Fiddle music is an integral part of our Canadian heritage. Fiddlejam began in 2001 as an opportunity to play together for fun and as a place to learn and share Canadian Fiddle tunes. We have since learned well over 200 tunes and play for many annual community events. We work together with Branch 18 of the British Columbia Old Time Fiddlers Association to host a monthly contra dance from September to April at the Merville Hall in Merville .
Everyone is welcome and we have musicians of all ages and levels. Although most musicians are fiddlers, we enjoy a great backup contingent of piano, guitar, bass, stand-up bass, mandolin, banjo and accordion. We play a variety of styles and tunes: Canadian Old Time, Celtic, French Canadian, Cape Breton and dance music including foxtrots, 2-steps, country shuffles, waltzes, jigs, polkas, reels and swing tunes.
Fiddlejam musicians generally play by ear and all tunes are taught by ear. Often musicians will bring a tape recorder to help them remember the new tune.
Fiddlejam works very closely with the British Columbia Old Time Fiddlers, Comox Valley Branch #18. This non-profit society works to maintain the longtime tradition of Canadian fiddle music as an important part of our Canadian heritage. Its mandate is also to encourage and support all young fiddle players through bursaries designed to help them with lessons, workshops, camps and contests. Profits from the Contra Dances go towards the bursaries.
Branch 18 and Fiddlejam hold a Contra / Old Time dance at the Merville Hall generally on the third Saturday of the month from September to April.
In the Comox Valley there are two major fiddle events during the year, The North Island Festival of the Performing Arts Fiddle section and Fiddle Fest
Fiddle Fest is a two day festival held in the Springl. This year Fiddle Fest was held on Friday, March 9th and Saturday, March 10th at the Merville Hall, 15 minutes north of Courtenay. On Friday, the fiddle concert featured Ontario fiddler and step dancer, Kelli Trottier. On Saturday, there is a friendly day of workshops with an evening Contra Dance & Old Time dance.
The North Island Festival of the Performing Arts, usually held in February, has a Fiddle component which is an opportunity for fiddlers to perform for adjudication and awards.
Format of Fiddlejam
Wednesdays 7:00 pm – 9:00pm
Old island Highway, Merville
7:00 - 7:50 jam on mainly older tunes.
When possible we learn a new tune at about 7:30
7:50 – 8:05 - snacks
(At this point the younger players will often head home to bed.)
8:05 – 9:00 Open jam.
There is a $2 drop-in charge for musicians. If you just want to sit and listen at the back or dance to the music, be our guest, there is no charge.
Fiddlejam format is to go around the circle asking for tune requests. We try for 3, so we can keep playing for three tunes in a row. You may count in your own tune if you like. Choose a tune that people know. Be tuned in to the players around you and choose something that will include them. (Especially in the first hour when the younger players are there.) In the first hour, with faster tunes, we will play them through slowly twice and then crank them up to speed.
When a tune is being taught it is important to be quiet and play only when the instructor gives the cue to play. Back up players, if accompanying the tune being taught, should play quietly.
As Fiddlejam, we are often invited to play at community events. At general playouts everyone is always welcome and if there is remuneration it is divided amongst the players. Sometimes we receive a request for a couple of players and we will generally call on the younger players to do these gigs.
Over the years Cindy has assembled books of sheet music of the tunes that have been taught each year. She has also made CD's of the tunes. There are now 7 books. These are available for $6 each.
A few years ago we chose 20 of the "easier" Fiddlejam tunes and Cindy compiled them all in one Beginner Book with a CD.
To order any Fiddlejam Books speak to Cindy at Fiddlejam.
All info goes out via e-mail.
If interested write your e-mail in the green binder.