar competition and much more entertainment, in addition to the standard fiddle contest categories. Many of the volunteers are members of District 10. One of the special members of District 10 is Ernie Hunt, who has for many years hosted a jam at his home in Cloverdale at the conclusion of the contest. For more information about the Cloverdale contest, check the website for the contest: cloverdalefiddles.com. For additional info about the organization, phone District 10 president Mike Drayton at 707-525-1125.

  • From the SoCoFoSo Folk Notes
    CSOTFA District 10 helps with KRCB Fundraiser
    On Saturday, Dec 1, members of CSOTFA District 10 and the Sonoma County Folk Society teamed up to raise money for public television station KRCB. It was a perfect opportunity to show case some of our local talent while raising money for a great cause.
    Public radio and television have suffered cutbacks in recent years, so telethons such as this are an important source of funding and support. For this event, old time musicians and District 10 members Chris Carney, Don Coffin, Michael Drayton, Janette Duncan, Gus Garelick and Doug Wilcox braved the stormy weather and turned out to play lively fiddle tunes during the program breaks. Folk Society president Steve Delap co-hosted the telethon and Folk Society & Fiddle District members helped answer the calls.
    The featured PBS TV Special was A Fiddlers’ Holiday with Jay Ungar & Molly Mason’s Family Band, including traditional and original tunes by Jay and Molly accompanied by the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra in a live performance in Fredericksburg, VA. Jay Ungar is probably best known for “Ashokan Farewell” (1982), originally composed as a lament, which was used as the theme tune to the Ken Burns documentary “The Civil War” (1990). You can find out more about Jay & Molly on their website: http://www.jayandmolly.com/home/index.shtml
    If you are interested in joining the newly formed CSOTFA District 10, please contact Mark Hogan, Membership Secretary, at hogiemoon@comcast.net or download the membership application on our website.

  • Konocti Fiddle Club

  • Members of the "club" decide what tunes they want to play and how they want to arrange them. Our performances start with the very beginning tunes for the beginners (young and old) and progress to more difficult ones. The whole club plays with beginners with advanced members playing variations and harmonies to make the beginning tunes sound good. I tell the beginners they are welcome to exit the stage after they play their tunes, but no one has ever left.... they just enjoy playing rhythm instruments and singing the words with the rest of the "band", that way getting experience of playing and listening in a group (like a band - - no leader in front). It also inspires them to learn more new tunes, and practice on the tunes that are familiar to them. We have an announcer mom who gives a little history and intro to each tune.
    Some of the info below was lifted off of the small web presence we have on the Lake Couny Arts Council website. Konocti Fiddlers

    The Konocti Fiddle Club plays for all occasions.
    Club members are fiddle students of all ages and levels of fiddling expertise.
    Presentations include a variety of old-time fiddle hoedowns, reels, jigs, waltzes with guitar and keyboard accompaniment. Styles include Old-time, Irish, Bluegrass, Blues, Swing, Cajun, Country, etc.
    Some selections are played by the larger group, and some are solo or smaller group numbers. Konocti Fiddle Club members can perform with a variety of instruments in addition to their fiddles, such as banjo, mandolin, pennywhistle, bodhran (Irish drum), keyboard, guitar, wash tub bass, and rhythm instruments.
    Family members, teachers, and friends join the students in performances and help with announcing, sound and organization of events, making it a fun family affair.
    Konocti Fiddle Club is sponsored by Skelton’s Music and most members are students of Andi Skelton.
    For information contact Andi at Skelton's Music 707-279-4336

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