About Us. Well . . .
. . . we grew up in the NY Capital District
area, in music and dance-influenced families, and live on the remains of a
small apple orchard in upstate, NY.
Like most musicians, we haven't quit our day jobs, but
play whenever we can. Whether it's playing for community
events, wedding receptions, back yard parties or just busking at a market, it brings us joy to see others enjoy what we do.
How did we get into all this, when we
didn't even know what traditional fiddle music was?
Jim grew up in a family that taught dance and believed each child should learn an instrument. He took guitar lessons in his teens, and picked up on drums, as well, and eventually playing them for school band. I grew up in a home with mostly country music and a dad who played guitar. I figured out how to play guitar by ear, and looking at chord charts. Music brought us together via a church we both attended, and playing and singing in coffeehouses started our music life, which led to our married life.
Jim inherited his grandmother's violin along the way, but it wasn't until our daughter began taking violin lessons in school that I picked up the old violin and took a few old-time fiddle lessons. I attended the first Old Songs Sampler and fell in love with traditional music. Job changes moved us from the area, and traditional fiddle music remained mostly unknown to us.
A final move brought us back to Albany, NY area in '96. Within a few months we were led to a weekly jam session called Fiddlers Tour, which played traditional fiddle dance tunes. We felt right at home with the 20 or so other musicians. From that jam session, and some 15 years of attending, we learned the bulk of the music we now play. Those jam sessions were invaluable.
On to the dance. Within the first
few jam sessions, Paul Rosenberg (jam leader and local
dance caller), noticed Jim's solid "book-chuck" rhythm guitar playing (did I mention
he was also a drummer?), and asked if he'd play
for an upcoming family dance, using tunes from the jam. After that gig, Jim became the permanent guitarist for Paul's
community dance band, "Tame Rutabaga." Still a beginner, I sat on the side during gigs, noodling with the tunes they played. As I became a better player, I was allowed to sit in, and was eventually added to the band as a full member.
A dozen years and hundreds of
dances later. We still play for Paul for family, contra, community
dances and other events. We owe him a much for taking us on and drawing us into this music and
dance journey. Through the years, we've ended up in several different bands (some have come and gone),
formed with fellow jam members, and are currently playing with the Tamarack Band,
The FireFlies, Tame Rutabaga, and as our own duo, TuneFolk, and have had the
pleasure of working with a few other local dance callers.
We're still learning, and we couldn't be happier
-- well, except for the fact that we became grandparents. Our kids have followed their own music interests, and our grandkids are beginning to show their musical sides. We hope our kids, and their kids, find their own musical journey to be as much fun.
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A Few Words About Jamming
Can't say enough about jamming with other musicians, especially with those who are
more advanced in ability. Years of jamming is how we developed the list of hundreds of
tunes we play, as well as increased our abilities on our own instruments.
It's a great way to boost your tune knowledge, pick up different
styles or versions of tunes, learn new playing techniques (by listening/watching others around you), and meet good folks.
Traditional music is all about learning and passing on what you've learned. Music
has been handed down through generations, from back porches and kitchens, to
pubs and taverns around the world.
All we can say is -- find your
instrument, follow your musical dream, and pass it on.