Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ken Amundson is a fourth generation Minnesota fiddler.

Nick Hoffman and Ken Amundson.
Ken Amundson is a Saint Paul 3rd generation Minnesota violin luthier and 4th generation Minnesota fiddler. His great grandfather came to Minnesota from Norway. They were mostly barn dance and party fiddlers.  Sometimes there would be just a few musicians and sometimes they would need a bunch of folks to keep the crowds pleased.   They would dance on Friday night until the daylight Saturday and then get back at it after chores on Saturday.   He tells a cute story of kids falling asleep on the pile of jackets that accumulated in the corner of the room during the dances.  His grandpa and dad were house builders, barn builders and farmers. Because his grandfather, Karl, was good with wood, people would ask him to fix their fiddle.  He passed this skill on to Ken’s father Harris and Ken has turned it into the business he has today.  Ken has done work for several important artists including Ricky Scaggs and Kenny Chesney’s fiddler, Nick Hoffman.  Nick learned to play fiddle from Kenny Admundson’s father, Harris. Harris liked to teach tunes to the younger generation.

Harris was a significant Minnesota fiddler. He was involved in starting the Minnesota State Fiddle Association with Elmo Wick.  They starting organizing fiddle festivals around the state.  Ken told a touching story about his father’s favorite tune.  For many years his father couldn’t remember what the name of the tune was.  One day while he was out driving he saw a Westphalia camper and that triggered his memory that the tune was Westphalia waltz.  Many years later Kenny’s brother was with their father by his death bed.  He had not been doing well, but began tapping a tune out in ¾ time on his bed.  Kenny’s brother asked him what tune it was and he said it was the Westphalia Waltz. He died a short while later.   For that reason the song will be in my Minnesota repertoire.  I am in the process of getting copies of Harris's home recordings and then I will share a few tunes with you all.

In the videos Ken also shows us the great Hardanger fiddles that are around his shop.  If you are in need of fiddle repair work, you should contact him.

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