The tunes and comments presented here were previously published in the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association’s (nearly) monthly newsletter, the ‘Washington Evergreen Fiddler’ during the years 2003 & 2004.
The tunes as they were printed in the original newsletter often represented my own take on them after having played them for many years. It’s amazing how much a tune will change over time as a fiddler has his or her way with it! For this edition I went back and revised the transcriptions to correlate more closely with the particular recordings presented here. For these purposes I kept to just the occasional bowing suggestion or ornament notation for the purpose of indicating a general style and left most of the tunes pretty sparse. A close listening will bring out details of styling, as well as make the tunes easier to learn. When you see little slash marks where a note could be, that is to indicate a suggested double stop with the melody note being the one with the standard note head. The chords indicated are mostly as they were played on the recording. Chords in italics are among some of the interesting substitutions.
With Bríd’s editorial assistance we made a few changes here and there to improve clarity and accuracy and to bring comments up to date. As these were originally intended for the association membership via the newsletter, a certain familiarity with our regional fiddlers and with fiddling terminology was assumed. For those of you new to northwestern traditional old time fiddling, welcome aboard; You may want to look at some of the materials listed in the back.
A couple of years ago, a conversation with Roy Calvert, President of Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association (WOTFA), led to the decision to produce a recording of the tunes from their newsletter-the Evergreen Fiddler. Last year, Volume I with the tunes from 2001 and 2002 was released; Volume II includes tunes from 2003 and 2004. Many of these tunes are also available on other recordings, which are listed in the discography and referenced in the tune notes.
The appearance of each “tune-of-the-month” in the newsletter’s centerfold is eagerly awaited by the association members. As Music Editor since January 2001, Stuart Williams has been responsible for choosing and transcribing each tune. Most of these were collected from fiddlers in the Northwest over the past thirty-five years and provided a glimpse into this region’s rich fiddling heritage. That heritage reaches across time and place to include midwetern hoedonw fiddling, the sweet Scandinavian tones of the Northern Plans, and the melodic jigs and reels of Canada,themselves influenced by the music of Ireland and Scotland. The fiddlers from whom the tunes in this collection were learned, lived and played in the Northwest. Some were born and raised here while others brought their music with them as adults. They all learned in the traditional way, from family or neighbors, and enjoyed the stature afforded musicians in the days before recorded music was widely available.
WOTFA was founded in 1965 expressly to nurture our state’s rich fiddling tradition and guide it into the future. We regard a fiddling tradition as one in which tunes and their stories are passed directly from one fiddler to another. In such a tradition, printed and recorded materials can serve a useful purpose, as a memory aid and as a store of knowledge but they are no substitue for the real thing–fiddlers at play. We hope this collection will inspire you to join in a jam somewhere soon.
Bird Nowlan, Series Producer
These are, by and large, dance tunes learned from traditional old time fiddlers living in the greater northwest and Western Canada. Some came from farther east and south bringing their fiddle traditions with them, others were raised in the rural Northwest and carry on regional and family fiddle traditions and styles influenced by the confluence of musical cultures found here, in particular the blend of Scandinavian, Midwestern and Western Canadian styles.
The accompanying CD draws from recordings of the fiddlers from whom I learned the tunes, whenever possible, or else of me or Vivian Williams playing the tune. They range from studio and concert recordings to field recordings made on small hand held recorders. As such, the fidelity will vary from track to track, but the important thing is the quality of the music and the opportunity to listen closely to fiddling that reaches back to an era of North American dance music that is no longer readily available.
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