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Jody Kruskal

Report From Clifftop 2016

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I just got back from my third Clifftop Festival. What a great time! Many thousands of old-time musicians were camping and playing together. It’s a multi-faceted tent city that springs up on the site of a mountainous State Park in a remote area of West Virginia in the US.

 

Camping started on Thursday July 28th and the festival ended on Sunday August 7th. Over the course of these 10 days the park slowly fills up until there is hardly a patch left to put your car or tent. Non-stop music 24/7 is what makes this festival so special. So many fine musicians come from all of the United States to play together. Last year there were also old-time enthusiasts from 9 foreign countries represented, including a substantial English contingent and lots of Canadians.

 

It’s a real players festival. There is a stage that features fiddle, banjo and band contests with substantial cash prizes. Still... some folks never get to the stage at all... they are too busy playing tunes in small groups all day and night in the extensive labyrinthian and wooded camp site.

 

Although I played Anglo all over the place, the only other Anglo concertina player of note that I heard was Bertram Levy who was more likely to be playing banjo. A few other concertina players were around but kept a low profile playing Irish tunes in a few of the odd sessions.

 

As for odd sessions, there were a few that blew me away. Aside from old-time all the time, I got to play saxophone in a wild pick-up wind band blowing on horns and reeds with percussion, banjo and bass. We mostly stuck to the fiddle tunes that we all knew. Hell Broke Loose in Georgia, Coleman’s March and Elk River Blues sounded way cool. What an interesting sounding cross fertilization project. These fiddle players also brought their horns and wanted to blow! It reminded me of Saxophone Day at the Radway in Sidmouth many decades ago. Does that still happen?

 

This is a string band festival with no hired big name string bands, only home grown players coming out to play. Though most folks played fiddle, banjo and guitar I did hear some other instruments including bag pipe, harp, accordion, harmonica, mandolin, country vocals, sacred harp singing, there is a massive cajun tent, some horn players as I mentioned above.

 

My new duet CD with Tennessee fiddler Luke Richardson sold well and we had a fine time at our release events.

 

If you want to attend as a concertina player next year, be sure you are up to snuff and accepted in your local old-time jam and better yet, bring your playing friends along with you.

Edited by Jody Kruskal

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Are you bringing any of your CDs to the NE Squeeze In in Sept?

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Hey Jody,

It is great to hear that you get such a warm reception in that scene. I have wanted to go there for a long time (as a clogger), but now it would just kill me to go if I could not also play my anglo. I actually started an old time jam here in Tucson (just to get to play more old time) and so I have built up some great friendships with old time players here, many of which make it out there on occasion. It will be a few years til I find the time to get there, but it is great to know you are setting a precedent! I love the way anglo blends into the old time fiddling sound.

 

Thanks for sharing!

Claire

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Hey Clair,

 

If I ever get to Tucson we could play OT duets (Anglo duets, that is)! Likewise, if your path ever leads you to NYC... we have a great Monday session in Brooklyn.

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Hey Jody,

My band STEAM is playing the NYC contradances December 9 and 10, but we won't be there for a Monday night. I don't play a lot of concertina with STEAM, mostly percussion, but we always like to jam afterwards and will be around that neck of the woods all day on the 10th. PM me if you think something could work out - how cool would that be!

Have you ever considered coming to Winfield Kansas and join in the Carp Camp frivolities (Sept 14-18 for the festival, but much before that for the constant jam scene). What a blast it would be to have you there!

 

Claire

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Is that the Walnut Valley Festival? What is Carp Camp? Looks like fun! Are you lined up for the early bird land rush pre-festival shenanigans?

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