Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Upper Midwest Folk Fiddlers Tunebook Now On Sale!

                                                Buy Now

This book is the culmination of Clawhammer Mike’s years of research into the schottisches, polkas and waltzes of the Upper Midwest. The Upper Midwest Folk Fiddlers Tunebook includes 137 tunes that were mostly played by Scandinavian immigrants who came to the Upper Midwest. Most of these tunes were passed down generationally over the past 150 years. Along with the digital download of the book that includes standard notations, chords and tabs, you will receive midi-based MP3 files for each tune to facilitate your learning. These tunes are jam-friendly and in standard keys. You’ll be playing these old barn-dance tunes in no time!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Elmo Wick Tape!

Going through three big boxes of Minnesota fiddle tapes, I found this great one that I did not know existed. We already had a tape of Elmo playing standard, American, old-time tunes, but it was great to find one that concentrates on the Scandinavian immigrant music that he had done such a great job transcribing to paper.  For more info on Elmo and his transcriptions you can go to

These aren't the best recordings of Elmo, but they do give life to some of the tunes we only had transcriptions for.  On Phil Nusbaum's field recordings, Elmo plays strong dance fiddling.  On this tape it seems like Elmo and Stan aren't always on the same page,, and Elmo is doing more 3rd position backup.  Although this provides some context for this tape, it doesn't diminish its importance to us who study the history of Upper Midwest fiddle music.

This recording is made available free for education purposes.  If you want to support me and the work that I do getting stuff like this out, you can Venmo:  @clawhammermike

Friday, May 1, 2020

Finally done with a project three years in the making!!! I attempt to take a good look at the lives and repertoire of one Upper Midwest father and son fiddling story. Hopefully, all kinds of folks in the Upper Midwest and across the country can relearn these old tunes and pass them on.
You get:
- 60 tune transcriptions with tabs and chords.
- .Wav based midi files to play along with. Up to tempo and slowed down.
- Newspaper clippings, family photos, stories, and linocuts in a 76 page electronic book.

Purchase here!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Upper Midwest Folk Fiddlers at MBOTMA's Fall Jam.

Last Saturday, The Upper Midwest Folk Fiddlers were invited to lead an Upper Midwest Tune Jam at the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association's Fall Jam Weekend.  It was great to have a bunch of new faces learning these tunes!  Some even said they might become regulars at our biweekly jam in Saint Paul, Mn! Click on the UMFF link to find or schedule.
Credit: MaryPat Kleven

Friday, September 28, 2018

Big Lake Dancers

Upper Midwest Folk Fiddlers playing Ellingson's Schottische for the folks at the Big Lake Farmers Market last week.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Upper Midwest Folk Fiddlers Play a Barn Raising

About 6 months ago I started a learners group called Upper Midwest Folk Fiddlers.  To have a group that actively plays this music I have been archiving has long been part of the mission.  I don't want my projects to become boring archives that have no life to them.  Our group gets together twice a month in Saint Paul and plays Upper Midwest Tunes.  I doubt that many of these tunes have been played by a group in decades.

The Norwegians have groups like this called Spellmanslags. In general these groups have one keeper of the tunes and tradition and many players of all skill levels.  That is what we are trying to do here.  We are a welcoming group who seek out new-comers and provide tools for learning the tunes.

Our band for the barn raising ( minus me taking picture )
The evening was lovely.  Folks attentively listened to the tunes and some dance along.  I decided at one point to ask for questions for which their were many thoughtful ones.  The question and answer session was great.

Dancing to a waltz

I could not do any of this without all the work my others in the group have shared.  They not only learn the tunes, but correct my transcriptions and help with all the details to keep a group like this moving forward.  Such enthusiasm is not lost on me and has really given a great push to the next phase of this project. To see our schedule or for booking click here

Clawhammer Mike

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"fiddling" Ole Hanson. Austin, MN

"Fiddling" Ole started off learning the Norwegian tunes of his father and grandfather.  When he wasn't working at the Hormel plant, he was traveling with an orchestra, playing tunes at a contest or repairing old fiddles.  He won the senior division of the MN State Fiddle Association contest.  After he died, his family recorded an album with some of his influences on it.  The article below was originally posted in the Rochester Post-Bulletin.