FIDDLE HELL FESTIVAL

November 5-8, 2020


Thursday thru Sunday - Come for all or part
Westford, Massachusetts

It's not just for fiddlers!

  • Andy and Dave at Fiddle Hell Concert 2016
  • Workshops Fiddle Hell 2016 Art Gallery
  • Dave Kaynor
  • Workshop
  • Dance after FH Concert 2016
  • Darol Anger Bruce Molsky
  • Shari Clark
  • Cellosaurus Stomp
  • Fiddle Hell Sign
- Thanks to our Fiddle Hell photographer, Joni Lohr, for these fine photos.

Fiddle Hell Jam Hour

Hello Musical Friends!

Jam TODAY, April 7! See below...

My family and I have initiated the FIDDLE HELL JAM HOUR, every Wednesday at 5PM EDT, live streaming on the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Facebook group. That's 4PM CDT, 3PM MDT, and 2PM PDT. 

My wife Cindy and I are taking time every day to play tunes together. We're remembering old ones and learning some new ones. Playing music takes us to a good place . As well, our son Andy and his wife Joy are doing a lot of creative playing, and our son Eric and his fiancée Autumn Rose are never far from their instruments.

Why not play along with us? At 5PM EDT, just open up the Facebook Live stream, posted in the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Facebook group, take out your instruments (and voices), and join in or just listen. We may sometimes post a playlist in advance, including keys, and may be able to take requests on the stream. We won't hear you, but we'll know you're there, and you'll be able to play along in real-time. The first jam was Wednesday, 5PM EDT, March 25, led by Andy and Joy. The playlist and keys were posted in the Facebook group, with a link to the Rustic Roots tunebook with some of the tunes written out. Then Wednesday, 5PM EDT, April 1, led by Eric and Autumn Rose, with a focus on New England and Irish tunes at an intermediate level. You can replay these first two jams in the Facebook group. Then TUESDAY, 5PM EDT, April 7, led by Dave and Cindy, with a focus on easier oldtime tunes (April 8 is Passover). Then Wednesday, 5PM EDT, April 15, led by Mariel Vandersteel and Stash Wyslouch, and so on.

Some of the jam hours may be open on levels and styles, and some may focus on a particular level or style, such as oldtime, New England, Irish, Scottish, bluegrass, or songs. We'll work out details as we go, and may expand to more days and more jam leaders over time. Your suggestions are welcome!

The technology may be new to some of you, but once you've found the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Facebook group, and joined it, you should be ok. We'll likely improve the technology and look at expanding to additional platforms in the future. 

Speaking more broadly, these are truly difficult times for all of us, especially for musicians who thrive on community. I hope you are doing ok, staying healthy, and coping with the wrenching changes to everyday life.

It's a good time to concentrate on tunes, and also to support your favorite performers in their online and virtual performances until life tilts back in the direction of normal.

My family and I wish you all the best in the broad, diverse, and supportive Fiddle Hell community!

Please let us know how you're doing.

Dave Reiner

Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival

The Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival is a yearly gathering of fiddlers, cellists, mandolin/guitar/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. 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 there are 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 more than a dozen amazing concerts. The Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival is run by the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts LLC.

It's amazing


Voodoo Fiddlehead

In 2019, we had 800+ musicians at the fifteenth Massachusetts Fiddle Hell. They came from as far away as Scotland, Germany, 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 2020. Other instrumentalists, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 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. 5-8, 2020). There will be around 500 instructor-led workshops and jam sessions. Really! In addition, there will be lots of informal and spontaneous jam sessions in the hallways, where the 52 original and 52 new Fiddle Hell common tunes may often show up. The Saturday night concert and contra dance afterwards are open to the public and are legendary! Fiddle Hell participants can dance or sit in with the band (led by Eric Eid-Reiner, Autumn Rose Lester, and George Fowler) at the contra dance, which will be called by Lisa Greenleaf. In addition, we'll have 12 one-hour concerts at Fiddle Hell by various bands and instructors. On Friday night, The Whomp! is back. So is the Friday night easy contradance, with caller and music TBD. 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 clefbass 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, backing up singers and other instruments, practicing techniques, music theory, bowing shuffles, picking techniques, chop bowing, free improvisation, left hand technique, oldtime fiddling, bluegrass fiddling, oldtime fiddling, Swedish fiddling, contradance fiddling, workshops for kids, and more.

While the frequent focus is on fiddle, there will be many workshops every day for cello, mandolin, guitar, oldtime banjo, and singing, led by excellent players and teachers. There are also a few workshops for piano, harmonica, and bass, but these happen only occasionally. We've also set up many instructor-led jams in particular styles, like New England, 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 2019 instructors and accompanists are listed on the Staff page; it's not yet updated for 2020. See the Schedule for more details on 2019 workshops, jams and concerts; 2020's schedule will be similar in many ways, and should be online by the end of September, 2020.

Location


Westford, Massachusetts

Fiddle Hell will be held once again at the Westford Regency Inn, 219 Littleton Road, Westford, Massachusetts, on Nov. 5-8, 2020. There's lots of workshop and jamming space, free parking, nice rooms if you wish to stay there (bookable around the end of January), and good food both onsite and nearby.  Sessions, workshops, concerts, dances, 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, starting at the end of January. When the Westford Regency sells out of sleeping rooms for 2020 - which will happen within a few days once they're available - note that there are other hotels nearby.

Common Tunes


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 the 52 new common tunes, played fast and slow. Volume 2 is also only $15 postpaid (within the US) in our online Store.

More Information


There are lots of jam sessions at Fiddle Hell, both scheduled and impromptu. Click for jamming guidelines.

If you attended Fiddle Hell 2019, click here to take a quick 10-question survey and help us improve Fiddle Hell! We read every response, and really appreciate your feedback.

Questions: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions. Or post to the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Facebook group (or the FH threads on Fiddle Hangout or Fiddle Forum). Or call Dave at (781) dash 863 dash 0140.

Connections: If you're on Facebook, look for the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival 2019 event to see who's coming, and especially join the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts group.   Follow FiddleHell on Twitter.
Jenna Moynihan, Scottish fiddler and FH instructor

Sponsors and Giveaways


The Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival is run by the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts LLC. The event 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 2018 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 Diamond SX bow valued at $625-$750 (fiddle, viola, or cello bow to match your instrument). You had a few days after Fiddle Hell to sign up for the giveaway on the CodaBow website, using a URL we gave out at Fiddle Hell. Just so you know, CodaBow asks for your email when you sign up. Finally, to one of the musicians who preregistered for the weekend, we gave away tickets to a show at Club Passim in Cambridge, and to another a $100 gift certificate from Johnson String Instrument / Carriage House Violins usable at Fiddle Hell or at their store in Newton, MA. 2019 giveaways will be very similar - but wait, there's more!

We welcome two new camp sponsors, and two great new giveaways to people who preregister (as playing participants) for Fiddle Hell Massachusetts in 2019. We'll hold a random drawing for these giveaways at Fiddle Hell in November, 2019.
1. A free registration (including meals and bunk/tent) at one of the Maine Fiddle Camp June weekends in 2020 (or $250 credit toward one of the full week camps at MFC). Transferable to another Fiddle Hell attendee of your choice if you aren't able to go.
2. A free registration (including tuition and meals; not including lodging) at any of the Ashokan Camps in 2020, such as Southern and Northern weeks, or Uke Fest. Transferable to another Fiddle Hell attendee of your choice if you aren't able to go.
By the way, Doug Protsik at Maine Fiddle Camp will reciprocate by giving away (at one camp TBD in 2019) one free 2019 Fiddle Hell registration. And Jay Ungar at Ashokan Camps will give away (at the Southern and Northern weeks) two free 2019 FH registrations. We're all musical friends! Many thanks to Doug and Jay! Of course, regardless of giveaways, and in addition to your joining us at  Fiddle Hell Massachusetts, we enthusiastically encourage you to consider attending one or more of the themed Ashokan Camps and comprehensive Maine Fiddle Camps in 2019.

- Dave Reiner, Andy Eid Reiner, and Eric Eid-Reiner, Fiddle Hell Music Directors

P.S. #1 (from Dave) The Old Groton Inn, which had hosted Fiddle Hell Massachusetts from 2005-2010, burned down on August 2nd, 2011, fortunately with no injuries to guests or staff. The Inn was built around the year 1678. Dark but lively, full of character and history - in many ways that quintessential New England setting was just like the old traditional tunes that we played there.  George (the owner) loved music, cooked with pride, and was always telling me - "We'll take care of you, buddy!"  And Vicki (the manager) worked very hard, against a variety of obstacles, to make every Fiddle Hell as smooth as possible for her guests.  I am very sorry for their personal loss and the historic one as well, and offer my heartfelt thanks for our years of partnership.
P.S. #2 (from Dave) From 2011-2013, Fiddle Hell was hosted at Concord's historic and inviting Colonial Inn.  We greatly appreciate the fine support and warm welcome Fiddle Hell received from the Colonial Inn and its staff through those three years.  We have moved on to a new location since the event has now grown too large for the Colonial Inn, but we wish them well!