Saturday, November 3, 2018


Darol at Fiddle Hell festival


Westford Regency Inn, 219 Littleton Road, Westford, Massachusetts.

Fiddle Hell Massachusetts is a yearly gathering of fiddlers, cellists, and mandolin/guitar/banjo players to meet, jam, learn, and have fun. It's both friendly and diverse, crossing all ages and including many traditional fiddle styles. Typically, there are about 15% beginners, 25% low intermediates, 30% high intermediates, and 30% advanced players, with many workshop and jam session choices at each level. Roughly 15% of the attendees are kids, and there are some sessions just for them.

The invention of the late, great fiddler Dale Hopkins from Missouri, Fiddle Hell occurs periodically in fun locations worldwide. Prior Fiddle Hells have occurred in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany. Dale used the term "Fiddle Hell" to refer to the unique sound of many fiddlers playing a tune together. While Dale's two Fiddle Hell gatherings involved performances for the public as well as some informal sharing of tunes and techniques, Dave Reiner extended the concept to make Fiddle Hell Massachusetts more of a fiddle camp for all ages, with hundreds of scheduled workshops and jam sessions led by a wonderful group of experienced and supportive instructors.

Fiddlers are welcome, and so are mandolin players, cellists, violists, guitar and banjo players, and singers. We'll have workshops and jams for all these instruments (and for singers) again in 2018. Other instrumentalists, please contact Dave first to ask, since there is limited space at Fiddle Hell. We do request that any accompanying instrumentalists only play styles and tunes they are familiar with, and ask before joining jam sessions.

This amazing gathering starts at 11AM on Thursday and goes until 6PM on Sunday (Nov. 1-4, 2018). There will be more than 450 instructor-led workshops and jam sessions. Really! In addition, there will be lots of informal jam sessions, where the 52 original and 52 new Fiddle Hell common tunes may often show up. The Saturday night concert and contra dance afterwards are legendary! In addition, we'll have 12 one-hour concerts by bands and instructors. On Friday night, The Whomp! is back, and the Friday night easy contradance as well, with music by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason. And don't miss the Cellosaurus Stomp Flash Mob - learn the dance here, and see the sheet music if you'd like (treble clef, alto clef, bass clef).

Activities: For our workshops, the Westford Regency has many large meeting rooms with comfortable chairs. We also will use several hotel suites for the smaller sessions. Workshops cover many different styles, and also include hands-on learning about jamming, learning tunes by ear, bowing shuffles, playing backup on fiddle, chop bowing, free improvisation, left hand technique, oldtime fiddling, bluegrass fiddling, oldtime fiddling, Swedish fiddling, contradance fiddling, and fiddling for kids.

While the frequent focus is on fiddle, there are also workshops for cello, mandolin, guitar, oldtime banjo, and singing, led by excellent players and teachers. We've also set up instructor-led jams in particular styles, like Oldtime Southern, Irish, Scottish, Bluegrass, Klezmer, Jazz, and Western Swing, and at different levels. Slow-speed tune workshops will be helpful when you're just learning some of the tunes. There will be some excellent jamming spots in the wide hallways, and it's fine to jam in the workshop rooms between sessions. We will be inviting selected local players (guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass, and more) to join in the jams. The 2018 instructors and accompanists are listed on the Staff page; there are 86 of them and we may add a few more.

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