Some of the Ester Jelly Jammers 2011
For years, I promised that once I got tenure I would take up the fiddle. Then, a few weeks after I got my letter, my muse inspired me to stop at the local music store, where I bought a cheap used student violin. And here it is four and a half years, six violins, one 5-string fiddle, one viola, two mandolins, and two basses later. At some point two years ago, I shifted from telling people that I played the fiddle to actually identifying as a fiddler. There are many, many people who have inspired me along my fiddling journey, none more important than the Ester Jelly Jammers and Kayt Sunwood. My cats and dogs also need recognition, as they have had to endure the journey as well. None of them hide under the table anymore when I pull out my fiddle case, so I take that as a sign that my musical skills have progressed.
I like playing and listening to old time music the best. The twang of a banjo, squawl of a fiddle, thrum of a bass, lilt of a mandolin--these sounds are quite literally music for my soul. Old time music is rhythmic, solid, predictable, and comparatively easy to play. Old time music is as familiar to me as the look of my own hands, as it was all around me when I was growing up in North Carolina. Alaska has many excellent old time fiddlers, and many wonderful old time and folk musicians in general. Our folk music community thrives here in winters' cold and dark, and the incessant sunlight of our all-too-brief summers.
If you have even the least bit of interest in playing music, my advice is to just do it. Find others interested in playing your kind of music, because music is meant to be shared. One of my life goals is to help seize music back from corporate profiteers and professional experts and to return the joy of participating in music making to the people. Making music with others is creating community. Come rosin up your bow and join us!
Although I mostly play with Ester Jelly Jam (visit our website here, I have also played out as part of the Really Free Jam Band, Angels on the Fringe, and Cackling Rads. The Cackling Rads especially enjoy committing random acts of music in Ester and on campus.