By Jim Sinclair
A rookie bow-jockey at the inaugural Kootenay Fiddle Camp is now, likely, an experienced fiddler.
The camp at the Castlegar campus of Selkirk College began 10 years ago and that rookie’s story has since been repeated by multiple musicians.
This year’s edition ran from July 11-15 and had an enrollment of more than 70 players.
The group has a strong focus on the fiddle, but also piano, guitar and mandolin — the most common tools of the trade in terms of traditional fiddle music.
Sanctioned by the B.C. Old Time Fiddlers Branch No. 9, the camp was led by a group of top-notch instructors… there was even step-dancing instruction.
Master musician and Nova Scotia resident Gordon Stobbe, took a moment from his MC duties during a wrap-up recital at the college. He described how the effort was begun at Emma Lake in Northern Saskatchewan, but discontinued after a number of years only to be resumed in this part of the country.
Stobbe says the profile and reputation of Castlegar’s program has risen over time. He offered the names of locals Garth Collins and John Milosevich as motivators of the camp concept.
“They assembled a small group of people,” related Stobbe.
“We gave them some names of instructors. That was 10 years ago.”
The spokesman and musical mentor was pleased to report that similar camps have since sprung up all across the country, indicative of a strong interest in the time-honoured art form. That level of interest was apparent as the 2011 installment of the camp showcased it’s accomplishments that Friday morning. There were fiddlers, mandolinists (many double on the sweet-sounding cousins), guitar players and pianists from children to seniors plus many enthusiastic friends and family members taking it all in.
Stobbe elaborated on some of the camp’s ingredients for success. Along with the strong appeal of the music, he described an increasing desire among some to get something accomplished during a summer vacation.
“There’s a different mindset, people want to do things, maybe not just lie on a beach,” said Stobbe.
The infectious nature of the music, especially when played by a sizable group was vouched for by a group of adult fiddlers — two of whom are Selkirk College employees, a third, one who has retired.
Kate Enewold, David Feldman and Lori Bakken are part of the fiddlin’ fraternity and very happy about it. They enjoy the positive influence brought to their lives by learning the fiddle.
Kate, who’s been at it for five years has found a common interest to pursue with her 13-year-old grandson Dante, who was also enrolled at the camp.
It was a happy scene, riddled with the satisfaction that comes with met goals, notable improvement and the inspiration from the team-like atmosphere.
Gordon Stobbe says this year had the best attendance yet.
That sounds like music to the ears of organizers and an invitation to those wondering what’s so special about the Kootenay Fiddle Camp. They’re welcome to find out in 2012.