Evergreen Fiddler Tune Book Volume I


The Evergreen Fiddler Volume I is the first in a series of tune books that were created by Stuart Williams for the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association.

This first book contains 17 fiddle tunes, hand selected by Stuart for this production. Included are tune transcripts, a brief biography of the tune from Stuart’s perspective, and the sound track for each tune.

The tunes appeared in the Evergreen Fiddler, WOTFA’s official newsletter, from 2001-2002.  Featured fiddle players are renowned throughout the Northwest for their unique style of fiddling.

All proceeds from the purchase of these publications goes to support the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association and our mission to preserve and promote old time fiddle music.


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Ever since its early days, the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association has published a tune in its newsletter centerfold. The monthly task of chosing and transcribing a tune falls to the association’s Music Editor. Warren Colebank filled that role for many years and was succeeded first by Pete Martin and most recently by Stuart Williams. But the newsletter doesn’t come with a sound-track, and learning tunes off the page can be both difficult and unsatisfactory.

When Stuart took over the baton from Pete in March 2001, he printed tunes that were available on recordings, so that interested fiddlers might have some chance of learning a tune from its source. But that still involves gathering together a number of recordings. The obvious solution is to collect the tunes on one recording, which is what has been done here.

These fiddlers and tunes represent the recent past of northwestern fiddling. They lived and played in this region, although many of them learned elsewhere and were already accomplished fiddlers when they arrived here as adults seeking work. Many are fiddlers with whom Stuart has played over the past thirty years. All were, or still are, stalwarts of the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association, or its sister organization in Oregon. All learned to play from family members or neighbors and enjoyed a certain stature in their communities as the man (or, less often, woman) who made dancing possible.

The predominant musical influences in the northwest come from the southern stylistics of the Midwest, the sweet Scandinavian tones of the Northern Plains, and the melodic European reels of Canada. Fiddlers who arrived here as adults would have come with a playing style already ingrained from their childhood playing. But as they met and played with each other in their new homes they swopped tunes with each other, incorporating the new tunes into their well-developed repertoire and playing style. The next generation of fiddlers would have the opportunity to learn from these masters and would often combine elements of each in their playing. So, while Joe Panzcerewski’s focus on clearly noting the melody of a tune reflects the strong Canadian influence on Northern Plains music, and Earl Willis’ driving shuffles proclaim his Missouri Ozark origins, both are combined in the rythmic, lyrical playing of native northwesterner, Jim Calvert.

This collection is a snapshot in time and space, a representation of the long history of fiddle music in the Northwest. The association was established to nuture this tradition and escort it into the future and this recording is intended to further that work. But nothing can take the place of playing with and learning from a fiddler at a jam session, dance or workshop. We hope that you will learn these tunes, then seize the next opportunity to play them with or for other musicians.

Using this Collection

It is my humble opinion that too many people are relying too heavily on simply reading tunes out of books. When they approach fiddling this way, they seem to miss out on the essence of the rhythm and phrasing that are crucial to sounding like real old time fiddling, sounding rather stilted to my ears. Listen, listen, listen and than listen some more, before you try and play the tunes! You will remember them better and have a better sense of where to go with your own phrasing and variations. Plus, you will glean so much more in terms of the subtlety of style expressed. Better yet, as Brid suggests, seek out your local, traditional old time fiddler and watch, listen, study, jam, imitate and then play the tunes your own way.

One trick I’ve found when working from the written page is to play a short phrase and then put the fiddle down, blur my eyes a little as I scan the notes on page while singing the tune in my head. Then run it through your head (your “inner fiddler”) without reference to the paper.

Choice of Tunes

These are mostly tunes I’ve learned from old time fiddlers from the broader northwest whom I’ve met at contests, campouts and travels hither and yon. I tend to focus on dance tunes because that is what I know best. Some of you have asked why I don’t feature more songs with words to sing, Texas contest tunes, Irish, Appalachian, New England, Cajun etcetera. Simply put – there are plenty of song and tune books available for those areas of music and I’m happy to leave that to someone else. We have such a deep heritage in the Northwest of fiddling, I feel more compelled to do what I can to document and present these riches. (For Texas tunes, see Pete Martin’s fine works on Benny Thomasson.)

Changes from the original newsletter publications

I’ve kept changes in text and transcription to a minimum except for obvious typos and errors and, in a few cases, to provide additional information that has arisen. Some of the transcriptions were changed to be more closely alligned with the particular recordings used for this cd. Most were left alone; so some will, as is typical, be a little bit different than the recorded version, but they still represent one way that I (or the source) played the tune at some point in time. Use your ear and your imagination to create your own adaptation of these tunes.

Good luck and have fun.

Stuart Williams


Evergreen Fiddler Vol I

Additional information

Dimensions 11 × 8.5 × 3.0 in
Media Selection

Downloadable, Hardcopy


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