Fiddling music tells tales of America; concerts to spark holiday weekend in Port Townsend
By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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Listen, though, and you find out quick: Fiddlin’ on the Fourth is a party propelled by the quintessentially American story.
Immigrants and refugees, looking for freedom, brought their music to these shores. Their daughters and sons, growing up here, learned it, and then stirred in American flavors.
That music will arrive in Port Townsend this Fourth of July during the 36th annual Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, with 16 acts, four concerts and the Cajun and Creole Dance.
All are at venues inside Fort Worden State Park, 200 Battery Way.
Singers and players from North Carolina, California, Tennessee, Texas and Canada’s Cape Breton will step up in two Fiddlin’ on the Fourth concerts: an afternoon and evening show, both at the fort’s McCurdy Pavilion.
The matinee lineup includes, from the far side of Nova Scotia, fiddler Dawn Beaton and pianist Barbara Magone.
“The tunes I play are a mix of traditional Scottish music and music composed in Cape Breton, with a good mix of beautiful waltzes and slow airs,” Beaton promised.
In an interview from her Cape Breton home, she added that she and Magone hope to show Port Townsend a ceilidh: a Gaelic-spiced, spontaneous evening of tunes and revelry.
Making this traditional music “is like breathing,” Beaton said.
“It travels down bloodlines . . . and all the Celts travel,” said the fiddler, adding that many of the Gaelic-speaking folk who emigrated from Scotland have descendants who have since brought their music to U.S. cities such as Boston.
Also traveling to Port Townsend for the afternoon Fiddlin’ on the Fourth concert are Riley Baugus, Matt Kinman and Moses Nelligan of North Carolina, Tennessean Joseph Decosimo and the Texas-Polish Brian Marshall and Family.
They will gather inside McCurdy Pavilion at 1:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 to $25 for adults while youth 18 and younger get in free.
The same ticket prices go for Fiddlin’ on the Fourth, part two: the evening show.
The 7:30 p.m. concert’s slate ranges from Yvon Mimeault and Guy Bouchard of Quebec, Rich Hartness and friends from North Carolina, Midwestern fiddler Chirps Smith and blues specialist Suzy Thompson to Cookie Segelstein and her klezmer band.
This fiddle-bass-accordion music “is not your mother’s klezmer,” Segelstein said.
Rather, “it’s her mother’s klezmer,” a very traditional form for dances and parties.
This is music that is personal, communal and transnational.
Segelstein’s sound comes from the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine, where her father Boris grew up.
He survived the Holocaust by escaping from a labor camp and joining the Russian army.
Ultimately he sought refuge in the United States, and became part of the Jewish community in Kansas City, Mo.
From there, Boris would take his family on car trips to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, which reminded him of his boyhood beneath the Carpathians.
All the way across Kansas, father and daughter would sing songs from Boris’ homeland.
“My father was a pretty difficult guy,” Segelstein said. “I had a way of getting to him. I think music was the way.”
Segelstein grew up to be a violinist and a violist; she has a master’s in viola from Yale and played for years with the New Haven Symphony.
After meeting her husband-to-be, Joshua Horowitz, Segelstein moved to Berkeley and formed Veretski Pass, the klezmer trio named after a Carpathian mountain pass.
While Segelstein has been to Fiddle Tunes twice before, this will be Horowitz’s first time. He’s the accordionist in the band, while Mark Rubin will add his acoustic bass rhythms.
“When people hear [klezmer] for the first time, they say, ‘I thought it was going to be much sadder-sounding,’” Segelstein said.
They find out: “It’s real hot stuff. It’s infused with so many styles . . . It’s dance music.
“It’s like, ‘whoa that’s fast.’”
After Thursday’s concerts, Fiddle Tunes continues with three more shows:
■ The “Free Fridays at the Fort” series presents a Fiddle Tunes showcase at noon Friday on the Nora Porter Commons.
■ A Cajun and Creole Dance featuring Desiree Champagne, Joel Savoy, Jesse Lege and friends, Texas accordionist Cedric Watson and others gets moving at 7 p.m. Friday on Fort Worden’s Littlefield Green; admission is $15 for adults and free for those 18 and younger.
■ Saturday’s Fiddle Finale brings together Los Jilguerillos del Huerto of Michoacán, Mexico; old-time American players Vivian and Paul Williams, Bobby Taylor, Kim Johnson, Don and Cindy Roy and Dan Gellert; and Basque musicians Joseba Tapia, Arkaitz Miner and Xabier Leturia.
Tickets to this 1:30 p.m. Saturday show at McCurdy Pavilion are $20 to $25 for adults and free for youth 18 and younger.
Fiddle Tunes tickets — and packages — are available, while much more information awaits at www.Centrum.org or by phoning 800-746-1982.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: July 02. 2013 6:12PM