Last year (2017), we had 560+ musicians at the thirteenth Massachusetts Fiddle Hell. They came from as far away as Scotland, Québec City (Canada), California, Alabama, Michigan, Texas and Florida, and from as near as Westford itself.
Fiddlers are welcome, and so are mandolin players, cellists, violists, guitar and banjo players, and singers. We'll have workshops and jams for all these instruments (and for singers) again in 2018. Other instrumentalists, please contact Dave first to ask, since there is limited space at Fiddle Hell. We do request that any accompanying instrumentalists only play styles and tunes they are familiar with, and ask before joining jam sessions.
This amazing gathering starts at 11AM on Thursday and goes until 6PM on Sunday (Nov. 1-4, 2018). There will be more than 450 instructor-led workshops and jam sessions. Really! In addition, there will be lots of informal jam sessions, where the 52 original and 52 new Fiddle Hell common tunes may often show up. The Saturday night concert and contra dance afterwards are legendary! In addition, we'll have 12 one-hour concerts by bands and instructors. On Friday night, The Whomp! is back, and the Friday night easy contradance as well, with music by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason. And don't miss the Cellosaurus Stomp Flash Mob - learn the dance here, and see the sheet music if you'd like (treble clef, alto clef, bass clef).
Activities: For our workshops, the Westford Regency has many large meeting rooms with comfortable chairs. We also will use several hotel suites for the smaller sessions. Workshops cover many different styles, and also include hands-on learning about jamming, learning tunes by ear, bowing shuffles, playing backup on fiddle, chop bowing, free improvisation, left hand technique, oldtime fiddling, bluegrass fiddling, oldtime fiddling, Swedish fiddling, contradance fiddling, and fiddling for kids.
While the frequent focus is on fiddle, there are also workshops for cello, mandolin, guitar, oldtime banjo, and singing, led by excellent players and teachers. We've also set up instructor-led jams in particular styles, like Oldtime Southern, Irish, Scottish, Bluegrass, Klezmer, Jazz, and Western Swing, and at different levels. Slow-speed tune workshops will be helpful when you're just learning some of the tunes. There will be some excellent jamming spots in the wide hallways, and it's fine to jam in the workshop rooms between sessions. We will be inviting selected local players (guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass, and more) to join in the jams. The 2018 instructors and accompanists are listed on the Staff page; there are 86 of them and we may add a few more. See the Schedule for more details on sessions (at least for 2017; we don't have the 2018 detailed schedule yet).
Fiddle Hell 2018 will held for the fifth year at the Westford Regency Inn, 219 Littleton Road, Westford, Massachusetts. There's lots of workshop and jamming space, loads of free parking, nice rooms if you wish to stay there (and a swimming pool!), and good food both onsite and nearby. Sessions, workshops, the concert and dance, and late night jams will all be under one roof! Click here and scroll down to Lodging and Food for information on booking sleeping rooms with the Fiddle Hell discount code (TBD for 2018).
To help with jams, to give players some common repertoire, and to encourage all to try out new styles, we introduced the "original" set of 52 common tunes in 2010, and added the "new" set of 52 more in 2016. The New 52 were chosen based on your suggestions from the last 4 years of FH surveys. Quite a few of the New 52 will be taught in workshops in November, and will likely show up in jams. Of course, the Original 52 will also show up on occasion. These tunes are all listed Store.
You can order an instructional 2-CD set of the 52 original Fiddle Hell common tunes, played both up-to-speed and slowly by the Reiner Family Band. Volume 1 is only $15 postpaid (within the US) in our online Store.
In 2017, the Reiner Family Band (and several talented friends) recorded the 52 new common tunes, played fast and slow. Volume 2 is also only $15 postpaid (within the US) in our online Store.
There are lots of jam sessions at Fiddle Hell, both scheduled and impromptu. Click for jamming guidelines.
Fiddle Hell is loosely sponsored online by the Fiddle and Alternative Strings Forum and the Fiddle Hangout. At these websites, you'll find discussions, event listings, and other resources; you can join for free and read about past and future Fiddle Hell meetings.
For many years, Fiddle Hell has been sponsored by CodaBow (maker of great carbon fiber bows) and by D'Addario (maker of responsive, fine-sounding strings). During the 2017 Fiddle Hell weekend, we gave away many sets of D'Addario Helicore strings (including two sets for cello), a couple of dozen sets of D'Addario EXP74 mandolin strings, and 10 sets each of D'Addario banjo and guitar strings (lights and mediums). Right after Fiddle Hell, there was a drawing on the CodaBow website for a new Joule bow valued at $625-$750 (fiddle, viola, or cello bow to match your instrument). You had until Nov 8th to sign up for the giveaway on the CodaBow website, using a URL we gave out at Fiddle Hell. Just so you know, CodaBow will ask for your email when you sign up. To one of the musicians who preregistered for the weekend, we gave away a $100 gift certificate from Johnson String Instrument / Carriage House Violins that can be used at Fiddle Hell or at their store in Newton, MA. 2018 giveaways will be similar.
- Dave Reiner, Andy Eid Reiner, and Eric Eid-Reiner, Fiddle Hell Music Directors