Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fiddler's Jamboree

Audience members dance in front of the stage at the 2011
Fiddler's Jamboree in East Jordan.
  They may play on a violin but it was fiddlers that were taking to the stage this past Saturday at the Fiddler’s Jamboree in East Jordan. More than thirty individual fiddlers and groups entertained crowds at East Jordan’s Harvest Barn Church including performers from Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Boyne City, the Harbor Springs/Petoskey area and Ontario, Canada.

The jamboree is an annual event held by the Jordan Valley Fiddlers to help promote music programs for young people. According to their mission statement; “To promote, maintain and pass down the tradition of old time fiddle music and dancing.”

A Traverse City teen plays along with her Ukelele accompaniment
at the East Jordan Fiddler's Jamboree. 
The East Jordan jamboree “caters to the younger folks” said Dan Johnston, president of the event’s organizing committee. Funds that are raised at the event are awarded to individual students to further their musical talents. According to Mr. Johnston scholarships are primarily paid, on behalf of students, directly to area music instructors for one on one lessons.

Even though most music instructors teach more of the standard styles of violin Mr. Johnston feels that these types of lessons do help kids who want to learn how to fiddle. According to Mr. Johnston, a fifty-year fiddler himself, most accomplished fiddle players “started in a classical or semi classical form”.

Crooked Tree Arts Center music education director Robert Dudd
and Amanda Westrick of Boyne City perform at the 2011
Fiddler's Jamboree in East Jordan.
Petoskey’s Crooked Tree Arts Center music education director Robert Dudd has participated in the Jamboree since he arrived in northern Michigan eight years ago. His Youth Orchestra was one of the groups that performed during the afternoon rotation. The jamboree “is a big source of assistance to families that are paying for programs” said Mr. Dudd in a telephone interview. “It gives kids the opportunity to concentrate on fiddle work.”

The evening festivities included an old fashioned square dance where a rotation of callers directed dancers around the floor. With square dancing remaining popular in Canada many of the evenings guest callers where from the Ontario area.

The sluggish economy and bad weather in the southern part of the State may have put a damper on both attendance and donations at this years event but not on the spirits of the organizing committee. Even though this was Mr. Johnston’s last year at the helm he is confident that it’s roughly fifteen-year history will continue and he is looking forward to performing again in next years jamboree.


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