Members of the Old Time Kootenay Fiddlers met at Pass Creek Park on Wednesday afternoon for a summer BBQ and jam session. The group, which started sometime in the late 1970s or early ’80s and has 35 current members, is all about promoting old time music in the Kootenays.
Stella Mulawka and her husband first joined the fiddlers in 1982. Mulawka doesn’t play an instrument, but her husband used to play guitar and jammed with the group, which is open to any musician interested in old time music, not just fiddle players. Mulawka has always helped out, mainly in the kitchen, putting together meals and snacks for the musicians. Now that her husband no longer plays guitar, she still helps out and they both listen to the musicians jam.
Curlie Radcliff and Fred Bennett started the Old Time Kootenay Fiddlers not long before Mulawka and her husband joined, but none of the current members can remember exactly when. Joan Marks plays the keyboard and has been with the group since shortly after it started and has no plans to leave. “I’ll play as long as I can play,” she said.
There’s also fresh blood in the group. Kate Enewold has been with the fiddlers for three years now. She and her 18-year-old grandson Dante started learning to play the fiddle together approximately a decade ago, and eventually Dante ended up taking part in the annual fiddle workshop that the group runs every July at Selkirk College. He has now participated in the workshop for the past five or six years, and is also a member of the fiddlers. The workshop includes classes for fiddle, guitar and piano, and is open to musicians of all ages and skill levels, many of whom go on to join the Old Time Fiddlers following the workshop.
“A lot of these people that you’re hearing today have come from this [workshop],” Marks said. “The true meaning of our club is to promote old time fiddling.”
In addition to promoting old time music through the annual workshop, the fiddlers are currently working on organizing a concert for October that they hope will help promote old time fiddling in the region. Calvin Vollrath, a Métis fiddler of global renown who composed five fiddle tunes for the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 Opening Ceremonies, will play the Old Castlegar Theatre. He will be accompanied by his wife Rhea Labrie, who is a step dancer, and Kimberley Holmes, a pianist who specializes in accompanying traditional fiddle playing and is an accomplished fiddle player herself.
Starting in September, the Old Time Kootenay Fiddlers will go back to their regular schedule of meeting twice a week, during Thursday afternoons and Monday evenings. Any musicians interested in jamming, or anyone interested in coming out to listen, can contact the fiddlers through their website at kootenayfiddlers.com or can contact Kate Enewold directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.