Last year I successfully put out the Minnesota Fiddle Tunes Project CD, which was a culmination of my first efforts to preserve, promote and learn Minnesota fiddle tunes. A lot of my early work involved research into the significant fiddlers of the area, most of whom have been forgotten. The next logical step is to dive into these fiddlers' repertoires and immerse ourselves in the tunes they were playing long ago.
Leonard Finseth stuck out to me right away. He lived on the same farm his whole life, but seemed to be everywhere in the region playing with many of the great old-time musicians of the Upper-Midwest. That he recorded much of these musical wanderings in home recordings is a real treasure. The problem is that the recordings have been stuck degrading in dusty archives and family attics until now. By putting a band together to pay tribute to not only the tunes, but the fiddlers themselves, we can make this lost music become alive again. The excitement that musicians have for this project is already apparent. This is going to be a real labor of love.
Now that the band is assembled, we have to learn how Leonard played all the songs and come up with arrangements that stay true to tradition, but at the same time feel modern. We will then have to take this big band into a recording studio, and some engineer is going to have a fun time mixing fiddle, accordion, banjo, nycelharpa, pump organ, guitar and bass. By the time spring comes we should be putting the finishing touches on the CD and setting up shows to support it here in the Upper-Midwest ( imagine, if you will, a VFW club in Bemidji, MN).
This is the kind of historical work that has a hard time paying for itself. Two years ago I was awarded a grant to cover the costs of the Minnesota Fiddle tunes CD. The energy and enthusiasm that that project created has brought us to this point. In order to get to the next level we need another infusion of funds, and what better way to do it than on this grassroots level! Thank you for helping us preserve and spread this great Upper Midwest fiddle music that has been tucked away in attics for so long.