To keep us all safe in this time of Covid-19, we have reimagined Fiddle Hell as an online festival and music camp in 2020. This is an exciting new way for our music community to be together, until we can once again meet face-to-face.
We’ve assembled an epic online lineup of 35 live concerts, 34 live jam sessions, and 160 live workshops, for fiddle, mandolin, cello, guitar, old-time banjo, and singing. Other instruments (and listeners) are also welcome!
A major advantage of being online is that we can record all the sessions and make those videos available online shortly after they happen live at the event, and for 3 months afterwards for attendees to enjoy.
Fiddle Hell instructors -- who are experienced and encouraging teachers, and wonderful and inspiring players -- cover Bluegrass, Cajun, Cape Breton, Electric, French Canadian (Québécois), Gypsy Jazz, Irish, Jazz, Klezmer, New Acoustic, New England, Old-Time Southern, Scandinavian, Scottish, Swing, Western Swing, and other styles. Nearly all the instructors who were originally booked for the in-person event will now be teaching and performing online. We've been able to add more instructors, including several from far away.
Attending FHO is not only an amazing experience, it’s a way for you to support and connect with these wonderful instructors and performers, who have seen almost all of their in-person gigs disappear, and in many cases are just trying to make ends meet. Most of them are now teaching online, and they’re excited about jamming, performing, and leading workshops for you at Fiddle Hell Online.
Early registration will help your planning and ours as well. Our event software from Whova, accessible from your web browser or phone once you’re registered, helps you browse the agenda, ask questions, chat with the Fiddle Hell community, easily attend live Zoom sessions, replay sessions once they’ve happened, and visit our virtual exhibitors. Please let your musical friends know about Fiddle Hell Online!
On behalf of Fiddle Hell and my family, we hope you are doing ok, staying healthy, and coping with the difficult changes to everyday life. And we look forward to jamming, learning, and having fun with you in November!
Fiddle Hell strives to be an actively inclusive and welcoming place for people of all racial groups, ethnicities, abilities, gender identities and/or expressions, sexual orientations, incomes, religions, and other identities. We value and embrace all forms of diversity among our staff and participants. In August 2020, we identified a number of areas where Fiddle Hell could improve with respect to racial justice, and are taking steps to put these ideas into action. We are excited to offer workshops during Fiddle Hell Online in November 2020 and each year in the future that provide opportunities to learn about the contributions and roles of people of color in the origins and evolution of the instruments, tunes, and styles we play. Please click here to read about these steps in our full Statement about Fiddle Hell and Racial Justice.
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The Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival has been a yearly gathering of fiddlers, cellists, mandolin/guitar/old-time banjo players, and singers to meet, jam, learn, listen, and have fun. It's both friendly and diverse, crossing all ages and including many traditional musical styles. This is our 16th annual Festival, and the first to be online. Typically, there are about 10% beginners, 25% low intermediates, 35% high intermediates, and 30% advanced players, with many workshop and jam session choices at each level. Roughly 15% of the attendees are kids, and in the past we've had some sessions just for them.
The invention of the late, great fiddler Dale Hopkins from Missouri, "Fiddle Hell" events have occurred in fun locations worldwide. Prior Fiddle Hells have been held in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany. Dale used the term "Fiddle Hell" to refer to the unique sound of many fiddlers playing a tune together. While Dale's two Fiddle Hell gatherings involved performances for the public as well as some informal sharing of tunes and techniques, Dave Reiner extended the concept to make the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival more of a hands-on festival for all ages, with hundreds of scheduled workshops and jam sessions led by a wonderful group of experienced and supportive instructors, as well as many amazing concerts. The Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival and Fiddle Hell Online are now run by the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts LLC.
In 2019, we had 800+ musicians at the fifteenth Fiddle Hell Massachusetts, held at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center in Westford, MA. Participants came from as far away as Scotland, Germany, Canada, California, Alabama, Michigan, Texas and Florida, and from as near as Westford, MA, itself. They played and learned in many styles - New England, Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, Southern Old-TIme, Bluegrass, French Canadian, Jazz, Swing, Scandinavian, Klezmer, Blues, Electric, World, and more. Many tunes were taught, along with the stylistic details of the different traditions. In-depth workshops on techniques covered jamming, learning by ear, backing up singers, music theory, bowing patterns, improvisation, looping, and much more. Informal hallway jams in 9 "jam spots" were active through most of the day and night. For attendees, instructors, and staff, 2019 was a Fiddle Hell to remember! And so will be Fiddle Hell Online in 2020...
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 tunes in 2016. The New 52 were chosen based on your suggestions from the prior 4 years of FH surveys. Some of these 104 common tunes will be taught in workshops in November, and will likely show up in jams. These tunes are all listed here. We just call them the "Common Tune List" or "CTL" these days, without distinguishing which of the two lists tunes come from.
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 a 2-CD set of the 52 new common tunes, played fast and slow. Volume 2 is also only $15 postpaid (within the US) in our online Store.
Fiddle Hell Online and the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival are run by the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts LLC. Our events are 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.
Our usual sponsors, D'Addario and CodaBow, will not be doing giveaways this year. You can read more about them in the Exhibitor Gallery once you're registered.
We're working closely with Maine Fiddle Camp, Ashokan Camps, Northeast Heritage Music Camp, Creative Strings Workshop, Strings Without Boundaries, and Rustic Roots Camp on cross-promotion and best practices for online teaching. We won't have camp registration giveaways this year, however.
Thanks to Jenna Moynihan, Fiddle Hell Instructor, for the photo!